Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Rochester in early January and held a campaign-style event at Tower280. He talked about how Upstate New York is on the way back and the state has more private sector jobs than ever before.
After his speech, I asked him how he can be so positive when Rochester has 40,000 fewer people working than it did at its peak in the late 1990s. Cuomo called me a cynic and said we’re all going to die one day. The governor was joking, of course. But new data shows the Rochester economy is no laughing matter.
First, census data shows a net loss of 25,000 people in Rochester over the last five years when you add up the number of people who moved in and the number of people who moved out. If it wasn’t for new births and international immigrants, we would be in a population free fall. People blame taxes, the weather and lack of jobs.
Speaking of jobs, data out last week from the New York State Labor Department shows Rochester had the most job losses in the state over the last year. We lost 1 percent of jobs between February 2015 and February 2016. That’s 4,700 jobs.
Meantime, in a Democrat and Chronicle article holding the state accountable about jobs promises, officials say some of their efforts to create jobs are paying off. Others will pay off in the future. And some probably won’t pay off, after all. For now, we wait.
The state’s economic development policy is to throw obnoxious amounts of money at companies and hope they create jobs. The state calls it investment, but it could also be called gambling. Most recently, Cuomo came to Rochester to announce two photonics companies are coming here. He said they would create 1,400 jobs, even though neither company makes anything right now and both have a tiny number of workers. As with other announcements on photonics, the jobs estimates are purely speculative.
As much as I love Rochester, it’s clear there’s something deeply wrong with our economic climate. Instead of focusing on making Rochester a wonderful place for all to do business, the state is focusing on only a few businesses in programs such as Start-Up NY. The big picture has been lost.
It turns out I was right to be cynical. I was also right. The region is not on the upswing, as Cuomo would have us believe.
Update: The state labor department questions its own data. Whatever the case, it’s not a pretty picture. – RB 3/29/16
Links of the Day:
- No matter what you think of charter schools, this real estate scramble makes no sense. Rochester’s charter schools are now forced to move to Greece.
- The Buffalo News gives NYSUT way too much credit for derailing education “reform” in New York. The “reform” was derailed because it was deeply unpopular among voters and it was also just bad policy.
- New York’s minimum wage deal may be very complicated, with different pay and phase-in schedules for different regions.
- The Erie County Executive is not happy with NFL owners pushing for new Bills stadium.
- Single mother from Western New York gives real reason for fake license plate that went viral.
- Rochester is an amazing place for deaf and hard of hearing people.