(NYS) Statistics released by government agencies show growth of employees on nonfarm payrolls through Feb. 2013 in NYS lags reported growth for the country as a whole (see chart). Only 1 metro region in NYS is better than the nation’s average – Ithaca, and growth of nonfarm employment there is largely because of the Ivy League university. Every large metro area in upstate NY has worse growth of nonfarm employment than both the national and NYS averages.
The data reflect a troubling pattern for WNY: as you travel further upstate and to the west from NYC, the growth of nonfarm employment tends to worsen. While some of this trend is purely a demographic phenomenon – upstate NY is generally losing population and its employment will thereby tend to fall as well, there is also a relative component to it that demonstrates poor economic performance. Over the past year through Feb. 2013, the unemployment rate for the Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY metro area is higher by 0.1%.1
Community leaders in WNY tend to resort to “boosterism” as a coping mechanism for hard economic times here, preaching that things are on the “right track” and we should just wait a little longer until prosperity arrives. While remaining positive in the face of troubling conditions reflects a popular virtue, basing business and policy decisions on Pollyannaish views of an economic revival that is not evident on the ground is foolish. The economic situation in upstate NY is very serious, and it requires serious analysis – not merely wishful thinking.