Report: New York’s Ballooning Economic Development Programs

The state’s economic development programs have expanded over the last four years in both scope and cost, a report from the Citizens Budget Commission released on Thursday found.

The report found that since 2010, investments in job creation have grown from $7 billion in 2010 to an estimated $8.1 billion, a 15 percent rise.

The study is the latest to question the worth of the state’s investment through tax credits, grants and other inducements to businesses to help grow jobs. A report from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released this week raised concerns that the Empire State Development Corp.’s job creation prowess was relatively meager compared to the amount of state funds spent.

“It is clear New York State’s economic development programs are growing in number and cost,” said CBC President Carol Kellermann. “What is unclear is whether the investments are worthwhile.”

To ensure the money on job creation is being well spent, the commission urged the state to better coordinate regional economic strategies, develop standardized performance measurements for economic development programs and put in place more stringent disclosure requirements for the programs.

Report Nysecondev 02192015 by Nick Reisman

Binghamton, Utica Areas Lead Upstate Unemployment

The Binghamton and Utica-Rome areas have the highest unemployment among upstate metropolitan areas, Department of Labor statistics released on Tuesday show.

Both areas in November had an unemployment rate of 6 percent, higher than the 5.9 percent unemployment rate statewide.

The news for Binghamton comes after proposed casino projects based in the Southern Tier did not receive a gaming license (A project in Seneca County, in the Finger Lakes, received a license). At the same time, the Cuomo administration moved to ban hydrofracking, a natural gas extraction that would have been used in the Southern Tier, where gas deposits are especially rich.

Nevertheless, the unemployment rate in metro areas of the state is higher, 6.2 percent.

In the state’s North Country, Essex County has an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, while Frankily County reported a 7 percent unemployment rate.

Statewide, the highest unemployment rate is in the Bronx, where 9.5 percent are unemployed.

In New York City, the unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, lower than the upstate and suburban average of 5.6 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment are also upstate: Tompkins County has a 3.8 percent rate, while Putnam County has a 4.3 percent unemployment rate. Columbia, Nassau and Saratoga counties are tied at 4.4 percent unemployment.

Unemployment In NY Ticks Downward

Unemployment in New York fell from 6 percent to 5.9 percent last month, the lowest level since September 2008, the state Department of Labor on Thursday announced.

Still, New York’s unemployment remains slightly higher than the national average, 5.8 percent, which is falling at a faster rate since the formal end of the economic recession.

New York City’s unemployment rate is also remains higher than the rest of the state, but continued to fall: 6.4 percent in October, down to 6.3 percent last month.

The state outside of the five boroughs has an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent.

“In November 2014, the unemployment rates in both New York State and New York City continued their recent downward trend, reaching their lowest levels in more than six years,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics in a statement.

Nevertheless, private-sector jobs in pockets of the upstate region show either flat job growth or job reductions including Glens Falls, Syracuse and Utica-Rome areas.

In the Binghamton area, where the state Wednesday declined to grant a casino application and also announced a ban on hydrofracking, the area report a net increase of 500 jobs in the last 12 months.

NYC Unemployment Outpaces Upstate

Upstate continued to have a slightly lower unemployment rate than the New York City metropolitan region, according to regional employment data released by the state Department of Labor.

In the 52-county region designated as upstate New York, unemployment stands at 5.5 percent.

Downstate, in the New York City region including the northern suburbs and Long Island, unemployment last month was 5.8 percent.

Unemployment in the upstate region overall has fallen in the last 12 months by more than a full percentage point: In October 2013, unemployment stood at 6.6 percent.

The counties with the lowest unemployment are mostly upstate, with Tompkins County (home of Ithaca College and Cornell University) at 3.9 percent.

  • Tompkins County (3.9%)
  • Yates County (4.3%)
  • Saratoga County (4.4%)
  • Columbia County (4.5%)
  • Putnam County (4.5%)
  • Nassau County (4.6%)
  • Albany County (4.8%)
  • Ontario County (4.8%)
  • Rockland County (4.8%)
  • Suffolk County (4.9%)

Unemployment remains highest in the Bronx, where it stands at 9 percent.

Overall, unemployment last fell in New York from 6.2 percent to 6 percent.

Despite the unemployment numbers reflecting some good news for upstate, the area as a whole is not growing as fast economically compared to the rest of the state.

ur_map by Nick Reisman

Upstate Lags Downstate In Job Growth

The New York City region enjoyed 2.2 percent increase in job growth over the last 12 months, while upstate New York grew at a slower rate, statistics from the state Department of Labor found.

Overall, the state’s unemployment rate dipped in the last month from 6.2 percent in September down to 6 percent, the Labor Department said.

Job growth over the last year statewide showed an increase of 110,000 private-sector jobs, a 1.5 percent increase, which slower than the national average of 2.3 percent.

The vast majority of those jobs were created in the downstate region, including the five boroughs and the suburban counties on Long Island and in the northern suburbs of Westchester, Putnam and Rockland.

North of those areas, job growth was virtually flat, increasing by 0.4 percent or 10,500 jobs over the last year.

Rochester, Utica-Rome and Syracuse, reported negative job growth.

NYC, Binghamton Area Continue Unemployment Struggle

The Binghamton metro area and New York City continued to struggle with high unemployment, even as upstate and suburban counties show signs of lower unemployment, according to state Labor Department statistics.

The Binghamton area, in the economic doldrums even before the start of the Great Recession, recorded an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, the highest in the upstate statistical metropolitan areas.

In New York City, unemployment stands at 8 percent. The Bronx, long one of the poorest areas in the nation, has an unemployment rate of 11.2 percent.

Still, upstate counties recorded some of the lowest unemployment in the state:

  • Hamilton County (3.9%)
  • Saratoga County (4.7%)
  • Tompkins County (4.8%)
  • Yates County (4.9%)
  • Columbia County (5.0%)

Statewide, the unemployment rate in July was 6.6 percent, no change from June.

County Rates (1) by Nick Reisman

High Unemployment Continues In North Country, NYC

Upstate counties continue to have some of the lowest unemployment in the state, while others along the Canadian border have the highest, Department of Labor statistics show.

At the same time, unemployment in New York City boroughs Queens and the Bronx also show higher-than-average unemployment.

Taken together, the unemployment rate in upstate counties stands at 5.8 percent, while the 10-county downstate region is higher, 6.8 percent.

The three counties with the lowest unemployment in the state are all north of the New York City area: Saratoga, Yates and Tompkins counties.

But unemployment remains consistently high in the North Country, the counties that are contained within the Adirondack Park.

At the same time, unemployment is highest in the Bronx, with a rate of 10 percent.

ur_map by Nick Reisman

State Unemployment Falls To 6.6 Percent

The state’s unemployment ticked downward from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent last month, according to figures released on Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

The June unemployment rate is the lowest level since November 2008, state officials said.

New York’s private sector added about 25,000 jobs last month, growing at a 0.3 percent increase in June.

“New York State has now had 19 straight months of private sector job growth, including 25,000 new jobs in June 2014. In addition, our state’s jobless rate is now at its lowest level in more than five and a half years,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

As he runs for a second term, expect to see and hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo tout this economic news as his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, paints a less-than-rosy picture of the economy, especially in upstate New York.

Nationally, New York continues to lag behind the rest of the nation, which has an average unemployment rate of 6.1 percent in June.

DFS Proposes Regulations For Virtual Currency

The Department of Financial Services on Thursday released proposed regulations for virtual currencies like Bitcoin that have come under scrutiny in recent months.

Broadly, the proposed regulations are aimed shoring up cyber security and addressing concerns over money laundering with potential requirements for companies using virtual currencies to have safeguards against fraud, including designating security employees.

State officials are also proposing licenses for virtual currency actions such as securing, storing or maintaining currency on behalf consumers and using it for retail conversion services.

A license would be required for buying, selling or issuing virtual currencies as a customer-based business.

Companies using virtual currency would be required to disclose to customers the potential risks associated with its usage, as well as having a set of established guidelines for addressing consumer complaints.

“We have sought to strike an appropriate balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity – without stifling beneficial innovation. Setting up common sense rules of the road is vital to the long-term future of the virtual currency industry, as well as the safety and soundness of customer assets,” DFS Superintendent Ben Lawsky said in a statement.

The proposed regulations, posted both online at the DFS website and on the social news aggregation website Reddit, now enter a 45-day public comment period.

pr1407171-vc by Nick Reisman

Unshackle Upstate: We Agree With DeFran On TZB Funding

The Rochester-based business group Unshackle Upstate can’t help but agree with Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco’s call for more information on the new Tappan Zee Bridge funding plan that includes a $511 million loan approved by the Environmental Facilities Corp.

The loan has to be sign off on by the three-person Public Authorities Control Board, and a single no vote can kill the loan. DeFrancisco, along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Cuomo’s budget director Bob Megna sit on the board.

The concerns have grown over the loan, because the money is coming from a revolving fund that’s been used to pay for clean water and sewer improvement projects for local governments.

On Capital Tonight on Tuesday, DeFrancisco wouldn’t rule voting against the move, barring more information on the replacement bridge’s funding plan.

“I voted ‘no’ a lot of times on various things in the Senate,” DeFrancisco said in the interview. “I have no compunction at all about voting ‘no’ if it’s not the proper use of money or there’s not a full financing plan, because the people should know how they’re paying for this thing, not get a bill sent to them after it’s half built and say, ‘we have no choice.’ So, I’ve gotta make sure this is done right. If I got a vote, I’m gonna use it.”

For business groups like Unshackle, the lack of information on the plan stems from the worry that Thruway tolls overall would be boosted in order to finance the bridge’s construction.

“The lack of any publicly available financing plan governing the construction and cost of the new Tappan Zee Bridge has concerned Unshackle Upstate since the New York State Thruway Authority announced its ill-fated plan to raise Upstate Thruway tolls a “modest” 45 percent in 2012, a plan we vehemently and successfully opposed,” said the group’s executive director, Brian Sampson. “While we understand the economic importance of replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge, we cannot help but agree with Senator DeFrancisco in questioning why a comprehensive financing plan has still not been made available by the Thruway Authority or New York State. Such a plan would give taxpayers a clearer understanding of how New York State intends to pay for this massive multi-billion dollar infrastructure project and its potential financial impact on all motorists across the state.”