in Employment, Jobs, Manufacturing, Rust Belt, Upstate New York

Upstate’s Uneven Metropolitan Economies – Implications for Policy Makers

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  • The story of New York’s job market since the 1990’s has been a tale of two regions.  The New York City metropolitan area, where two-thirds of the state’s population lives, has seen private sector employment growth (42.4%) that is near the national rate (48.3%).
  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy’s employment growth – 27.5% – is much higher than the remaining New York state metropolitan areas.
  • Job growth in central and western upstate New York, and in other rust belt metropolitan areas, has lagged.  Buffalo’s job growth during the period was 7.9%, while the Syracuse and Rochester metropolitan grew by 4.7% and 10.6% respectively.   Utica-Rome grew 3.9%, while Binghamton lost 14.1% of employment in goods and services.

Much attention has been paid to the fact that inflation adjusted worker earnings[1] have stagnated nationally since 2000, after growing from $49,000 in 1970 to $58,670 in 2000.  In 2016, real earnings per worker were $56,900 in the United States.  But the fortunes of metropolitan areas have differed.

  • Real earnings per worker in the New York City metropolitan area grew substantially- from $57,800 to $78,300 between 1970 and 2016. Inflation adjusted earnings also grew in Albany-Schenectady-Troy and Syracuse.
  • Rochester and Binghamton saw declines during the period.
  • In 1970, all New York metropolitan areas (except for Utica-Rome) and metropolitan areas in total in Ohio and Michigan had higher earnings per worker than the United States.
  • By 2016, every metropolitan area, except New York City, had earnings that were lower than for the United States.  Much of the worker earnings slippage can be attributed to the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Because the state’s economic performance has been uneven, it is not surprising that New York and its localities spend heavily on economic development.

  • Empire State Development’s 2017-18 budget was eight times larger than in 2012-13 ($2.768 billion compared with $335 million)[2].
    • Ohio’s economic development corporation, JobsOhio reported expenditures of $96 million in 2017.
    • Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s budget was $54 million in that year.
  • Timothy J. Bartik of the W. P. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research reported that as of 2015, New York’s state and local tax incentives as a percentage of the state’s private industry value added were second highest in the nation.[3] Only New Mexico spent more.
    • New York’s high spending on incentives was despite the fact that the state’s business tax burden as a percentage of private industry value added was about average.
  • The 2017 Annual Report on New York State Tax Expenditures show that at the state level, $1.4 billion in economic development tax incentives were issued.[4]

Some economic development efforts have paid off, as companies that have received assistance have created and retained jobs.  But, despite those successes, the employment performance of central and western upstate metropolitan areas, like other rust belt metropolitan areas continues to significantly under-perform the nation’s.

The state’s investments have not lifted job creation in central and western New York above other rust belt communities because economic and technological changes are stronger than the tools available to the state to encourage the creation and retention of jobs. When Eastman Kodak drastically downsized after its consumer film business was destroyed by digital technology, no amount of state assistance could have prevented the resulting job losses.  When labor cost disadvantages led New Process Gear division of Chrysler Corporation to close its factory near Syracuse, and Carrier to move manufacturing operations, the tools available to encourage the companies to stay were simply not enough to make up for the cost differences.

Given those challenges, it is reasonable to ask how economic development strategies for upstate New York metropolitan areas should be structured.  To answer that question, we must start by understanding the changes in the performance of industries that make up regional economies like those in upstate New York.  Because, if we do not understand those changes, we risk allocating resources to efforts that are unlikely to succeed, or which provide a smaller return on the state’s investment than might be received from alternatives.

This post is one of a series presenting data that describes changes in New York’s regional economies and show how those changes might inform state decisions about how to best use resources in the effort to help industry create and retain jobs.  It begins with a look at employment and earnings data since 1970, and then focuses on the more recent 2001-2016 period.

New York’s Differing Metropolitan Economies

New York state is most often seen as consisting of two regions – the New York City metropolitan area, with about two-thirds of the state’s population – and  upstate New York.  But, the upstate/downstate distinction is not as significant from an economic perspective as the difference between areas in the eastern part of New York State, ranging from Albany-Schenectady-Troy through Poughkeepsie into the New York Metropolitan area and the areas west of Albany, such as the Utica-Rome, Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester and Buffalo metros.  What differs about these two regions is the historic dependence of central and western New York on manufacturing compared with the service sector-based metropolitan areas in eastern New York.

The economic performance of New York’s metropolitan areas has differed significantly in earlier and later time periods.

  • Between 1970 and 1989, Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton had the strongest employment growth in the state.
  • Buffalo-Niagara Falls, Utica-Rome and New York City lagged.  Beginning in 1989, Binghamton began a sharp decline, ending up, by 2016 losing 12% of its employment.
  • In the same year, growth in Syracuse and Rochester began to slow as well, with each of those regions showing little growth since them.
  • The New York City metropolitan area began a period of rapid growth in 1995, moving from last place to first place by 2016.

The Decline of Manufacturing

The divergence in performance between the eastern region of the State and central and Western New York that began about 1990 reflects the region’s dependence on manufacturing.

  • Nationally, in 1970, 26.7 percent of goods and services employment was in manufacturing[5].
  • In the rust belt outside New York, 35% of employment was in manufacturing industries[6].
  • The Binghamton, Rochester, Utica-Rome and Buffalo metropolitan areas had greater percentages of employment in manufacturing than the aggregate of rust belt metropolitan areas outside the state in 1970.
  • The New York City, Albany-Schenectady-Troy and Syracuse metropolitan areas had smaller percentages of manufacturing employment than rust belt metropolitan areas outside New York.
  • In two metropolitan areas in 1970, Rochester and Binghamton, more than four of every ten jobs were in manufacturing industries.

By 2017, manufacturing employment nationally fell to 7.1% of goods and services employment in the United States.  In rust belt metropolitan areas outside New York State, manufacturing employment was 11.8% of goods and services employment.

  • By 2017, every metropolitan area in New York state had a smaller percentage of goods and services employment in manufacturing than rust-belt metropolitan areas outside the state.
  • New York’s metropolitan areas west of the Hudson Valley were more dependent on manufacturing than the nation in 1970 and saw larger declines in manufacturing as a percentage of non-farm employment than the rust belt metropolitan areas outside New York State.
  • Four of five metropolitan areas in central and western New York had higher percentages of manufacturing employment in 1970 and larger declines in manufacturing as a percentage of non-farm employment than metropolitan areas in rust belt states excluding New York.

Manufacturing Employment Losses

Nationally, manufacturing employment has decreased by 5.5 million jobs since 1970.

  • Manufacturing employment declines in the United States began in the 1980-1990 decade, reaching a peak of nearly six million jobs lost between 2000 and 2010.
  • One of every three manufacturing jobs in existence in 2000 was gone by 2010.
  • From 2010-2017, manufacturing employment has shown a modest increase – 7.9%.

Metropolitan areas in Central and Western upstate New York saw a loss of 270,000 manufacturing jobs between 1970 and 2017.

  • Since 1990, 150,000 jobs were lost in these metropolitan area.
  • Percentage losses in these New York metropolitan areas for each decade were larger than for the United States.

Service Sector Employment Change

Because most employment in each metropolitan area is in the service sector, overall employment changes depend primarily on service sector employment change.  Since the percentage of total employment in service sector industries has grown substantially since 1970, the correlation between overall employment change and service sector employment change has grown.

At the national level and in New York State metropolitan areas as a group, in every decade except for the 2000 to 2010 period, service sector employment growth was great enough to more than offset the losses in manufacturing employment. In those decades where there was manufacturing employment growth at the national level, service sector growth was far greater.  For example, between 2010 and 2017, manufacturing employment grew by about 900,000, but service sector job growth was almost 14,000,000.

In the New York City metropolitan area, service sector growth has accelerated since 2001.

  • In upstate New York, service sector employment grew after 2000 in Rochester, Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Buffalo-Niagara Falls and Syracuse, but at slower rates than in the New York metropolitan area.
  • Binghamton and Utica-Rome have seen no service sector employment growth since 2000.

Employment Change: 2001-2016

Economists divide the productive portion of the economy into two categories – goods producing[7] and service providing[8].  In this section the employment change in industries providing goods and services from 2001 to 2016 in New York State metropolitan areas is compared with metropolitan areas in two neighboring rust belt states – Michigan and Ohio.

Overall, the employment performance of the metropolitan areas in this group was significantly weaker than the increase for the United States, which grew by 21.1%.

  • For metropolitan areas in New York, Ohio and Michigan, the median employment change was 3.3%.
  • For New York state metropolitan areas, median growth was 4.4%.

Since 2001, differences in employment performance between the Hudson Valley and upstate-west reflect the differences in manufacturing employment losses and service sector employment gains.

  • The New York City metropolitan area, where two-thirds of the state’s population lives, has seen private sector employment grew more than the national rate (28.6% vs. 21.1% for the nation as a whole), and 40% more than the rate for rust belt metropolitan areas outside New York State.
  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy’s employment growth – 13.3% — is almost two thirds of the national rate.

Job growth in central and western upstate New York, Michigan and Ohio rust belt metropolitan areas, has lagged the nation, in most cases, with most metropolitan areas growing at one-third the rate of the nation, or less.

  • Twelve of fourteen metropolitan areas in Ohio and Michigan and all the upstate central and western metropolitan areas grew at this rate or less.
  • Buffalo’s job growth was 7.1%, while the Syracuse and Rochester grew by 4.4% and 3.3% respectively.
  • Utica-Rome lost 1.7%.
  • Binghamton lost 7.2% of employment in goods and services.

The period from 2001 to 2010 ended in the great recession that began in 2008, while the 2010-2016 period was one of economic recovery.  Because the two decades saw sharply different economic performance, they are examined separately in the following sections.

Employment – 2001-2010

Goods and services employment in the United States increased by 5% between 2001 and 2010.  During that period, most rust belt metropolitan areas saw employment decreases.

  • During the 2001-2010 period, most metropolitan areas in New York State were less affected by the recession than rust belt metros in Ohio and Michigan.
    • Employment in the New York City metropolitan area increased by 9.2% during the period, while Albany-Schenectady-Troy increased by 3%.
    • Buffalo-Niagara, Rochester, and Syracuse had small employment declines, ranging from 0.7% for Buffalo-Niagara to 2.5% for Syracuse.
    • Utica-Rome lost 3.4% of goods and services employment.
    • Binghamton was hardest hit in New York, losing 6.4% of its employment compared with 2001.

Employment in most rust belt metropolitan areas in Ohio and Michigan was harder hit between 2001 and 2010 than it was in New York State, with more than half losing more than 5% of goods producing and service providing jobs.

  • Six metropolitan areas – Toledo, Canton, Detroit, Dayton, Youngstown and Flint lost more than one in ten jobs.
  • Much of the region’s loss of employment can be attributed to employment declines in the automobile and related industries.

Manufacturing vs. Service Employment Change – 2001 to 2010

Between 2001 and 2010, 725,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the New York, Michigan and Ohio metropolitan areas studied, while 870,000 service sector jobs were gained.  But, the balance between manufacturing losses and service sector gains was heavily influenced by the New York City metropolitan area.

  • Of the 870,000 increase in service sector jobs, 679,000 jobs were in the New York metropolitan area, leaving only 190,000 in the remaining metropolitan areas.

Excluding New York City, the data shows that metropolitan areas outside New York state were more affected by the balance of manufacturing job losses and service sector gains than those in New York.

  • Metropolitan areas in Michigan and Ohio lost 510,000 manufacturing jobs while gaining 110,000 service jobs.
  • In New York State, metropolitan areas other than New York City, 92,000 manufacturing jobs were lost, compared with 81,000 service sector jobs gained.

All the metropolitan areas in central and western upstate New York lost more manufacturing jobs than service sector jobs gained.  Albany-Schenectady-Troy and the New York City metropolitan area both gained more service sector jobs than manufacturing job losses.

Employment: 2010-2016

While New York’s metropolitan areas were less affected by the weak economic performance of the 2001-2010 period than those in Ohio and Michigan, most saw a significantly weaker recovery than those other metropolitan areas between 2010 and 2017.

  • Only New York City did better than the nation, with employment growth at 17.8%.
  • Albany, Schenectady, Troy also did relatively well compared to the group of metropolitan areas studied here, ranking eighth of twenty-one.

Job creation was relatively weak in central and western New York metropolitan areas between 2010 and 2016.

  • Only Youngstown performed as poorly as these New York metropolitan areas.
  • The strongest of the central and western New York group, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, saw an increase of 7.9% compared with the median for Michigan and Ohio metropolitan areas – 9.6%.
  • Two metropolitan areas were the weakest of the group. Utica-Rome’s employment increased by 1.7%, while Binghamton’s lost 0.9%.

Compared to Ohio and Michigan, metropolitan areas in New York followed differing paths between 2001 and 2010 and 2010 and 2017.

  • Eastern New York metropolitan areas New York City and Albany-Schenectady-Troy did relatively well in both periods.
    • The New York City metropolitan area’s growth exceeded the nation’s growth and far exceeded the rust belt’s performance in both periods.
    • Albany-Schenectady-Troy did relatively well in both periods, although its performance compared with the other metropolitan areas studied was stronger between 2001 to 2010 compared to 2010 to 2017.
  • In the 2010 to 2017 period, the performance of central and western New York metropolitan areas ranked lower compared to the group than in 2001 to 2010.
    • Central and western New York metropolitan areas had the weakest employment performance of all the metropolitan areas in the group.

 

Manufacturing vs. Service Employment Change – 2010-2016

Service employment growth dominated the 2010-2016 recovery.

  • For the metropolitan areas in New York, Michigan and Ohio studied, service employment increased by two million, compared with 144,000 manufacturing jobs.
  • The New York metropolitan area contributed half the service sector growth – 1.1 million.

Metropolitan areas in central and western New York state had an increase of 94,000 service sector jobs, compared with a loss of 3,400 manufacturing jobs.

  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy was the only bright spot for manufacturing jobs in New York State.
    • The data shows that the growth was about evenly split between semiconductor and biotechnology manufacturing.
  • Binghamton, the only metropolitan area in the group to lose jobs, lost 2,800 manufacturing jobs, compared with a gain of 2,245 service jobs.

Metropolitan areas in Michigan and Ohio saw larger manufacturing gains than those in central and western upstate New York.

  • Manufacturing jobs in Michigan and Ohio increased by 142,000, while service sector employment increased by 789,000.

Worker Earnings

Between 1970 and 2000 average inflation adjusted earnings grew much more in the nation (19.2%) than in any of the metropolitan areas in New York State, except for New York City, but between 2000 and 2016, the picture changed.

  • Neither the United States nor any of the metropolitan areas saw significant growth, apart from Albany-Schenectady-Troy.
  • Some, like New York City, Michigan and Ohio metropolitan areas in the aggregate, Rochester and Binghamton saw losses.

Unlike employment, inflation adjusted worker earnings did not show distinctive trends in the 2000-2010 period vs. the 2010-2016 period.

Because the mix of employment has shifted from manufacturing, with higher earnings per worker towards services, with lower earnings, average worker earnings today are lower than they would be if the employment mix in 2016 was the same as it was in 1970. 

  • For example, if manufacturing and services wages were at the same levels as in 2016, with the manufacturing/services employment mix of 1970, earnings per worker in the Rochester metropolitan area would have been 16% higher than they are.

In general, metropolitan areas that had the greatest shift from manufacturing to services saw the greatest earnings impacts.

  • Binghamton, the most affected, had a 30% decline in manufacturing’s share of goods and services employment.
  • Earnings per worker in 2016 were 33% lower than they might have been had manufacturing’s employment share not decreased, and manufacturing and service wages had remained as they were in 2016.

The relatively greater loss of manufacturing employment in the rust belt, including central and western upstate New York has affected worker earnings more than for the United States.

  • At the beginning of the period, most metropolitan areas in New York and rust belt metropolitan areas in Michigan and Ohio in total had annual worker earnings that were higher than for the United States.
  • By 2016, all but the New York City metropolitan area were below the United States.
  • Rochester’s average earnings per worker in 1970 were 12% higher than the United States average. By 2016, they were 11% below.
  • Binghamton was 6% above the United States average in 1970, and 23% below it in 2016.
  • Only New York City, with its service sector dominated economy and high average service sector wages remained above the average worker earnings for the nation in 2016.[9]

Conclusions

Employment growth in central and western upstate New York metropolitan areas was relatively strong but beginning in 1990 flattened out.  The New York City and Alban-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan areas were less dependent on manufacturing employment and showed stronger growth after 1990.

Employment performance in New York metropolitan areas was, in the 2001-2010 period, generally less affected by the recession than in metropolitan areas in Ohio and Michigan.  But, in the 2010-2017 period, only Albany-Schenectady-Troy and the New York City metropolitan areas in eastern New York performed at average or better than average levels compared to Ohio and Michigan metros.  Buffalo-Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica-Rome and Binghamton were five of the six weakest performers among the metropolitan areas in New York, Michigan, and Ohio.

In every rust belt metropolitan area, manufacturing employment declined substantially between 2001 and 2010.  The best performing metropolitan area in the study, New York City, lost 110,000 manufacturing jobs, 38% of its 2001 manufacturing employment; the worst, Flint, lost nearly two-thirds.  During the 2010-2017 period, manufacturing employment recovered some of its losses in the earlier period, with more than half of the metropolitan areas in the studies gaining 10% or more.  Unfortunately, in New York State, only Albany-Schenectady-Troy saw significant manufacturing gains between 2010 and 2017.  Even so, the manufacturing gains in Albany were less than one-third the size of service sector employment gains.  The New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton metros saw continued losses.

The comparative employment data examined here shows significant differences in the performance of metropolitan areas between 2001 and 2010 and 2010 and 2017. The differences are likely have resulted from several factors.  Manufacturing employment took a particularly large hit between 2001 and 2010 and has recovered slightly since then.  The historic dependence of many of the metropolitan areas in upstate New York, Ohio and Michigan on manufacturing made them more vulnerable to manufacturing losses than other places.  Import competition, technological obsolescence and productivity improvements were all factors, but had differing impacts on industries in the metropolitan areas in this study.

The average earnings of workers in rust belt metropolitan areas were higher than the nation in 1970 but are now lower.   Average worker earnings between rust belt metropolitan areas in central and western upstate New York, Ohio and Michigan have been stagnant or declined since 1970. Average worker earnings for the United States increased by nearly 20% between 1970 and 2000.  Since then, average earnings at the national level and in rust belt metropolitan areas have not grown, with few exceptions.[10]

Why Rust Belt Metropolitan Areas Have Lagged

Much of the weak employment performance in Central and Western New York metropolitan areas, and in other rust belt locales is the result of their dependence on manufacturing.  The long-term decline in manufacturing employment nationally and in New York State has primarily been the result of efforts by manufacturing businesses to increase their competitiveness by cutting costs.  Though labor costs as a percentage of total production costs vary widely among manufacturing industries, they are important in almost all of them.

One means of reducing unit labor costs is through productivity gains from automation and process improvements.  Some analyses have concluded that more efficient production methods are responsible for as much as 88% of manufacturing employment losses over the long-term, though the effect the effect of this varies significantly by industry.[7]

The movement of manufacturers to locations with lower labor costs is another substantial factor in the decline.  In the twentieth century, rust belt states lost many manufacturing jobs to lower cost, non-unionized, locations in the south.  More recently, manufacturing jobs have moved offshore[27].

Over the longer term, research shows that the rust belt began to suffer in the 1950s because of the very large firms that dominated the region’s most important industries faced little product or labor competition.[11] As a result, workers received a significant wage premium, and industries had relatively low labor productivity growth rates, making them vulnerable to foreign competition.

Another recent study[12] found that “The sluggish job growth of many deindustrialized metropolitan areas was only partly due to the fact that these metropolitan areas specialized in the wrong industries…instead it came about primarily because these areas underperformed the rest of the nation with respect to the industries that they had.[13] Both of these analyses point to the fact that in slow growing areas, “the performance of the particular firms and plants in those areas and/or the relative unattractiveness of those areas to firms seeking to open, grow or relocate were the problem.[14]

In the late 20th century, the Northeast and Midwest lost manufacturing jobs to the South and West.  According to “Locating American Manufacturing: Trends in the Geography of Production, by Susan Helper, Timothy Krueger and Howard Wial,[15]This trend represented a shift of manufacturing jobs toward regions where right-to-work laws are more common, and, in the case of the South, toward a lower-wage region where generous industrial recruitment subsides have long been an important economic development policy tool.”  But, in the recent past, wage differentials between rust belt and Southern locations have declined and are less important in the face of competition from low wage countries.

The loss of manufacturing jobs in the decade from 2000 to 2010 was far larger (5,700,000 jobs) than any other decade in the 1970-2016 period.   While long-term analyses point to productivity gains as the main cost of lost manufacturing jobs, there is evidence that since 2000, offshore production has been the primary cause of lost jobs.  Daron Acemoglu, David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon H. Hanson concluded in Import Competition and the Great U.S. Employment Sag of the 2000s,” found that between two and two million, four hundred thousand jobs were lost to Chinese competition between 2000 and 2011. They point out that “the coefficient estimates imply that had import competition from China not increased after 1999, trade-exposed industries in local labor markets would have avoided the loss of 2.35 million jobs.[28] Manufacturing employment has rebounded slightly since 2010 – increasing by 700,000 jobs (6%) between 2011 and 2017.

In part, the cause of the poor performance of many rust belt metropolitan areas was insufficient industrial diversification.  Because they had high concentrations of manufacturing, these areas were vulnerable to technological changes and import competition that sharply reduced manufacturing employment over the past four decades.  In contrast, higher concentrations of service providing businesses in metropolitan areas like New York and Albany-Schenectady-Troy have protected them from the collapse of manufacturing employment that disadvantaged metropolitan areas that had been more dependent on manufacturing.

Many of the metropolitan areas in this study are small enough to be significantly affected by the loss of jobs at a few large businesses.  For example, the displacement of Kodak’s film business by digital technology cost the Rochester MSA 16,000 jobs at Kodak of the 39,000 manufacturing jobs lost between 2001 and 2017.  No doubt more jobs were lost at Kodak’s suppliers.  Xerox in Rochester, Chrysler’s New Process Gear Division and Carrier in Syracuse had smaller but still significant impacts.

Service sector employment has grown slowly or declined in mid-sized and smaller rust belt metropolitan areas for several reasons.  First, a large portion of service sector employment serves other businesses and the population in its area.  When hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs disappeared in New York State, many service sector jobs were lost as a result.  Second, for advanced services, in some cases, rust belt metropolitan areas are too small to provide large labor pools with the specialized labor skills needed by industries like information and financial services.  Third, industrial consolidation has led to the loss of some corporate headquarters in small and medium sized metropolitan areas.  An example is the purchase of regional banks by megabanks, which became possible after the Glass-Steagall act was repealed.

Implications for State Policy

Traditionally, the goal of state and local economic development agencies has been to encourage businesses to locate or remain or expand within their jurisdictions.  Economic development agencies at the state level perform several functions, including providing financial assistance for purposes such as infrastructure development, urban revitalization and encouraging business investments within the state.  These agencies typically attempt to maintain and create jobs by providing financial assistance to employers to help them strengthen their work forces though training, or by providing tax incentives and/or financial assistance for capital investments.

Since they are business facing agencies, their approaches focus on factors that influence company location decisions, usually at the time that the companies themselves are considering those issues.  This perspective leads to policies that relate to the availability of sites, the costs of building and equipping facilities, and the availability of labor with appropriate skills.  There is little significant research that focuses on the effectiveness of different approaches.

However, available evidence does not support the notion that tax reductions, or the use of business incentives plays a significant role in creating jobs by increasing the demand for workers.  The largest recent study of the effects of tax reductions and business incentives found “The effects of net taxes, gross taxes and incentives are always statistically insignificant.”[16]  As the author points out, “Small variations in wages from place to place can offset the largest tax incentives offered by governments.  The highest incentives that are typically provided could be entirely offset by a competing area that had no incentives, but had labor that was 79 cents per hour cheaper in wages.[17]

When financial incentives are employed to encourage job creation, the most effective approaches provide significant upfront assistance and have short durations (because businesses heavily discount future benefits compared with near term subsidies) and include claw backs and first source agreements (targeting low income people).[18]

Because relatively few business capital investments involve attracting businesses from outside the state, most effort is focused on encouraging the modernization or expansion of existing operations.  During the time I worked at Empire State Development (from 1995-2007), the agency provided financial assistance to thousands of upstate companies for training and capital projects.  Many of these projects would not have taken place, at least at the same scale, without state assistance.  Although I’m not currently at ESD, much of what the agency does today reflects the same objectives and similar approaches to assisting businesses.

While ESD at the state level, and economic developers at the local level, aid service businesses as well as manufacturers, economic development agencies over the years have emphasized the retention of manufacturing as a primary strategy.  This has been a rational approach, since manufacturing jobs have several desirable characteristics: they are typically in industries whose products are sold outside New York state, thereby bringing income into the state; they have historically offered relatively high wages; and in many cases they did not require specialized skills.  Today, because of automation, manufacturing processes have changed, and factory jobs often require specialized skills.  There are far fewer manufacturing jobs now than there were twenty years ago. Though we may not soon see severe decreases, like those of the 2000-2010 decade, fewer than one in ten workers is now employed in manufacturing in most areas.

For those reasons, economic development efforts should reflect the reality that most job growth will continue to come from service sector businesses.  Primary economic development strategies for upstate metropolitan areas should work to strengthen regional service sector businesses that sell services outside the region. Efforts to retain manufacturers are equally important but must recognize that assistance to manufacturers to increase productivity may reduce the number of jobs at facilities but may help preserve those jobs over the longer term.

Encouraging new business development through entrepreneurship is another avenue that state economic development agencies can effectively promote.  Entrepreneurial assistance programs and business incubators, often aimed at disadvantaged groups and businesses, can increase successful business startups.

These activities represent short-term interventions that work within the longer-term context of the existing economic, cultural and demographic environments found where they operate.  But, while economic development agencies can incentivize company decisions in favor of a location, by providing financial assistance, facilitating other government actions, such as permitting, training or by coordinating with local agencies, they should also play a role in contributing to longer-term actions to strengthen regional competitiveness.

 

______________________________________________________

The contributions of time and insights by Merideth Andreucci, Kent Gardner, Amy Schoch, Robert Ward and Rockefeller Institute staff including James Malatras, who read earlier drafts of this piece, are gratefully acknowledged.

[1] The Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U. S. Department of Commerce definition: “Earnings is the sum of three components of personal income–wages and salaries, supplements to wages and salaries, and proprietors’ income.”  See:  https://www.bea.gov/regional/definitions/

[2] “Economic Development in the New York State Budget,” Citizens Budget Commission of New York, https://cbcny.org/research/economic-development-new-york-state-budget

[3]A New Panel Database on Business Incentives for Economic Development Offered by State and Local Governments in the United States,” Timothy J. Bartik, W. E. Upjohn Institute,  http://research.upjohn.org/reports/225/

[4] Includes $69 million in Research and Development Tax Credits.

[5] Data is from U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Economic Accounts Tables:  https://bea.gov/.  Most BEA data was taken from the Headwaters Economics Economic Profile System:  https://headwaterseconomics.org/tools/economic-profile-system/about/

[6] Metropolitan areas in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois (except for the Chicago MSA) and Wisconsin. Chicago like New York City is excluded because its industrial composition has a small percentage of manufacturing employment.

[7] Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; mining; construction; and manufacturing.

[8] Utilities; wholesale trade; retail trade; transportation and warehousing; information; finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing; professional and business services; educational services, health care, and social assistance; arts, entertainment, recreational, accommodation, and food services; and other services (except public administration).

[9] New York’s position weakened between 2000 and 2016 because of decreases in average earnings per worker in the financial services industries.

[10] One exception is Albany-Schenectady-Troy, where rising government employee earnings have benefited workers in the private sector, as market competition for workers reflects the opportunity for potential employees to take well paid government jobs.

[11] “Competitive Pressure and the Decline of the Rust Belt: A Macroeconomic Analysis,” Simeon Alder, David Lagakos and Lee Ohanian, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 20538, http://www.nber.org/papers/w20538

[12] “The Consequences of Metropolitan Manufacturing Decline:  Testing Conventional Wisdom,” Alec Friedhoff, Howard Wial, and Harold Wolman, Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/1216_manufacturing_wial_friedhoff.pdf

[13] Ibid, p. 15

[14] Ibid, p. 11.

[15] “Locating American Manufacturing: Trends in the Geography of Production,” Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program,  https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/0509_locating_american_manufacturing_report.pdf , p. 29.

[16] Timothy J. Bartik, “A New Panel Database on Business Incentives for Economic Development Offered by State and Local Governments in the United States,” p. 110.

[17] Bartik, 2009. “What Works in State Economic Development?” In Growing the State Economy: Evidence-Based Policy Options, 1st edition, Stephanie Eddy, and Karen Bogenschneider, eds. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, pp. 19.

[18] Ibid.

[19] NBER Working Paper No. 19843, The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2014) 129 (4): 1553-1623 http://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/qjecon/v129y2014i4p1553-1623.html

[20] Analogous to metropolitan areas but includes rural areas.

[21] https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/

[22] https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-more-755-million-economic-and-community-development-resources-awarded

[23] These include:  “Solar City: The Risk Embedded in Buffalo’s Billion,” John Bacheller, Policybynumbers.com,  http://policybynumbers.com/solar-city-the-risk-embedded-in-buffalos-billion ,

and “Nexgen in Syracuse: Throwing Good Money After Bad,” John Bacheller, Policybynumbers.com, http://policybynumbers.com/nexgen-in-syracuse-throwing-good-money-after-bad

[24] “America’s Advanced Industries:  What they Are, Where they Are, and Why they Matter,” Mark Muro, Johathan Rothwell, Scott Andes, Kenan Fikri, and Siddharth Kulkarni, Brookings Advanced Industries Project, F4.ebruary 2015, p.

[25] “Solar City: The Risk Embedded in Buffalo’s Billion,” op. cit.

[26] NBER Working Paper No. 19843, The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2014) 129 (4): 1553-1623 http://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/qjecon/v129y2014i4p1553-1623.html

[27] See:  “Import Competition and the Great U.S. Employment Sag of the 2000s,” Daron Acemoglu, David Autor, David Dorn,  Gordon H. Hanson, 2014.  http://economics.mit.edu/files/10590

[28] Ibid., p. S181.

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