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Job growth lagging upstate, report finds

But wages keeping pace with inflation

082916_JOBS_GRAPHIC

A new report by the New York State Comptroller’s Office shows job growth has been lagging in upstate New York since the end of the recession, although the Finger Lakes region and western New York are doing better than other areas of the state.

Since June 2009, total employment in upstate New York rose by 0.3 percent compared to 2.2 percent in the downstate region and 1.9 percent nationwide.

The report also found that the overall average annual wage gain in upstate of 3.3 percent outpaced both the downstate and national averages in 2015.

“The pace of job growth upstate continues to lag well behind downstate New York’s and the nation as a whole. Overall upstate employment has not yet recovered fully from the losses associated with the Great Recession,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in the report.

Total upstate employment reached about 3.1 million jobs in mid-2008 and declined over the next 19 months, to a low of 2.9 million in February 2010. As of June 2016, upstate had regained 79 percent of a total 128,000 jobs lost.

Currently, total New York state employment is slightly more than 3 million, accounting for about 32 percent of all jobs statewide.

Kent Gardner, principal and chief economist at the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, said the employment picture here is much different from the New York City and downstate area because companies in the Rochester area face a much different business landscape.

“Downstate is dominated by some high-value added sectors like the financial-services sector that can absorb the relatively high cost of doing business in the state of New York and, as a consequence, they operate on a completely different competitive field than do upstate companies,” Gardner said.

While Wall Street firms that drive the downstate economy compete against companies in places like London, Frankfurt and Tokyo, companies in western New York have competition in cities like Tampa, Florida, and Raleigh, North Carolina, Gardner said.

“We are in very stiff competition with those other parts of the country that do have significantly lower costs of doing business,” he said.

Since the end of the recession in mid-2009, upstate’s largest overall job growth of 2.2 percent (11,600 jobs) was in the Capital Region. Smaller gains occurred in the Finger Lakes (9,500 jobs) and western New York (8,400 jobs).

Emily Doyle, an assistant recording clerk for the Monroe County Clerk’s Office helping a customer Friday. The number of government jobs, like Doyle’s, is declining in New York state. A new report on employment trends in upstate New York released by the state Comptroller’s Office says the job sector with the biggest decline since the recession ended in 2009 is government, which lost about 34,000 jobs. (Bennett Loudon)

Emily Doyle, an assistant recording clerk for the Monroe County Clerk’s Office helping a customer Friday. The number of government jobs, like Doyle’s, is declining in New York state. A new report on employment trends in upstate New York released by the state Comptroller’s Office says the job sector with the biggest decline since the recession ended in 2009 is government, which lost about 34,000 jobs. (Bennett Loudon)

The hardest hit upstate regions include: The Mohawk Valley, which is down 2.8 percent (5,500 jobs); the Southern Tier, which is down 2.5 percent (7,500 jobs); the North Country down is down 3,100 jobs; the upper Hudson Valley and Central New York lost 1,700 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality, which added 26,000 jobs upstate, was the sector with the largest job growth from 2010 through 2015. Education and health services added more than 20,000 jobs.

The largest job losses upstate were in the government sector, which dropped 5.9 percent (about 34,000 jobs). Western New York lost 6,500 jobs, while the Southern Tier and Capital Region lost more than 5,000 public-sector jobs over the period.

Despite the loss of government jobs, it remains the largest employment sector upstate, accounting for 21 percent of all jobs.

A bright spot in the comptroller’s report is that the average annual wage growth upstate outpaced inflation from 2010 through 2015. Upstate’s overall average wage growth of 12.4 percent exceeded the rate of inflation of 8.7 percent. Growth in average wages from 2010 to 2015 was highest in the Finger Lakes region, at 13 percent.