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Credit: City of Rochester

 

A new study shows racial income and employment gaps hurt all of us.

PolicyLink‘s report indicates metro areas could add billions of dollars to their economies if people of color earned the average wages of white people.

In Rochester, 22 percent of the population was made up of racial minorities in 2010. Our GDP would go up 9 percent – about $4 billion if inequality was reduced. In Rochester, most of the racial income gap is due to unemployment – 66 percent, meaning minorities have higher jobless rates. The rest is due to wage differences, meaning minorities earn less money.

Why is this happening? PolicyLink says:

Lack of access to high-quality education at all levels, from preK to college, accounts for a large portion of differences in employment and income by race, but does not fully explain the gap. Broader economic trends—a dearth of job opportunities overall, fewer “middle-skill” jobs that offer path ways to good careers for people without four-year college degrees, and stagnant and declining wages in the growing low-wage sector where people of color are overrepresented—play a role. Racial discrimination in hiring, promotions, and wages, and barriers to employment related to immigration status, criminal records, and lack of reliable transportation factor in as well.

What do we do now? PolicyLink has some suggestions:

1. Create new good jobs.

2. Raise the floor on low-wage work.

3. Strengthen schools and job training programs.

The authors say focusing on this issue is imperative, as people of color will make up the majority of the population in the United State in the coming years. Focusing on inequality could help everyone.

 

Help Me Reach My Goal – And Help Women In Need!

 

I’m the honorary chairperson of an event Sunday that will help women and girls climb out of poverty and be economically self-sufficient. The Women’s Foundation of the Genesee Valley is holding its first 5k and Walk. The Women’s Foundation gives grants to groups that provide job training, financial literacy classes and other kinds of support to help women get on their feet – and stay there. Thanks to readers of this blog, I’m not too far from my goal of raising $1,000. Will you consider even a small donation of $5? Thank you!

 

Links of the Day:

 

- Compensation has shrunk for all income groups, except at the very highest levels, writes Brighton’s David Cay Johnston.

- Cars remain king – and a barrier to economic opportunity.

- Developers keep building in Victor, even though the Rochester region’s population is not growing. This is sprawl with no growth.

- Rochester will not be getting its own billion under Cuomo.

- The sometimes strange relationship between the Clintons and the Cuomos.

- A girl scalded by coffee at a Buffalo Denny’s won a $500,000 settlement.

- “It comes down to Pittsford not wanting tattooed people in their town.”

skyline

Credit: City of Rochester

 

During a visit to Rochester earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a couple comments that cannot go unchecked. He told the Democrat and Chronicle:

“Things haven’t look this good in Rochester in decades and decades and decades…Are we bumping up against nirvana? No. But are we better off now than we were four years ago? Yes.”

Is Rochester is better off than it has been in decades? There’s a lot of evidence to the contrary.

According to the New York State Labor Department, the Rochester area hit its peak jobs number in 2000, with 529,800 non-farm jobs. Last year, there were 514,500 jobs.

Unemployment was 3.7 percent in 1990, 3.6 percent in 2000 and 7.1 percent in 2013.

But perhaps the most telling statistic is that there were 522,800 people in the local labor force last year. That’s the lowest number of people since before 1990.

In 2000, the median household income in Monroe County was $44,891. In 2012, it was $52,700. If the median household income had kept pace with inflation, the 2012 earnings would have been $59,853.

Are we better off than we were four years ago? The area was already starting to recover jobs lost during the recession when Cuomo was elected. But during his tenure, our economy was called out as the second-slowest growing in the entire country. Meantime, poverty is up and income inequality has grown.

There are reasons to be optimistic about the future, as well as our area’s tremendous potential. But the governor must have been wearing rose-colored glasses during his visit.

Links of the Day:

 

- The state spent $37.5 million of Hurricane Sandy relief money on advertisements!

- State Senator George Maziarz is in trouble.

- Child migrants have been coming along to America since Ellis Island.

- Cellphone bans have not made us better drivers.

- Eight charts explain the return of school segregation.

- Teacher tenure also protects good teachers.

Red light cameras tag thousands for undeserved tickets in Chicago. (Same operator as in Rochester.)

- “The fear of predators is part of what’s making kids fat, by keeping them inside, sedentary, and near the fridge.”

- Here are nine outcomes of human cloning.

 

Tweet of the Day:

 

metro chart

 

Rochester has one of the slowest-growing economies in the country. We ranked second-to-last in a U.S. Conference of Mayor’s report on metro economies. Rochester’s Real Gross Metro Product (GMP) actually shrank .8 percent in 2013. That places us above only Poughkeepsie.

The report predicts our average annual economic growth rate through 2020 will remain painfully slow at 1.7 percent. Employment in Rochester inched up only .5 percent in 2013. The report predicts Rochester will regain its pre-recession employment peak in the third quarter of this year. (We lost 18,500 jobs since 2008!)

City of Rochester Communications Burear

City of Rochester Communications Burear

This poor showing could be explained by something we often hear: “Rochester don’t experience the high highs or the low lows.” One could say we’re doing pretty well, considering the gigantic shift in our economy from one dominated by the Big Three to one dominated by small businesses and health and educational institutions. But at what point does that stop being an excuse?

There are some positives in the report. Rochester still has roughly the same size economy as Buffalo, a larger metro. (Our GMP is $47 billion. Buffalo’s is $47.5 billion. The two metros each have a 3.8 percent share of New York’s Gross State Product.)

Rochester has a sizable economy for a city our size. If Rochester was a country, our economy would be ranked between Ethiopia and Slovenia. If we were a state, our economy would be ranked between North Dakota and South Dakota.

The report notes that metro economies are important:

Metropolitan areas continued to be the beating heart of the US economy in 2013. They were home to 84% of the nation’s population, 86% of total non-farm employment, 87% of total real income, 90% of new housing starts, and 90% of real gross domestic product. And they are expanding: total metropolitan employment climbed by 1.9% last year, real gross product increased by 2.1%, and metropolitan area population rose by 0.9%, with each growth rate faster than that of the US.

Rochester – and other Upstate cities – are clearly not enjoying the same momentum as other metros. Why is growth so slow? What will it take to jump start our economy?

 

Links of the Day:

 

- The number of teen mothers has dropped 40 percent in Rochester.

- A lawsuit is planned in New York to challenge teacher tenure laws. One of the potential plaintiffs lives in Rochester. (In Rochester today, the governor said he had no position on a lawsuit, but said the teacher evaluation system he’s “pushing aggressively” addresses the issue of bad teachers.)

- Rochester has the most homeless school children among Upstate cities.

- Medical marijuana in New York is really complicated. For starters, you have to pay cash. 

- CSX opposes high-speed rail on its tracks.

- Experts question the benefits of going gluten-free for most people. Gluten-free food often has more sugar and less fiber and vitamins.

- Costco has been named the most LGBT company. A Costco store is slated to open in Rochester this fall.

- Wegmans assures Irish minister it will continue to carry Irish foods.

 

Tweets of the Day:

 

 

The U.S. Census released data on business patterns for 2012. I did a comparison for selected retail, restaurants and recreation in the Rochester metropolitan area.

As for retail, the total number of establishments fell from 3,915 in 2002 to 3,548 in 2012. It’s clear the Internet took a bite out of some brick and mortar places. But other trends are revealed, such as the fact we’re buying fewer flowers.

We’re eating out more, with the total number of establishments climbing from 2,014 to 2,240. There are fewer bars, but the number of liquor stores went up.

Recreation patterns show we’re golfing and bowling less, but working out more.

Have a look:

RETAIL

 

HOTELSRESTAURANTS

 

ENTERTAINMENT

 

Links of the Day:

 

- Parents are ridiculously pushy. Kids can’t take criticism and solve their own problems. Such is the state of youth sports in Rochester.

- A poll of New Yorkers shows deep dissatisfaction with Common Core, as well as trust in teachers.

- I found this New York Times piece on Common Core to be overly positive. It makes it seem as if this child must learn these new, wonderful, challenging standards, or fail at life. There was no questioning of the standards themselves.

- Could a lawsuit challenging teacher tenure be filed in New York?

- Do school dress codes inadvertently treat girls as sex objects?

- There are a lot fewer people playing golf in Monroe County.

- Do we really need to drug test eighth-graders? A girl (after my own heart) protested and got booted from the National Honor Society.

- The story of a dad his autistic son who loves the Phillies will touch your heart.

What brain drain?

Demographer Wendell Cox crunched census data for 51 metropolitan areas with populations of more than 1 million. He looked at the growth of people with bachelors degrees and higher between 2007 and 2012. All of the metros saw gains.

Rochester ranked 15th of 51 metros for percentage increase of educated people. In 2007, we had 244,277 people with degrees. In 2012, we had 280,650, a 13 percent increase. We were ahead of tech hubs Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.

What’s happening? Rochester has always had a high rate of degrees per capita. But that doesn’t explain why we gained 36,373 college-educated people. The economy is not great. More people are still moving out of Rochester than moving in.

Credit: City of Rochester

Credit: City of Rochester

Here are a couple things that could explain it. Brookings found young adult employment in Rochester didn’t fall as much as other parts of the country during the recession, a sign there’s not a huge brain drain. Growing sectors of our economy continue to be health care and education, fields requiring college. We’ve been told there are 23,000 unfilled jobs in the region. Perhaps college graduates with the right skill set are not finding it hard to get jobs. It’s also possible many college graduates are underemployed.

Maybe the answer is simpler: Rochester is a nice, affordable place to live.

 

Rochester v. Buffalo

 

Meanwhile, a headline in the Buffalo News touted the growth in the Millennial population and a reverse of the brain drain. Rochester is doing better. Buffalo ranked 35th in the growth of college educated residents between 2007 and 2012 –  10.3 percent or 23,811 people. Also, Buffalo saw 10.1 percent growth of people aged 20 to 34 between 2006 and 2012. Rochester saw 11.8 percent growth. 

Let’s hope both cities continue the momentum.

 

Links of the Day:

 

- Monroe County and Frank Sterling, who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, is poised to get a $7 million settlement from Monroe County.

- Reinventing schools can go terribly wrong, as this observer of one such undertaking in Rochester discovered.

- Could a basic guaranteed income ever come to the United States? There are people on the right and left who support it, but would go about implementing it in different ways. PBS News Hour did a fascinating “what-if” story on this topic.

- Delta Sonic wants the Clover Lanes property.

- “Zombie Residency,” Tree Climbing,” and “Meaning of Life.” Weird SUNY courses.

 

Tweet of the Day:

 

Credit: City of Rochester

Credit: City of Rochester

 

Rochester area blacks and Hispanics are lagging behind whites in employment and income, with Hispanics faring slightly better than blacks. That’s according to the National Urban League’s annual State of Black America 2014 report.

Rochester ranked 59th of 77 metropolitan areas on black and white unemployment. Rochester has 18 percent black unemployment versus 6.9 percent white unemployment. 

Rochester ranked 64 out of 77 metros on black and white median household income. Black households earn $27,210. White households earn more than twice as much –  $55,002.

On Hispanic and white unemployment, Rochester ranked 77th out of 83 metros. Hispanic unemployment is 14.5 percent, compared to 6.9 percent white unemployment.

Rochester ranked 71st out of 83 metros on Hispanic and white income equality, with Hispanic households earning $30,486 compared to $55,002 for white households.

Nationally, black unemployment is 13.1 percent and Hispanic unemployment is 9.1 percent, compared to 6.5 percent for whites.

Here in the United States, our story is rife with examples indicating that despite being fve years out of the Great Recession, we have yet to realize a great recovery. Instead, what we see emerging is indisputable clarity of what I refer to as “The Great Divide.” Whether it is termed income inequality, loss of social mobility, the eroding middle class or opportunity inequality, at its core is a great divide between the people who have homes, secure jobs, savings and retirement and the people who have only some—or worse yet, none—of these.

– Marc H. Morial, President & CEO of National Urban League

 

Links of the Day:

 

- Segregation in Buffalo schools has returned to 1970s levels.

- Rochester area schools are hiring more social workers, as children come to school with more and more problems related to poverty.

- Albany immigrants are increasingly settling in the suburbs. (Also true in Rochester.)

- Turning a Catholic church in Syracuse into a mosque has been controversial.

- Who’s on the short list to buy the Buffalo Bills? A man most Rochesterians have never heard of.

- A man is opening an egg factory in Ohio. He has good-paying jobs available. He can’t find people to fill them.

 

Tweets of the Day:

 

 

 

Source: Brookings Institution

Source: Brookings Institution

 

Fewer teens have jobs.

The Brookings Institution found only 26 percent of 16 to 19-year-olds in the U.S. were employed in 2011, compared to 45 percent in 2000.

This trend played out in Rochester, though our metro is doing better than much of the country in getting teens into jobs. The graph above shows teen employment dropped from 46.7 percent to 33 percent.

Brookings found white teens from higher income households were more likely to be employed. Teens with more education and work experience were more likely to have jobs.  Metros with higher overall employment and a large number of high school dropouts have lower teen employment. Teen employment is important because it helps workers increase future earnings and employment.

Brookings calls the group of teens most impacted by not working “disconnected youth.” They are not enrolled in school and do not have jobs. The graph below tells us how many disconnected youth and young adults are in Rochester. On that measurement, Rochester doesn’t fare as well. Nearly 14,000 16-24 year-olds in our region fall into this category.

 

brookings 2

Source: Brookings Institution

 

Brain Drain?

Employment of young adults also took a hit across the country. In 2000, 72 percent of 20-24-year-olds had jobs in the U.S. In 2011, 60 percent were employed. Those with college degrees were more likely to have jobs.

In Rochester, young adult employment had a more modest dip, dropping from 70.4 to 67.4 percent. Rochester ranked 34th out of 100 metros in terms of young adult employment, counteracting the notion of a “brain drain.” Syracuse had one of the worst young adult employment rates in the country – 56.7 percent.

Brookings has a number of recommendations to better connect youth and jobs, especially for non-college bound graduates.

(Read about my experience working at Wegmans as a teenager.)

 

Links of the Day:

 

- There’s really no excuse for government financial data, such as checkbook registers, not to be online.

- Skepticism of Kodak’s new CEO.

- Upstate New York ducks are suffering from unprecedented starvation.

- A Rochester Institute of Technology professor asks if disseminating misinformation about climate change is criminal.

- Live-tweeting scanner traffic is a “thing” now, but there are many reasons to be cautious with this information.

- I do not understand the concern some people have about taking pictures of children in public places.

- This requires a tissue…or two.

 

ICYMI:

 

- Mt. Read Boulevard could get a major makeover.

- A consultant’s report paints a troubling picture of Monroe High School.

Source: Brookings Institution

Source: Brookings Institution

 

Rochester is doing pretty well when it comes to high tech jobs. Brookings Institution found Rochester ranks among top one-third of metros in percentage of STEM jobs. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Brookings decided to include STEM jobs that require technical skill, but do not require a bachelor’s degree, such as machinists and auto techs.

The chart above makes it clear why we care so much about STEM jobs. They pay more. The people in STEM jobs also invent things. These innovators are crucial to growing companies.

This is why I wish our local and state government would focus more on attracting STEM jobs than casino, retail and call center jobs.

(Buffalo is not so hot on the STEM front.)

Links of the Day:

 

- “There is no saving me.” Edward Snowden knew the risks.

- Booz Allen employs 25,000. Nearly half have top secret security clearances.

- Has the United States become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum?

- Joining the ACC is a financial windfall for Syracuse University athletics.

“Across the country, schools & school districts are overreacting to risk.”

Rochester economic performance indicators among 300 worldwide metros.                           Source: Brookings Institution

 

The Brookings Institution came out with its “Global Metro Monitor” comparing 300 of the world’s largest cities. I was stunned at the relative lack of growth in the Rochester region between 1993 and 2007. We saw only .2 percent job growth during this time? All of Upstate New York essentially flatlined for two decades.

Today, it’s encouraging Rochester is adding jobs at a faster pace, but there’s a lot of lost ground to cover.

Links of the Day:

- A Rochester man claims he had millions of dollars of baseball cards stolen. The strange tale ended with a federal jury verdict.

- The Buffalo News compared rates of procedures and tests for Medicaid patients in various cities. For example, Rochester Medicaid patients are twice as likely to have a procedure to get their arteries unclogged.

- Should the Syracuse police chief go around saying Bernie Fine’s accusers are credible, even though no charges were filed and there won’t be a vetting of evidence?

- Ever get mad at sidewalk cyclists? “Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all.”

A study from Trulia shows it is cheaper to buy than rent in the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the United States:

With a 20% down payment, a 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 3.5% and at the 25% federal tax bracket, homeownership is cheaper than renting in all of the 100 largest metros by a wide margin. There is no market where the financial decision is even close, so long as you plan to stay in the home for at least seven years, get 3.5% mortgage, and itemize your tax deductions. However, how much cheaper it is to buy a home than to rent really depends a LOT on where you live.

In Rochester, the study found the monthly cost of home ownership is $790, while the monthly cost to rent is $1,358. Trulia based monthly costs on the average across all properties, for sale and for rent. Home ownership costs include mortgage, maintenance, insurance, property taxes, closing costs and other costs. Renting costs included rent, security deposit and insurance.

I think those rental figures are high. The 2010 census shows only 27.9 percent of housing units with a mortgage had monthly housing costs below $1,000. Only 18.1 percent of rental units cost more than $1,000 a month.

Buying a home has tax advantages and builds equity, but it’s far more economical for me to rent, according to numerous calculators. Try this one.

Links of the Day:

- Chicago teachers and the school district have reached an agreement in principal and teachers could be back to work on Monday.

- Kodak may abandon its patent sale, meaning the scramble for cash is on.

- Fuji is getting out of the motion picture film business, which is a boost for Kodak.

- In Rochester and elsewhere, doctors are “firing” parents of patients who refuse to get vaccines.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

 

The Rochester Business Alliance came out with its annual survey asking local companies if they plan to give raises next year. The Rochester Business Journal reports:

Some 88 percent of respondents to the RBA’s survey of pay trends said they are planning increases for some or all employees in 2013, up from 85 percent in 2012. Nine percent said they were projecting a wage freeze or pay reduction for some or all employees in the coming year.

(snip)

Area employers surveyed say they are budgeting for a projected pay increase of 3 percent in 2013, down slightly from the projected 3.1 percent for 2012.

(snip)

Some 156 firms, representing 82,400 employees, participated in at least one of the surveys, RBA officials said.

I think this survey has limited usefulness. Past predictions of raises from this survey haven’t come to pass, as the Democrat and Chronicle points out:

Those pay raises expected by RBA-surveyed companies are rosier than what reality has been for wages in the Rochester region. According to state Labor Department data, the average 2011 wage in the Finger Lakes region was $42,545, up 2 percent over the 2010 average, which was itself up 2.2 percent over 2009’s average.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data paints an even worse picture in Rochester for wages, as I reported on Labor Day for 13WHAM:

Wages have fallen about 7 percent since 2008, with the average worker bringing home $53 less a week. Weekly wages might be creeping up, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics report they went up .7 percent between July 2011 and July 2012.

This survey came out on the same day the Census reported the middle class has shrunk to an all-time low, with the median income having declined in the U.S. in 2011. The 2000’s were the lost decade for the middle income worker and some predict this one is on its way.

It would be truly great if Rochester area workers get 3 percent raises in 2013. That’s a big “if,” given the trend over the past few years. And those raises won’t make up for what has been lost.

Links of the Day:

- Check out this email sent to striking Chicago teachers (many of whom are locked out of email) by Jean-Claude Brizard saying, “I have been in urban education for more than 26 years and I would never abandon my post.” Um…….

- The Chicago strike has put the spotlight on teacher evaluations. As this New York Times article makes clear, the research on evaluations is new and contradictory.

- It appears the state is holding up a new lease for the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium and key deadlines for funding are not being met.

- Rochester’s only Jewish senior living community is about to serve nonkosher food.

- Walking downtown last night, look what I passed by:

 

Some facts about Rochester workers this Labor Day from my story that aired today on 13WHAM:

In 1997, 19 percent of Rochester workers were in a union, including 12 percent of the private workforce. In 2011, 13 percent of local workers were in a union. Only 3 percent of private sector workers were unionized. The figures come from unionstats.com.

(snip)

The entire Rochester workforce has struggled since the recession hit. Unemployment is above 8 percent. Wages have fallen about 7 percent since 2008, with the average worker bringing home $53 less a week. Weekly wages might be creeping up, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics report they went up .7 percent between July 2011 and July 2012.

Fifteen percent of Monroe County residents live in poverty, according to the census, up four percentage points since 2000. Median household income here neared $50,000 in 2010, but if it had kept pace with inflation, it would be closer to $58,000 or $59,000.

Meantime, the gap between the rich and poor is growing. The majority of newly-created jobs are low wage. Is the decline of labor unions partly to blame and could income inequality revive the labor movement?

Maybe not. Americans are increasingly skeptical of unions’ ability to help them. A poll showed unions have a 52 percent approval rate. Many are resentful of what they see as perks afforded to union workers, especially those who work in the public sector. The Times-Herald Record reports:

Union members who’ve heard complaints like these say the criticism is not only unjustified, but also offensive. They say unions are blamed for problems they didn’t cause.

“This was an economic crisis caused by greed, and people who didn’t cause it are being blamed for it, and that’s not fair,” says Paul Ellis-Graham, president of the 100,000-member Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation and a Monroe-Woodbury High School teacher who’s on the state board of the New York State Union of Teachers.

(snip)

“The issue isn’t that public workers don’t deserve pensions,” Ellis-Graham says, “it’s that everyone deserves a decent wage, a decent retirement, decent access to health care.”

As for why unions are losing ground, Gannett reports:

“The resistance to private sector unionization is much sharper and has been for several decades,” said Lee Adler, faculty member at Cornell University’s Industrial Labor Relations School. “Part is based on employers’ imagined need to increase their profitability and part has to do with a tremendous growth in law firms and consultants that specialize in breaking private unions.”

The third issue, Adler says, is the enforcement mechanisms of National Labor Relations Board are “inadequate to address the illegal violations directed at the private sector.”

“If it turns out the employer doesn’t follow the National Labor Relations Act, it might take a year to reach that conclusion,” Adler said. “With no expedited resolution of critical issues when employers violate the law, workers then worry if they try to organize they will get fired.”

Many labor leaders talk about the “social contract” companies used to have with workers to pay them a living wage. The Kodak of decades past is remembered as a company that took care of its workers for life. Those days are over.

Should they be?

 

There are more jobs available in Rochester for people with college degrees than unemployed workers who meet the requirement, according to a report from the Brookings Institution. People with only high school degrees will have less luck.

The report, called Education, Job Openings and Unemployment in Metropolitan America, highlights the gap between worker skills and jobs.

Here is an excerpt from Rochester’s profile:

How many job openings could the average unemployed worker apply for in 2011?

  • All education levels: 2.1 job openings
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 4.1
  • Associate’s degree or some college: 2.7
  • High school diploma or less: 2.5

Occupations with the most job openings January/February, 2012

  • Computer Occupations 2,456
  • Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners 1,704
  • Information and Record Clerks 886
  • Engineers 844
  • Retail Sales Workers 810
  • Supervisors of Sales Workers 756
  • Motor Vehicle Operators 735
  • Other Management Occupations 694
  • Sales Representatives, Services 633
  • Metal Workers and Plastic Workers 570

The area ranks 6th in the country on the education gap index, the years of education required for a job opening divided by the average educational attainment of workers. Rochester is always touting its highly skilled workforce and it appears we are doing better than other parts of the country.

One of the study’s conclusion is “Metro areas with higher education gaps have experienced lower rates of job creation and job openings over the past two years.” That is a warning.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly thought the 6th ranking met “6th worst in country” in skills gap. It is the 6th best.

Links of the Day:

- This is terribly sad. A historic structure at High Falls has to be partially demolished to shore up the gorge wall.

- Sheldon Silver admits he was wrong to give a secret settlement to settle sex harassment claims against a powerful assemblyman.

- The New York State Fair attendance is way down. I don’t think it can blame the weather, which has been beautiful.

- A closed Buffalo hospital will become a veterinary school.

Agriculture is big business in New York State, according to a state comptroller’s report. The state has 36,300 farms that produced $4.7 billion of products in 2010.

The Finger Lakes alone accounts for nearly one-third of the state’s total farm sales:

The Finger Lakes region (Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties) accounted for nearly 30 percent of the State’s total farm sales. Wyoming County was the State’s largest producer of milk and corn silage (i.e., animal feed), and Wayne County was first in apple production. The region is also known for its 95 wineries, which are a major tourist attraction.

Milk accounts for nearly half of the state’s agriculture sales. New York is the number one producer in the nation of sour cream and cottage cheese. The state is second in the production of wine, maple syrup and cabbage. Apples are the number one fruit crop in the state.

Bon apetit!

Links of the Day:

- Political ads are a “bonanza” for local TV stations in Rochester.

- This looks all kind of bad. The assembly quietly settled a sexual harassment complaint against a powerful downstate assemblyman earlier this year. Since then, two more staffers have accused him of unwanted contact.

- More supermarkets are hiring dietitians. Wegmans has the “grande dame.”

- Residents of a Maryland town are divided over a proposed Wegmans.

- Chicago’s suburban gun shops are a main source of crime weapons in the city.

- Cool map of Rochester neighborhoods.

It was the first ever Yogurt Summit in the state that produces 70 percent of the nation’s Greek yogurt. Two hours in, the conference ran out of spoons. Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times has a delightful recap of the Albany event:

Mr. Cuomo praised the yogurt industry’s growth as “staggering” and “unbelievable”: 29 yogurt plants, up from 14 in 2000; 1.2 billion pounds of milk used annually; 8,070 people employed. Chobani, for example, which started in 2005 with 5 employees, now has 1,200 in New York State.

The State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, said he hoped New York would become “the yogurt capital of the United States, if not the world.”

(snip)

Mr. Cuomo’s joy was unfettered. He described his vision for the yogurt industry as a “cluster economy” that would provide a “synergistic environment” for all types of yogurt-related businesses.

We’re talking about yogurt, not biotech!

But this being New York, farmers are calling on the state to ease some regulations. The yogurt industry here may be booming, but there are very real concerns about supplying enough milk to make the product. The Syracuse Post-Standard reports:

To supply those plants with New York milk, the state Farm Bureau estimates, New York farmers will need to produce 15 percent more milk. Farmers and dairy industry leaders say that will be a challenge.

(snip)

New York has about 610,000 dairy cows.

Individual farmers, however, are reluctant to expand when milk prices are low, a drought in the Midwest has sent corn prices soaring, and a dry summer in New York has slashed hay production.

Some farmers are skeptical of increasing production to meet the growing demand of yogurt.

“The yogurt boom? We haven’t felt any effect from it in our milk checks,” said Will Soden, who milks about 100 cows near Morrisville in Madison County. “I don’t think were benefiting from it.”

Cuomo announced a proposal to increase the number of cows farms are allowed before having to enroll in a program to regulate the animals’ feeding and waste. Environmentalists are not happy.

Best tweets from the Yogurt Summit:

Links of the Day:

- I’m very sad the fate of the Hojack Swing Bridge appears sealed. I was hoping the DEC would hold a public hearing before allowing the demolition to proceed. It’s been there as long as we’ve been alive. While it needs some work, I think it’s beautiful.

- Streetcars are on the rise in U.S. cities, but they don’t seem to make much financial sense.

-The disappearing suburb, in one graphic.

- London’s mayor wrote a column in 2006 that makes him my new hero. He’s a politician who actually admits we’re too obsessed with pedophiles.

- Atheism is on the rise in the U.S. or more people are admitting to it.

- The “Pahk your cah in Hahvah yahd” New England accent is disappearing.

Trulia.com

 

Syracuse and Buffalo are ranked among the top 10 large metros in the U.S. for bars per capita. Trulia did the math using U.S. Census data.

The top drinking towns in the U.S. tended to be more affordable rust belt cities, including Pittsburgh and Toledo.

Since Trulia only published a map and not the full rankings, I crunched the numbers using the Census Business Patterns database and Trulia’s methodology.

Here’s where Upstate New York’s cities rank on bars per 10,000 households:

  • Elmira: 8.2
  • Binghamton: 7.1
  • Syracuse: 7.0
  • Buffalo: 6.8
  • Ithaca: 5.4
  • Albany: 4.3
  • Rochester: 4.2

How did Rochester end up dead last?

The presence of a lot of college students doesn’t have an impact when you consider Rochester and Ithaca are robust college towns. One explanation could be Rochester, Albany and Ithaca have better economies and are less blue-collar.

Trulia.com

 

Here is a look at restaurants per 10,000 households:

  • Ithaca: 28.0
  • Albany: 21.6
  • Binghamton: 21.2
  • Syracuse: 19.7
  • Elmira: 19.7
  • Buffalo: 19.2
  • Rochester: 18.7

On this list, the smaller cities with big colleges did very well. Albany has the added bonus of having hungry, deal-making lawmakers.

Trulia found cities with more restaurants per capita have higher real estate prices:

Many people are willing to pay more to live near restaurants. But, more importantly, high-income people have more money to spend on eating out, so the high-cost places where high-income people tend to live can support more restaurants.

That’s certainly true in some Rochester neighborhoods, such as Park Avenue and South Wedge.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

 

CEO for Cities ranked the country’s 51 largest metro areas on connections, innovation, talent and distinctiveness. The exhaustive rankings feature a number of subcategories, including restaurants, weirdness and Google searches.

First, the good news. Here’s where Rochester ranks well:

Culture/HDTV Ratio: This is the ratio of people that “reported attending a cultural event in the past year to the number of households with high definition televisions.” The data, from 2007, ranks Rochester #3. In other words, we like to get out more than our counterparts in other cities.

Restaurant Variety: Looking at the ratio of ethnic restaurants to fast food restaurants, excluding Chinese, Italian and Mexican, Rochester ranks #19. For every fast food restaurant, we have .5 ethnic restaurants. Not bad!

Internet Search Variety: This is defined as the “variance of Google web-search patterns from national patterns for the most popular search terms.”  Rochester ranks #4.  Buffalo is #8.

Patents: Rochester is ranked #5, with 22.1 patents per 10,000 workers.

Volunteering: We scored well this category, as 29.6 percent of people reported community involvement. Rochester is ranked #15.

Voting: 62.2 percent of people voted in 2008 election, putting us in the middle of the pack at #25.

Economic Integration: Rochester ranked #7, with 77.6 percent of people living in middle income neighborhoods. However, other studies put us at the bottom in terms of integration.

Transit Use: Ten percent of non-poor workers use public transit, ranking Rochester #20.

Walkability: The city itself is ranked #16.

Number of Foreign Students at Universities: Rochester is ranked #9, with 28.3 foreign students per 1,000 residents. Buffalo is ranked #1.

College Attainment: Rochester ranks #18, with 33 percent of people over 25 having been awarded a four-year degree.

Creative Professionals: With 4 percent of workers having “wide discretion in their jobs to use accumulated knowledge to develop, design and deliver new products and services,” Rochester ranks #17.

Traded Sector Talent: This is the percentage of workers with college degrees who work outside health, education & government. Rochester ranks #22 with 29.8 percent of workers in this category.

Vehicle Travel: We don’t spend as much time in our cars, traveling an average of 21.9 miles a day, putting us at #39.

Greenhouse Gases: We emit 1.91 tons carbon emissions per person, putting us at #43.

Now, the bad news. Here’s where Rochester scored not-so-great.

Internet Connectivity – Rochester only has 16.6 hotspots per 1,000 people, putting us at #36.

Venture Capital – This is a shame, considering our patent prowess. We rank #39, with only $15 of investment per 1,000 residents announced in the past year. Buffalo ranks #41.

Entrepreneurship – Only 8.9 percent of workers are self-employed, putting us at #38. Buffalo ranked dead last.

Small Business – There are 19 small firms with fewer than 20 employees per 1,000 residents. Rochester ranks #41.

Travel Outside the U.S. – Rochester ranks #36 on the percentage of people – 13.9 – who reported traveling outside the country in the past few years.

Young & the Restless: - This is the “percentage of the metropolitan population that is 25 to 34 years old and has completed at least a four-year college degree.” Rochester ranks #31, with 4.4 percent of the population fitting the bill.

International Talent – Rochester is #37 in the percent of workers – 8.9 – with a college degree who were born outside US.

Weirdness Index – This looked at “data on 74 different behaviors and activities from sports and fitness to hobbies and interests, appliance ownership and various aspects of home life.” We’re tied with Buffalo at #27 and #28 on the list.

Rochester didn’t do well when the study looked at our urban core. This is important because “metropolitan areas are not formless blobs.” Rochester ranked low on per capita income, poverty and educational attainment of people who live in the city.

Links of the Day:

- If the preparations for the opening of Trader Joe’s in Albany are any indication, I’m going to stay far away from Pittsford Plaza when it’s our turn.

- Odd Open House: Mt. Hope Cemetery is inviting you to learn all about its crematory.

- I think this Buckyballs CEO has a point. Should his business be forced to pay because children are swallowing his product, which is clearly labeled “adults only.” It’s also…not a food.

- Five guys took the same photo of themselves for 30 years.

- City Newspaper’s Best of Rochester primary ballot is out. I’d be honored if you consider by blog, Twitter feed and reporting. Thank you!

 

City of Rochester Communications Burear

A new report from Brookings Institution found manufacturing is slowly gaining in Rochester after years of decline.

We care about manufacturing jobs because they are higher wage and a big part of the economy. In Rochester, manufacturing specialties include information technology, chemical products and machinery.

Quick Facts:

– Rochester has 59,738 manufacturing jobs, ranking it 34th in the country.

– Of all the jobs in Rochester, 12 percent are manufacturing jobs, ranking the area 11th in the country.

– Rochester lost an astounding 42 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 1980.

– In the last year, Rochester saw a gain of 1.8 percent in manufacturing jobs, below the national average of 2.7 percent.

– One-third of Rochester manufacturing jobs are “moderately high tech,” ranking the area 5th in the country.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Links of the Day:

- A Community Report Card produced by the Rochester Area Community Foundation and United Way is a fascinating read. First reported in the Democrat and Chronicle, the report paints a picture both hopeful and deeply disturbing.

The report spotlighted our region’s cultural attractions, affordable housing and high tech jobs. But it also showed deep divides among white and black residents, and city and suburban residents in the areas of infant mortality, child poverty and education.

The study shows a decline in median income, charitable giving and tourism revenue.

There are no surprises, but it is an opportunity for reflection on our community.

- Federal funds have been fueling Delphi’s fuel cell research. Those funds are in jeopardy.

- Only 9 percent of new cars sold are manual transmission. I am a stick shift die-hard.

- The Rochester Subway blog, in its fight to save 13 Cataract, is pointing out eyesores can be saved. Today’s installment looks at Station 55.

Another Greek yogurt plant is coming to Upstate New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a deal with a German dairy company to build a $206 million plant in Batavia. The New York Times reports:

New York already is home to 29 yogurt plants, which altogether employ more than 2,000 people, according to the governor’s office. The plants produced 530 million pounds of yogurt last year, a 43 percent increase over the year before.

Other New York Greek yogurt plants include Chobani, Fage and Alpina. The boom has been a godsend for dairy farmers, as Greek yogurt needs three times more milk than traditional yogurt.

The yogurt craze has also benefited farmers who grow crops for cows and milk-processing plants. In Syracuse, a company that makes stainless steel tanks is also seeing a giant bump in business thanks to yogurt.

The Rochester area’s agribusiness has grown to a point some wonder if we should now be called the Flour City instead of the Flower City.