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NYS Labor Department


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.

cuomoAfter 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

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23 Responses to Cynical…or Right?

  1. You ARE a cynic, Rachel. So am I. Both Democrats. Both skeptical of the Gameshow Governor’s promises and press conferences. You and I are also right. It is all superficial rhetoric, without a lot of hard evidence to back it up. Rochester is coming back if you’re well off to begin with and can afford lofts downtown and all the cultural amenities. A lot of people, particularly on the west side of the Genesee River, can not. I can not. Likewise if you are on the West Side of Buffalo, white and employed, Buffalo is a great place to live. If you’re on the East Side, not so much. Going a few blocks east of the Parkway is a lot of poverty and crime.

  2. Wait, so 13 of 16 regions in New York showed job growth this year, and your going to say the Governor’s policies aren’t effective because you happen to live in one of the communities that didn’t add jobs? Maybe there are more cynics in Rochester and thats why the Governors policies that are working literally everywhere else don’t work in your city

    • March 27, 2016 at 9:04 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      I didn’t just refer to jobs. If you look at out-migration, all counties but two had more people move out than move in.

    • March 28, 2016 at 8:45 am Michael L responds:

      Slight growth this year still leaves NYS several million jobs LESS
      than in the past decades. The long term job destruction is still
      on course.

  3. It is rather simple actually. Been writing about this for over four years now and the “experts” still will not listen and certainly not respond. It’s education. We have the worst outcome in the state. If you have no skills, you don’t have the opportunity to get a job that pays a living wage, period. When are they, the “experts”, going to get this.

    There is a poverty initiative in Rochester, which received a $500,000.00 grant. The initiative has 120 plus individuals serving the cause. What does each member have as a common denominator,…..education. None of them are without it, for none of them would be in the position they are, socially and financially. Yet there is no mention of the education factor. It is like they don’t want the education “secret” to get out.

  4. VERY eye-opening. Great reporting. Thank you, Rachel.

  5. March 27, 2016 at 8:45 pm tony mttiga responds:

    Please! Are you kidding! Lack of educational achievement is a “secret”? The community has been exposed, even saturated, for years with reporting on poor graduation rates, failure to achieve at grade levels, and poor readiness for those who do graduate to enter college, or the work force. This is one problem that everyone who watches the news, or reads the paper, should know about.


  6. Tony,…It is LIKE it is a secret. It is obviously NOT a secret.

    Please read carefully.

    Until the RCSD changes its academic delivery, the drop out rate will remain.

    If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.

    Doing the same thing, teaching the same way year after year and expecting different results,….that’s the definition of insanity. Yet our district cannot seem to get that, they just keep failing the kids, boring them to drop out, allowing peer pressure to win out over education. And that is what feeds the poverty in this city.

  7. March 28, 2016 at 12:11 am RaChaCha responds:

    Interesting that Rochester’s job loss number nearly matches Buffalo’s job gains number.
    Smugtown once had everything going for it, but somehow business and political leaders let it become a basket case. I wonder if the public policy crowd has been writing case studies on this. If so, it would be interesting to see what they have to say.
    I remember the days when Rochester had the resources to do and dare, but now can’t afford the tissue to blow its own nose. For some time to come, I’m afraid, Rochester is going to have to eat whatever dinner the State puts in front of it, and be happy about it.

    • Let’s not forget that Buffalo was given all that state money years before Rochester was and leaders are just now deciding which projects to undertake with the REDC money we won last summer. How many of those jobs in Buffalo are construction jobs that are going to disappear once Solar City is built? I hope people don’t think that hundreds/thousands of workers on that project are just magically going to find other jobs in that region immediately, because they won’t. Not saying all is bad in Buffalo or anything, just I take these numbers with a grain of salt. If this was a trend for months or years that’s one thing, but this is a single report that many people are skeptical about.

  8. March 28, 2016 at 12:18 am Dr. Zaius responds:

    Smugtown was once a paradise. Your business and political leaders made a desert of it!

  9. Rachel: That was good information. You can make it “gooder” by extending the chart to include the graduation rates as one key component to your research as well as school attendance. That may give you/us a clear understanding of the importance of education and why we are in the dumper.

    Teenage pregnancy, single parent, poverty (child and adult) crime, etc. may add additional insight. Would actually indicate some very valuable information and could help in addressing these problems.

    In my estimation EDUCATION is the key to all of them.


  10. March 28, 2016 at 9:05 am Dave Topa responds:

    My understanding is that the job data is skewed due to a new tabulation method (I heard Tammy Marino say as much on WXXI). We may need to waid a couple more job reports to see if it’s just a statistical anomaly.

    • March 28, 2016 at 8:26 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      Yes I followed up with the state labor dept. and put an addendum to blog post.

      I didn’t only use job data for this analysis and even if these numbers are not as bad, they’re not great. Will definitely keep monitoring.

  11. March 28, 2016 at 11:20 am theodore kumlander responds:

    You were absolutely right our Honorable Governor has been a Corporate Stooge since he announced he was running for the Office. He was a pretty good Attorney General though. If New York has so much money it can give it away to any to start up companies how about lowering our taxs?, how about lowering tuition at SUNY colleges?

    • Hillary or Bernie will take care of that tuition thing. It will actually be “free”. Paid for by the rich, like Hillary and Bernie. Mmm,…something doesn’t add up here. It almost appears that this is buying the presidency. Trump is doing that in the “open”. Welcome to the political world.

  12. March 28, 2016 at 5:46 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    Gambling indeed! Corporate welfare and they give campaign funds.

  13. March 28, 2016 at 8:13 pm Amol Shrikhande responds:

    Here is a slightly less depressing (though not totally rosy) version of the above:

    1. The same article that indicates the workforce is down 40,000 from peak also states that Rochester is down only 9,000 non-farm jobs from its peak in 2000. My guess is that a large chunk of these non-farm jobs are in the public sector, which may not be a bad thing.

    2. Monroe County and the entire metro area still have more people than in 2010. As for the domestic outmigration, grumpy baby boomers down on the region are moving to Florida. They are being replaced by babies and immigrants. They are also being replaced by enthusiastic millennials – Rochester had the fastest millennial growth rate of any large metro from 2009-2014. I’ll take that trade.

    3. Regarding job loss, the Rochester Business Journal indicates that 2015 job growth numbers in Rochester were overestimated by quite a bit. It would therefore follow that the February 2015 – February 2016 job loss numbers are overestimated by quite a bit. In fact, a state labor analyst called the numbers “suspicious.”

    4. As for the suboptimal business tax climate, I agree: New York has zero choice but to figure it out for ALL businesses if it plans to compete with other states. Even if our generous Medicaid system and phenomenal suburban public schools suffer, there really is no other option.

  14. March 28, 2016 at 8:38 pm Orielly responds:

    We all know when the Bills have a bad coach, same for SU football, the Sabers, even Jim Boehiem has had tons of public critism. And local sports writers question / slam these coaches decisions at every turn …their not afraid.
    When did the local media question and slam local CEOs at their bone head decisions? Decisions that have far far more negative effects on this area and its people than the Bills coach.. How long did Mr Perez lead Kodak down the drain, with year after year of failing results? Results that would have had any sales person fired…but Mr. Perez kept his multimillion salary. Did any reporters question the UR Sigelman on the Kodak board, why Perez was not fired? The same is true at Xerox who’s CEO moved thousands of high skilled high paying jobs out of Rochester in a now failed scheme to “right shore” jobs. Now Xerox will attempt to get back into the document printing and copying business with much of their human intellectual resources long ago dismissed. And Bausch and Lomb sell off was a disaster for this area. Where was the local media? A Demonstration of both ignorance and cowardness to confront and slam when needed, the leaders of these former great companies on behalf of the local employees and the general Rochester population who provide the true back up for these companies former employees. Nope, instead we had countless stories about diversity and the racial barriers these CEOs broke. Have we ever seen a local report on how Ms Burns can be on Obama’s council on keeping jobs in the US while she moved 1000s of jobs out of Rochester and the US to India? Nope there are a lot of reasons why this area is in decline and the local media has played a part.

  15. March 30, 2016 at 12:23 pm Tim Altier responds:

    You are absolutely right. Cuomo and the power players in both parties and the business community have created these evonomxi development councils and projects to further their careers and line their wallets. The rich get richer and the rest of us move or cut costs. Thanks for your reporting.

  16. March 30, 2016 at 12:29 pm Some Guy responds:

    Rachel, why won’t you drink Andy’s Kool-Aid? 😉

    The truth hurts, and that’s why the rent-seekers who have everything to lose if the status quo changes (relatively low labor costs, lots of corporate welfare, lots of government-created segregation which artificially lowers crime rates in most municipalities around here) despise your reporting.

    The math has never added up for the obscene proportion of government employment to private-sector employment, and the reality is even worse than those numbers as legions of so-called “non-profits” have gotten on the government gravy train. Bernie Madoff has nothing on the Ponzi scheme known as the State of New York, whose only growth industries are dependent on importing the extremely poor with equally poor educational attainment, while incentivizing the most educated and productive to leave the state in droves, leaving behind an electoral force that cannot be reckoned with by reason. The rapid de-industrialization of this nation over the past 45 years (not coincidentally around the same time the last vestiges of the gold standard were dispensed with) has concentrated wealth not just in fewer hands, but also in significantly less productive (and therefore, less deserving) hands. Even local government has become too big, too insular, and too top-heavy to ever accomplish the legitimate functions the founders intended.

    I used to agree with Josh, that it was just education, but after seeing how much the RCSD spends per pupil for some of the worst results in the developed world at the highest per pupil cost in the developed world, it ain’t education at all. It’s the totally 100% ass-backwards system of values that renders a sizable minority of the population to multi-generational poverty because that totally debauched value system that they hold is protected at all costs. It’s the cancer that everyone denies exists. It is a value system that cannot exist without external subsidy; both financial and social. Government steals money on the financial side, and business and media and many education and religious institutions collude to impose a fascistic political correctness whereby no one of social stature would dare to even say the emperor has no clothes. Young girls are being impregnated by immature males who are closer to middle age yet act like adolescents. The entitlement of a high school diploma to those lacking the skills to have earned one long ago destroyed the value of a high school education, and the same phenomenon is well on its way towards destroying that other farce, the college diploma, long hailed by the “Rump” types as the silver bullet.

    Cuomo uses the Danny Wegmans and Joel Seligmans of the region (who themselves get richer and gain even more undue influence) to redistribute the leftovers of what government stole in the first place to buy off that ever-increasing share of the population in poverty, as the productive middle and upper middle class in particular get the squeeze. Central economic planning has never worked, and it will never be able to undo the damage it created with such unsustainable ratios in the first place.

    The real news story isn’t that Rachel’s right, it’s that she appears to be the only one in media even remotely interested in an economic indicator that most effectively indicates the problem is real, has been for some time, and is only getting worse. And it ultimately leads to asking just how much of one’s labor is the government legitimately entitled to take, and what the predictable consequences will be when it crosses that line. Government has become a Ponzi scheme, and that Madoff moment will come, it always does.

  17. April 6, 2016 at 8:48 pm Mike Virgil responds:

    Just wait and watch the flight from this state overall increase when Cuomo’s $15/hr. brilliant idea kicks in full gear. You ain’t seen nothing yet!

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