Slow but Steady for the Region's Economy, Marist Economic Research Report Shows

POUGHKEEPSIE (Oct. 1, 2013) – The latest report from the Marist Bureau of Economic Research shows little change in either labor force participation or employment for the second quarter of 2013, compared to the same period last year. However, because employment advanced while the labor force contracted, the unemployment rate fell 1.01 percentage points relative to the same period last year. Overall, labor force participation contracted 0.41 percent (-4,567) from 1,127,333 participants in the second quarter of 2012 to 1,122,767 in the second quarter of the current year while employment posted a slight increase, advancing 0.68 percent (7,133) from 1,042,167 to 1,049,300. As of the second quarter, the unemployment rate was 6.54 percent compared to 7.55 percent one year earlier.

The full report, along with previous reports, can be found on the bureau's website at http://www.marist.edu/management/bureau/.

Employment and Labor Force Participation

Regionwide, employment and labor force participation peaked in July of 2008—seven months after the start of the Great Recession—at 1,128,600 and 1,189,600, respectively. Employment reached a post-recession low in February of 2012 at 1,024,400 while the labor force bottomed out a year later (March of 2013) at 1,109,100. From peak to trough, employment contracted 9.23 percent (104,200) and labor force participation fell 6.77 percent (80,500). As of August 2013, the region has recaptured 45.71 percent (36,800) of the labor force lost to the recession and 44.53 percent (46,400) of the employment. Overall, employment and labor force growth remain weak and whereas month-to-month improvements are evident, sustained employment and labor force growth remain a significant regional as well as statewide challenge.

Regional Job Count

The regional job count is beginning to recover, with improvements in the private sector compensating for the continuing contraction in the public sector. Year over year, the region added 6,000 jobs; the job count in the private sector increased (9,333) from 742,600 to 751,633 while employment in the public sector fell (-3,000) from 162, 733 to 159,700. As of the second quarter 2013, one out of every 5.71 jobs in the Hudson Valley was in the public sector compared to one out of every 5.56 one year earlier.

Year over year, trade, transportation and utilities added the most jobs at 4,133 followed by leisure and hospitality (2,867), education and health (2,600), professional and business services (1,867) and other services (967). The job count continued to decline in the information sector (-1,467), manufacturing (-800) and natural resources, mining and construction and financial activities at -567 each. Within the Hudson Valley, the total job count advanced (2,900) in the Rockland-Westchester-Putnam, NY, MSA, (2,433) in the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY, MSA (Dutchess and Orange counties), and (833) in the Kingston, NY, MSA (Ulster County). The total job count in Sullivan County fell (-167).

Since the inter-recession peak­­, private sector job growth has been sporadic and uneven. On the one hand, the job count in education and health services has shown consistent growth—up 13,267, from 177,333 jobs in the second quarter of 2008 to 190,600 as of the second quarter of 2013. On the other hand, the job count in both the manufacturing sector and the information sector continues to contract: relative to the peak, witnessed in the second quarter of 2008, the job count in the manufacturing and information sectors is down 9,733 (17.25 percent) and 4,066 (18.80 percent), respectively. In contrast, leisure and hospitality, other services, professional and business services and trade, transportation and utilities have created more jobs since the trough (47,967) than were lost to the recession (34,667). Collectively these four sectors accounted for 58.56 percent of all jobs lost as a result of the recession and as of the second quarter, 88.17 percent of all jobs recovered. Job growth in the remaining sectors­—natural, resources, mining and construction and financial activities—remains below its inter-recession peak.

Food Stamp and Other Assistance

Since the onset of the Great Recession in December of 2007, the number of food stamp recipients in the Hudson Valley has witnessed significant growth (3.33 percent per quarter), rising from one out of every 21.6 persons at the start of the recession to one out of every 9.7 persons in the current period. Over the period, monthly per-person benefits also increased, rising 33.89 percent while regional food costs rose 17.24 percent. Statewide, the number of food stamp recipients has grown 2.71 percent per quarter, rising from one out of every 10.5 persons to one out of every 6.2 persons in the current quarter. Monthly per-person benefits increased 27.73 percent. 

Year over year, food stamp dependency advanced 5.58 percent (12,538) from 224,854 in the second quarter of 2012 to 237,392 in the current quarter. Over the period, food stamp expenditures advanced 5.23 percent ($1.65 million per month) while the average monthly benefit remained relatively constant at $140.00 per person per month. As was the case in previous quarters, Sullivan County was the most dependent on food stamp benefits at one out of every 5.6 persons, followed by Rockland, Orange and Ulster counties at one out of every 6.9 per persons, one out of every 7.9 per persons and one out of every 8.4 persons, respectively. In New York State, one out of every 6.2 persons received food stamp benefits in the second quarter of 2013.

Year over year, the number of Temporary Assistance (TA) recipients posted a slight decrease (0.43 percent) while TA expenditures advanced 5.92 percent.  Sullivan County continues to be the most dependent on monthly TA benefits at one out of every 36.0 persons, followed by Ulster and Orange counties at one out of every 44.2 persons and one out of every 52.6 persons, respectively. Regionwide, one out of every 69 residents received TA benefits.

Regional Housing Market

Housing prices have begun to recover, with every county in the region reporting second-quarter median selling prices above their post-recession lows (trough).Westchester County posted the highest relative increase at 28.59 percent ($144,500) above the trough followed by Ulster County at 26.77 percent ($46,250) above the trough and Putnam County at 11.35 percent ($31,500) above the trough. In all cases, the median selling price remains well below the peak evaluations witnessed during the housing boom.

Finally, the demand for both single- and multifamily construction permits improved, posting a year-over-year increase of 30.49 percent and 45.8 percent, respectively. Total construction costs advanced $90.73 million from $158.06 million in the first six months of 2012 to $248.79 million in the first six months of the current year. 

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