economy

State Unemployment Dips Below National Average

New York’s unemployment fell below the national average in October to 4.8 percent, according to statistics released on Thursday by the Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate in New York in September was 5.1 percent.

The state’s 4.8 percent rate recorded in October is the lowest level it has been since November 2007. It’s also rare for the state unemployment rate to fall below the national average of 5 percent.

Overall, New York added 30,300 to its private-sector job count, a 0.4 percent increase.

The New York City unemployment rate fell from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent last month. In the state outside of the city, the improvement was more modest, decreasing from 5 percent to 3.9 percent.

And despite the seemingly good news, swaths of upstate New York continue to struggle. The Department of Labor found five metro areas in the state — Watertown, Dutchess and Putnam counties, Ithaca, Binghamton and Elmira — lost private sector jobs in the last 12 months.

Entergy Files to Close FitzPatrick

FitzPatrick 1Entergy has filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County, Entergy Spokesperson Tammy Holden said Wednesday.

Holden says the filing is merely procedural. They’re required to file a letter with the NRC within 30 days of their decision to close the plant.  The plant will shut its doors in late 2016 or early 2017 after the end of the current fuel cycle.

Holden says Entergy has tried “to reach a constructive and mutually beneficial agreement to avoid a shutdown” with state officials over the past two months, but talks did not merit results. “Discussions have concluded,” Holden said.

More than 600 people will lose their jobs at the plant when it closes over the next year. The decision is a major economic blow to the area, which collects a generous amount of income tax from the large payroll at FitzPatrick.

Governor Cuomo and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer both said they would work with Entergy to keep the plant open, but this latest development indicates that effort was not enough. A spokesperson for Entergy said earlier this month that regardless of help from the state, the plant was no longer economically viable in the region.

The plant has been operating in the Scriba area for four decades this year.

Would Ride Sharing Impact Taxi Jobs?

rideshareOpponents of expanding ride-sharing to the entire state have pointed to the potential job losses in the taxi and livery sector.

But an analysis from the Board of Labor Statistics shows a different picture in states where ride-share app Uber has its largest presence: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona.

In all of those states, occupational employment data show the employment in taxi and livery jobs has increased over the last three years.

For California, Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona, jobs in that sector ticked upward by more than 1,000. In Illinois, the numbers are smaller: 150.

Still, nationally jobs in the tax and limo sector have jumped by 11,000 when Uber launched its uberX feature in 2012.

Here’s a chart:

ridesharestates

Uber, along with Lyft, are making a push to the statewide market in New York this legislative session. Currently, the apps are allowed in New York City, but their growth has been restrained by a debate over creating a regulatory structure statewide.

Sens. Jim Seward and Joe Robach announced on Wednesday they plan to hold a rountable discussion on Thursday on regulating ride-sharring in the state. More >

NY Unemployment In September Ticks Downward

The state unemployment rate in September decreased slightly from 5.2 percent to 5.1 percent as the private-sector job count grew by 11,400, according to the state Department of Labor.

New York City’s unemployment rate, which is typically higher than the rest of the state, fell at faster rate last month, ticking downward from 5.4 percent to 5.2 percent.

“New York State’s economy added 11,400 private sector jobs in September 2015, keeping pace with the nation as a whole. Moreover, the state’s unemployment rate continued its recent downward trend, dropping to 5.1%, its lowest level since April 2008,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

New York’s job numbers are in line with a national trend of a decreasing unemployment rate. Unemployment nationally match New York in September at 5.1 percent.

NY Unemployment Falls To 5.2 Percent

The unemployment rate statewide ticked downward once again from 5.4 percent to 5.2 percent in August, though it remains slightly higher than the national average, according to the state Department of Labor.

The rate is the lowest level of unemployment the state has seen since May 2008. In New York City, the unemployment rate fell from 5.7 percent to 5.4 percent, the lowest level since June 2008.

Still, the state’s private-sector job count declined between July and August by 16,000.

“New York State’s labor market has remained resilient, adding 163,000 private sector jobs over the past year. In addition, New York’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in August 2015, reaching its lowest level in more than seven years,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

Nationally, unemployment stands at 5.1 percent.

June Unemployment Drops To 5.5 Percent

The state’s unemployment rate last month dropped to 5.5 percent, but still trails the national average of 5.3 percent, according to the state Department of Labor.

New York’s unemployment in May was recorded at 5.7 percent, and with the drop is now at its lowest rate since July 2008, the summer before a major plummet in the stock market ushered in a financial crisis.

The state’s private-sector job count grew by 24,200 to 7.8 million jobs, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor.

In the last two months, New York has added 67,800 private-sector job, the biggest two-month gain in more than a decade.

“New York State’s labor market continues to exhibit strength. Over the past two months, the State has added 67,800 private sector jobs, including a gain of 24,200 jobs in June 2015. In addition, New York’s unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points in June to reach its lowest level in seven years,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

State Unemployment Rate Flat In April

The state’s unemployment rate was unchanged last month from 5.7 percent, according to new data released Thursday by the Department Labor.

New York added 18,300 private-sector jobs last month, a 0.2 percent increase.

“New York State’s economy has remained resilient, adding more than 125,000 private sector jobs over the past year. In addition, the state’s unemployment rate remained at its lowest level since August 2008,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

New York City’s unemployment, meanwhile, dipped from 6.6 percent to 6.5 percent. Unemployment outside of the city stands at 5.1 percent, the DOL said.

Nationally, the unemployment rate on average is lower, 5.4 percent in April.

Over the last year, the state has gained 126,200 private-sector jobs since April 2014, a 1.7 percent increase.

Calls to Reform 421-a Grow As Deadline Looms

With less than a month until New York City’s decades-old tax abatement program is set to expire, a coalition of groups looking to reform 421-a has grown 2.5 million people bigger.

Up4NYC, an group advocating for changes to the program, announced this morning that they now have the backing of the NYC Central Labor Council, the Building and Construction Trades Council, and the New York State AFL-CIO.

This comes as many groups push for either an extension of the current 421-a program, or a complete revamp to the tax relief program.

“It is simply unacceptable to continue putting the interests of wealthy developers ahead of working families,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, in a statement. “The economic impact of the public dollars used could be much more significant if we demand policy changes to the 421a program. The focus should be on requiring middle class wages for working families and expanding access to affordable housing.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan earlier this month to improve the program. Under his plan, 25-30 percent of a project’s units would be dedicated to lower-income residents in exchange for tax breaks. His plan also pushes a “mansion tax” on sales of homes costing more than $1.7 Million.

Up4NYC is calling for a similar plan with an added provision. For construction workers involved in 421-a projects, they’d like to see a prevailing wage. That’s a move that some say could limit new projects under the 421-a program due in part to larger expenses.

The coalition also wants more units dedicted to affordable housing, but does not place a specific number.

The group has released two ads in the last month, pushing for reform to the program rather than a complete revamp. Others want the program done away with, saying money saved from ending the tax breaks could go to help low-income residents.

Here’s their latest ad from last week:

Strange Bedfellows Unite Against START-UP

A coalition of liberal and conservative organizations on Wednesday called for the state to shutter the START-UP NY economic development program.

The groups include the left-leaning Working Families Party and the state Conservative Party as well as the Fiscal Policy Institute, National Federation of Independent Businesses/NY, Reinvent Albany and Citizen Action of New York.

(The state Republican Committee, though not part of the coalition, has repeatedly raised issues with START-UP as well).

For now, the coalition wants the state to stop adding new businesses to program while the state comptroller’s office audits the program.

START-UP NY, conceived by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and approved the Legislature in 2013, provides economic zones for businesses that create jobs to operate tax free for a number of years.

The program has come under scrutiny for the heavy amount of advertising the state Empire State Development Corp. has spent promoting and the relatively paltry number of jobs created as a result.

The Cuomo administration points to 2,100 jobs that will ultimately be generated by the program and also notes the first companies qualifying for the program only began setting up shop last fall.

“Fifty-three million dollars for 76 jobs? That’s not economic development; that’s lunacy. It’s time to end the handouts and do what we know works: invest in rebuilding our infrastructure, hiring more teachers and nurses, and building the green economy. That’s an economic development plan that puts working families first,” said Bill Lipton, Executive Director of the Working Families Party.

Business groups, too, aren’t necessarily in love with the program either, preferring broad-based tax reform over targeted tax breaks for specific businesses.

“The START-UP New York program is a perfect example of Albany’s propensity to throw sizable amounts of money in hopes of an economic solution,” said Mike Durant, NFIB/NY State Director. “The initial reports show limited job creation amid major taxpayer cost. Albany should refocus their economic development investments and broadly reduce the sizable tax burden on small employers to create jobs and for New Yorkers that need it most.”

ALEC: NY Last In Economic Competitiveness (Updated)

The American Legislative Exchange Council has ranked New York 50th in economic competitiveness, according to a report the right-leaning think-tank released on Wednesday.

The group, commonly known as ALEC, ranked Utah at the top of its list i its “Rich States, Poor States” report.

New York, despite a series of economic development programs, tax code changes and other business incentives pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in recent years, ranked last, the report found.

Vermont was ranked 49th, behind Minnesota at 48th.

ALEC has drawn the ire and attention of liberals, most notably over authoring the so-called “stand your ground” legislation that was at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida (a position the group says it no longer pushes and instead focuses on fiscal issues).

“The big story this year is the bipartisan embrace of state tax cuts,” said Jonathan Williams, Vice President of the American Legislative Exchange Council Center for State Fiscal Reform and co-author of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. “States are increasingly realizing the need to become more competitive through fiscal responsibility and free market economic reforms. We anticipate 2015 will be a record year for pro-growth tax reform.”

To perform its ranking, the group used 15 different variables weighted equally, including tax rates, regulations and labor policies.

States that have lower tax rates and right-to-work laws generally fared better in the rankings.

New York’s results in nationwide business, economic and tax climate rankings have often shown the state to be at the bottom of the list.

The Tax Foundation last year, however, praised the passage of the 2014-15 state budget for its various tax actions, including reducing complexity and reducing the corporate net income tax rate.

Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi weighs in with a defense of the administration’s economic record.

“The facts are clear: As a result of this administration’s work, New York has the lowest middle class taxes since 1953, the lowest business tax rate since 1968, and the lowest manufacturer tax rate since 1917 — changes that have helped fuel this state’s recovery, resulting in a record number of private sector jobs, the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008, and upgrades from all three major credit rating agencies.”

RSPS_8th_Edition.pdf by Nick Reisman