Governor Andrew Cuomo has touted his administration's efforts for local economies in upstate New York — arguing both jobs and businesses are returning.
"All the arrows are pointed up. It is undeniable progress. You see it, you feel it. All the numbers are pointed up," Cuomo said.
But Cuomo's claim is only part of the story. A report released by the Rockefeller Institute found the main challenge for rural areas is growing its population base. Business Council Vice President Ken Pokalsky says the challenge is long-standing for upstate New York.
"It's hard to say which is the cause and which is the effect, but we know both of these factors — the lower number of jobs and a smaller workforce — has been affecting upstate for the better part of 30 years," Pokalsky said.
Rural communities in upstate New York have seen population loss over the decades and with it, a lack of job growth. Younger people move away for other opportunities, also in cities. Pokalsky says this is a trend nationwide.
"I think you're seeing rural America having these challenges but it's not just young people leaving. We think it's tied to the lack of new growth industries and the lack of economic opportunity in upstate New York," Pokalsky said.
Pokalsky says it's up to state lawmakers to find solutions.
"If the state focused more effectively on having a welcoming economic development climate, we could stem the loss of workers, including young workers," Pokalsky said.
And as rural communities have struggled, New York City over the last decade has grown in population and expanded its economy.