By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)
From some time, we have heard from economists and scholars that the manufacturing sector of New Yorkâ€™s economy is dying. However a recent study published by the newly created Manufacturing Research Institute reveals that the prognosis is inaccurate and that manufacturing is on the upswing. The study further reveals just how important manufacturing is to New York.
Statistics show that New Yorkâ€™s economy relies heavily on the manufacturing sector. In fact, New York ranks sixth in overall manufacturing employment in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
Here were a few key points the study makes:
1. The most important measure for assessing manufacturingâ€™s contribution in the 21st Century is the paychecks that workers bring home and spend, largely in their local communities. By this measure, manufacturing remains a foundation of the Empire Stateâ€™s economy, especially in the regions north and west of Albany. Including spin-off jobs, manufacturing supports one in three payroll dollars in much of Upstate New York.
2. The number of manufacturing jobs statewide, once more than 2 million, fell to fewer than 500,000 in 2009. However, New York has kept on par with the U.S. economic activity and from 2003 to 2008, manufacturing grew by 20 percent.
3. Based on employment alone, Upstate ranks ahead of 28 states in manufacturing activity. In the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes, industrial employment directly provides close to $1 in every $4 of private-sector payrolls. Western New York and Central New York also have relatively high proportions of manufacturing income.
4. Computers and electronics represent the largest manufacturing subsector in the state with more than 64,000 jobs, $5.4 billion in total payroll, and average salary of $84,292. Other key subsectors include fabricated metals, food, machinery and chemicals.
5. Manufacturing plants tend to be small and medium-sized businesses; as of 2009, the average employment in 18,888 manufacturing establishments was 25 jobs.
Manufacturing is clearly most important throughout Upstate New York, including the North Country and Central New York. Upstateâ€™s total manufacturing employment of just under 300,000 would rank the region ahead of 28 states. The combination of overall employment and high wages makes manufacturing an especially important element of the regional economy, as these types of jobs account for 17% of private wages in Central and Northern New York. In Onondaga County, manufacturing as percentage of private wages in 2009 was 16%; in Oswego County it was 18.7 percent. These jobs help give life to other jobs, as one estimate holds that every two manufacturing jobs pay for one additional job in other sectors of the economy such as transportation or retail.
Our state needs to make it more affordable for manufacturers. The study shows the importance of these types of jobs to our overall economy. Our state would do well to implement policies that would cut the cost of energy for small businesses and lower property taxes to create a better environment for our manufacturers. This study reveals how New York is off to a good start but it is clear that improvements need to be made to help lower the costs of doing business here.
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