New Report on Employment in the Hudson Valley Shows Growing Income Disparity

Julia Fishman

December 3, 2018—A new report from the Marist Bureau of Economic Research shows that despite a growth in employment and wages, income disparity is still on the rise in the Hudson Valley.

The study, “Special Report: Employment in the Hudson Valley 2017,” shows that wage and salary income inequality is highly significant, with three of the region’s counties—Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam—ranking in the top 10 of the most unequal counties statewide. The report was compiled using data from the New York State Department of Labor Employment 2017 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).

“This is a major issue of concern,” noted Christy Huebner Caridi, Director of the Bureau and Assistant Professor of Economics at Marist. “What our analysis shows is that the increase in jobs is not closing the wealth gap in our region.” Region-wide, private-sector wage growth was 2.9 percent with wage growth in below-average wage sectors outpacing wage growth in above-average sectors 3.8 percent to 3.4 percent. “These findings clearly show the need for higher-paying jobs.”

On the growth front, Rockland County led the way for highest year-over-year private-sector employment growth at 2.6 percent. Dutchess County followed at 2.0 percent. Employment grew 1.8 percent in Orange, 1.6 percent in Putnam, 1.0 percent in Ulster, and 0.9 percent in Westchester. Healthcare, social services, and retail remained the largest private sector employers at 36.1 percent of total private sector employment. “Social services and retail are typically lower-wage employment sectors,” said Caridi.

Earlier this fall, Marist announced a partnership with Health Quest to create a medical school in Poughkeepsie. The school would create approximately 100 full-time positions plus—many of them in professional job categories—and numerous part-time opportunities; it is slated to open in 2022. Caridi said more developments like this are needed for the region to narrow the income gap. “The medical school will provide a platform for wage growth within the health care sector and related fields.”  Other key findings include:

  • As of 2017, 68 percent of all private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley were in below-average wage industries compared to 65 percent in 2008. In contrast, the share of total private sector wages paid to persons holding below-average wage jobs advanced from 44 percent of total private sector wages in 2008 to 48 percent of total private sector wages in 2017. This trend is consistent with statewide outcomes.
  • In a report previously released by the Bureau of Economic Research, an analysis of personal income tax return data released by the IRS supports the above findings. As of 2015 (most current data) households with AGI of $75,000 and above reported 79.09 percent of all wage and salary income region-wide, compared to 20.91 percent for the below-$75,000 category. As of 2015, for every one dollar of wage and salary income earned by households in the under-$75,000 category, households in the $75,000-and-above category earned $6.30. This trend is evident across the region, with Westchester reporting the greatest inequality between categories.
  • Within the region, Rockland and Westchester Counties had the largest percentage of below-average wage jobs at 70 percent and 65 percent of all private sector jobs, respectively. In contrast, the share of total private sector wages paid to persons holding below-average wage jobs was 51 percent of total wages in Rockland County and 42 percent in Westchester County.
  • Across the balance of the region, below-average wage jobs as a percent of all private sector jobs ranged from a low of 44 percent of all private-sector jobs in Putnam County to 52 percent of all private-sector jobs in Dutchess County.
  • Putnam, Orange and Ulster counties all reported more than 50 percent above-average wage jobs.
  • The most significant change in the distribution of wages by sector occurred in Dutchess County with the level of below average wage jobs falling from 66 percent in 2008 to 52 percent 2017. The shift is attributable to the rate of growth of average wages in the health care and social services sector compared to overall private sector wage growth. 

A full copy of the report is available here.

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