Economists from the New York Fed say New York City continues to be an engine of job growth — its outlook steadily trending up since a low point around 2009, right in the middle of the recession.
"That dichotomy between the Upstate and Downstate economic recovery, I think is stark," Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Michael Kracker said.
Upstate New York has not fared as well, producing jobs at a much slower clip. Pockets like Buffalo, Rochester and Albany have seen better results, but manufacturing-based economies in Southern Tier cities have just started to stabilize.
"If you're down in Binghamton or Elmira and you're having a hard time recruiting folks to your community, meanwhile you look over the border in Northern Pennsylvania and those communities are growing and that's mostly because of state decisions," Kracker said.
Despite the contrast in job growth numbers, all parts of the state are seeing exceptionally low unemployment rates. In Upstate, it's because the labor force is shrinking.
"All these factors, the participation rate, the demographics, just overall trends in population come together to drive these changes in the labor force," Fed economist Jaison Abel said.
Kracker said many businesses are struggling not just because of an aging population, but an outmigration of people to more business friendly states.
"I think if you talk to any employer in Buffalo, in Syracuse, in Rochester, they're struggling to find qualified, capable workers. They've got gaps. They've got needs. So it's really trying to match your workforce with the skills that are necessary in your community," he said.
Fed economists said now is the right time to reprioritize workforce development and job training. They said Buffalo and Albany, which to some extent have been able to attract and keep young people, can be used as models.