Partner Voices Blog: Greg Biryla, Executive Director Unshackle Upstate

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli recently released a report on state labor force trends. The good news is that the state’s workforce is at its highest level since before the Great Recession.  The bad news is that most of the state’s employment growth has occurred in New York City and Long Island.

The report finds that from 2011 to 2016, total number of employed workers has declined in the Southern Tier, the North Country, the Mohawk Valley, Central New York and Western New York. It also finds that New York State has fared worse than most other places around the country. The state’s labor force grew 0.7% from 2011 through 2016, compared with a national increase of 3.6%.

The Comptroller’s conclusion: “Clearly, further work is necessary to ensure good job opportunities for all New Yorkers who seek them.”

That’s an understatement. New York has taken great strides in the last few years in terms of improving the state’s economic development efforts, coordinating state and local economic development funding and efforts.

But there is much more that the state must do to enable Upstate businesses to be competitive in the global economy, which will enable them to grow and thrive.

We are working on our 2018 legislative agenda – which will urge lawmakers to control state spending, avoid imposing unfunded mandates on local governments (and provide relief from existing ones) while also reducing the tax burden and providing relief from burdensome mandates and regulations on businesses.

The Comptroller’s report is yet another wake-up call. Upstate New York’s current path leads to economic stagnation and population decline.  We have to find – and follow – a better path to make Upstate a place where families can afford to live and businesses can succeed and provide good opportunities.