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The economy of upstate New York showed signs of renewed growth in 1997 and 1998, but its performance is still well behind that of the nation and New York State as a whole, according to Richard Deitz, a regional economist at the New York Feds Buffalo Branch.
Deitz reports that roughly 35,000 new jobs were added in 1997, followed by almost 38,000 the next year. Job growth in 1998 of 1.2 percent was the regions best showing since 1990, while unemployment rates remained low and home sales flourished.
Despite evidence of improvement in the upstate New York economy, Deitz finds that the rate of job growth was still less than half the national rate in 1997 and 1998. Dietz attributes this, in part, to the manufacturing sectors declining importance in the upstate employment mix. While average manufacturing employment increased last year in most of the key cities examined, the industrys share of jobs fell from 30 percent to just 16 percent between 1970 and 1998. In addition, recent gains in nonmanufacturing jobs have not kept pace with the national rate of increase.
Deitz also concludes that the low unemployment rate upstate, a factor usually associated with job growth, is the result of a declining population and labor force. Labor shortages have helped to limit the potential for growth in the region, Deitz finds.
Similarly, the dramatic increases in home sales, according to Deitz, do not indicate an influx of people into the region, but rather an increase in sales to people who already live upstate, such as renters.
Upstate encompasses fifty-two counties in New York State. It does not include New York City; Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties; and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.