gas-150x150-7822474New York’s rising unemployment rate is “presenting a challenge for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as he tries to build an image as a fiscal centrist who can transform the state’s business climate,” today’s New York Times reports.  The administration responds that the federal unemployment figures, a statistical sampling based on surveys of individuals, paints a less accurate picture than the federal government’s establishment payroll data, which counts jobs.

From the Times:

“Simply relying on the household unemployment survey does not paint an accurate or complete picture of job creation in New York State because the sample used in that survey is inadequate,” said Richard Bamberger, a spokesman for the governor.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, jobs are being created at the fastest rate in four years, and the proof is in the numbers,” he added, citing falling unemployment claims. “New York has regained all of the 324,000 private-sector jobs lost in the recession,” Mr. Bamberger said.

But putting aside continuing questions about the reliability of unemployment data, the payroll numbers for New York haven’t been that impressive, either — outside New York City, that is.  During the 12-month period ending in August, the most recent month for which regional breakdowns are available, the city accounted for 70 percent of the state’s private sector job growth.  Most of the remaining year-over-year increase was in Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley, which still have not fully rebounded to their pre-recession employment levels. New York’s strongest rate of job growth was in the Utica-Rome region, where private employment was up 4.4 percent.  However, while Utica-Rome as of August was back to its 2007 employment level, it was still nearly 4 percent below the 2002 level.

Regions with private-sector job declines in the latest 12-month period included Elmira and Binghamton — in the heart of the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale region, where the Cuomo administration still is in no hurry to allow hydro-fracking, as these folks complained in Albany yesterday.*

Cuomo has been in office for less than two years, which is too short a period for the policies of any governor to have had a significant impact on macro-economic trends in a state the size of New York. In addition, the employment data are subject to an annual revision next March, and must be taken with a considerable grain of statistical salt before then.  In the meantime, the “fiscally centrist” label applied by the Times is, at best, a rough arithmetical average of fiscal policies that have veered from a property tax cap and state spending restraint to a “millionaire tax” hike and continued foot-dragging on gas fracking. The State Capitol needle has yet to point decisively in a pro-growth direction.

* At 9.1 percent and 8.9 percent respectively, Elmira and Binghamton also had unemployment rates higher than the national (8.2 percent) or statewide (8.8 percent) rates for August.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is a senior fellow at the Empire Center.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

New York Has Widened Its Lead in Per-Capita Spending on Medicaid

New York's per-capita Medicaid spending soared to more than double the nationwide rate in 2018, widening its gap with the other 49 states. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Roller Coaster Takes an Unusual Turn

The state's Medicaid spending was significantly lower than projected in the first quarter, but that's not necessarily a positive sign for state finances. As shown the chart below, t Read More

Cuomo Administration Ducks Important Questions on Nursing Homes

A new report from the state Health Department tries to deflect blame for thousands of coronavirus deaths in the state's nursing homes—but undermines its own case by withholding data and engaging in tendentious analysis. Read More

New Data Confirm New York State’s Q1 Economic Plunge

New York's economy ended the first quarter of this year in virtual free fall, the latest federal data show. The Empire State's real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 8.2 percent in the first three months of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2 Read More

Nursing Home Vacancy Rate Soars, Hinting at a Higher Coronavirus Toll

The vacancy rate in New York's nursing homes has more than doubled since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that the death toll among residents may be thousands higher than officially reported. Read More

Hospitalization rising in some areas

Coronavirus hospitalizations are surging in parts of upstate, including three regions that the Cuomo administration authorized to begin reopening today. Read More

Essential Plan surplus hits $3B

As Governor Cuomo pleads for financial help from Washington, one of his state's programs is sitting on $3 billion in unspent federal aid: the Essential Plan. Read More

More fiscal turmoil for Medicaid

In a sign of pandemic-related strain on state finances, the Cuomo administration is postponing a series of multi-billion-dollar Medicaid payments over the next three months. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.