• The Rochesterian in Your Inbox:

    Join 643 other subscribers




Rank Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse in terms of where you think is the best place for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) workers.

Does Syracuse top ANYONE’S list?

No way.

But WalletHub put Syracuse way of ahead of Buffalo and Rochester on its “Best and Worst Metro Areas for STEM Workers list.”

Syracuse ranked 36th, Buffalo 58th and Rochester 78th.

How does Rochester, home to Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester, as well as a host of technology-related companies, fall short?

WalletHub used 11 factors to determine its ranking. The company did not break down each metro area’s score on each factor. That means we can’t tell from the published report why Syracuse came out on top. The only insight we have is that Syracuse was on a list for having the best STEM high schools, which was one of the factors.

Other factors:

– Job openings per capita for STEM graduates. WalletHub doesn’t state how it measured job openings. According to Brookings, Buffalo and Syracuse had .005 STEM job openings per capita in the first quarter of 2013. Rochester had .004. (I took the Brookings job opening data and divided by each metro’s population.)

Percentage of all workers in STEM occupations: On this measurement, Brookings found Rochester comes out on top, at 20.9 percent, ranking Rochester 30th in the country. Syracuse comes in at 18.7 percent, ranking the metro 72nd in the country. Buffalo comes in at 18.5 percent, with a 73rd ranking. Rochester also blows away Syracuse and Buffalo in the number of patents per thousand workers, ranking 6th in the country.

– Projected number of STEM jobs needed in 2018: WalletHub notes that this data was only available at the state level, so it wouldn’t have an impact on any comparison among New York cities.

– STEM employment growth: I don’t have this data to compare cities.

– Unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees or higher: According to 2012 census data, Syracuse’s unemployment rate for college-educated workforce was 3.1 percent. Buffalo’s was 3.9 and Rochester’s 4.6. This factor doesn’t break down how educated STEM workers are faring. Brookings indicates there’s demand for STEM workers in all three cities, as jobs take longer to fill.

– Annual median wage for STEM workers: Brookings reports the wages for STEM workers in Rochester are $65,720. Wages are $65,131 in Syracuse and $64,231 in Buffalo. Brookings also reports the average market value for advertised STEM jobs in Rochester is $56,499, 60th in the country. In Buffalo, the average advertised wage is $55,582, 75th in the country, and in Syracuse, it’s is $54,391, 88th in the country.

– Annual media wage growth for STEM workers: I don’t have data to compare cities.

– Housing affordability: WalletHub used median rents. By using cost of renting and not cost of buying a house, Rochester comes out badly.

WalletHub used its own rankings for best cities for recreation and families. Rochester and Syracuse weren’t ranked on the recreation study. Buffalo and Rochester ranked poorly on the families study, in which Syracuse was not ranked.

In summary, it’s important for the media go through the methodology of these made-up lists and not publish them as gospel. There’s no question Upstate cities can do a better job attracting STEM jobs, but the above data shows WalletHub didn’t capture the whole picture.


Links of the Day:


– New York is still keeping film tax credits, which have dubious economic benefits, a mystery.

– The majority of United States public school students live in poverty.

– We are enduring “a hysterical moment in American society. We believe children are in danger every single second they are unsupervised.

– New York is starting a program that could get broadband providers to do big upgrades.

– The former Sibley store in downtown Syracuse will become a theater arts center.

Showers in the workplace?

3 Responses to WalletHub Way Off

  1. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m suffering from “Best Place For …” fatigue. It feels as though we’re being hit over the head with three or four of these things per week.

    As you illustrate above, the methodology can leave something to be desired, yet a lot of “credible” media embraces this fodder with far too little scrutiny. I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with feeding the online beast. Print and TV will throw just about anything onto the website to keep it looking fresh throughout the day/

  2. Does anyone pay attention to those rankings? It’s like the stuff you see on the magazines as you’re waiting in the check-out line – – attention grabbers with no substance. Right up there with 10 sexiest Men/Women.

  3. I am not sure if there were flaws with Wallet Hub’s methodolgy or not, but as anyone in a tech field that has tried to find work in Rochester can testify, Rochester’s job market has been brutal for years. While there are some small tech firms bubbling up, we are still reeling from the decline of Kodak and Xerox. The competition for ech job opening is fierce, as the supply (the number of tech workers looking for jobs) far exceeds the demand (number of openings). In short… Rochester has a lot of tech workers, but few jobs for them.

    Each year, the UR and RIT crank out armies of graduates, and most simply cannot find a job in Rochester. Many displaced workers have either moved out of Rochester or have changed to non-technical fields. Salaries in Rochester are far below salaries for the same jobs in healthier cities.

    If Wallet Hub did do their job correctly, then it is quite possible that Rochester’s negatives on unemployment, employment growth and wage growth far outstripped our positives in other categories.

    Let’s not fight the Wallet Hub ranking… let’s use it as leverage to stress that we need more job growth in Rochester.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *