New York: One State, Two Stories

New York: One State, Two Stories
AP Photo/Mike Groll

From a statewide perspective, New York's economic performance since the end of the Great Recession hasn't been especially outstanding, roughly equaling the U.S. averages for growth in private employment and GDP, while slightly trailing the national rate of increase in personal income since early 2009. But a closer look at the numbers reveals a tale of two New Yorks. The 12-county metropolitan district that includes New York City, with a population of 13.3 million, has gained jobs and grown personal income much faster than the nation as a whole during the recovery. The other New York—comprising the 50 counties north and west of Dutchess and Orange Counties in the mid-Hudson Valley, and home to 6.2 million—has trailed far behind most of the country. In some key respects, much of upstate New York has yet to recover from the downturn.

Since the recession ended, upstate New York has gained private-sector jobs at one-third the national rate and less than one-quarter the downstate rate. During the same period, only three states—Connecticut, West Virginia, and Wyoming—had lower private job-creation rates than the upstate region. Twenty New York counties, all upstate, still lagged their prerecession private-sector employment levels in the spring of 2019. Upstate's once-mighty manufacturing sector has been especially weak over the past decade, losing jobs even as manufacturing employment rose nationally for the first time in 50 years.

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