Private sector employment in the Rochester metropolitan area increased over the year by 2,900, or 0.7 percent, to 431,900 in March 2014. Employment gains were concentrated in education and health services (+2,900), leisure and hospitality (+1,900) and financial activities (+500). Losses were reported in construction (-1,400), trade, transportation, and utilities (-500), information (-500) and manufacturing (-400). Government employment (-700) declined over the year.
“The year ending March 2012 marks the region’s strongest over-the-year job growth since the late 1990s.”
For the first time since the “Great Recession” hit New York State, the private sector job count in the Finger Lakes region (Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties) is above pre-recession levels. For the year ending March 2012, private sector jobs grew by 12,000, or 2.6%, to 468,200. It is the region’s strongest over-the-year job growth since the late 1990s.
The region’s economic recovery has been broad-based, with many sectors adding jobs. The professional and business services sector has been the local standout, adding 6,600 jobs since March 2011. The sector’s job count is at an all-time high -- 69,600. Other sectors adding at least 700 jobs over the year include:
• Trade, transportation and utilities (+3,800)
• Financial activities (+1,800)
• Leisure and hospitality (+1,000)
• Manufacturing (+900)
• Construction (+700)
The region’s unemployment rate also points to an improving regional economy. The region’s rate stood at 8.1% in March 2012. This was lower than rates posted in the state (8.7%) and nation (8.4%). While the rate in the Finger Lakes is up slightly from one year ago, it is much lower than the 9.2% rates recorded in early 2010.
The region’s factory sector received some really good news – it added jobs for the first time in 13 years as many manufacturers expanded or moved into the area. Many expansions involved large financial investments. For example, Alpina Foods recently broke ground in Batavia (Genesee County) on its first specialty yogurt plant in this country. The company’s $15 million investment will create 50 jobs.
Muller Quaker Dairy -- a joint venture between PepsiCo and German dairy company Theo Muller -- also hopes to take advantage of the Greek yogurt craze, which now accounts for a quarter of the total U.S. yogurt market. The partners will invest more than $200 million in a new yogurt plant (also in Batavia). They plan to open in summer 2013 and employ 186.
Genesee Brewing recently hired 70 to staff a packaging line for frozen mixed drinks. Optimation Technology recently purchased the assets of a New Hampshire firm. It will move the equipment and operations to Rochester, creating 100 jobs over the next two years. All this investment in new facilities and equipment should boost construction and engineering employment.
Travel and tourism in the region will get a boost. Darien Lake -- the state’s largest theme and water park resort – spent more than $5 million on new attractions and park upgrades. The peak job count at the park tops more than 2,000. Also, the nation’s third Biggest Loser Resort just opened in Wyoming County with 200 jobs.
In another sign of the area’s economic vitality, the region’s exports are growing once again. The Brookings Institute found the Rochester metro area ranked 33rd in the nation’s top 100 exporting regions. Total exports grew from $6.7 billion in 2008 to $8.1 billion in 2010.
Despite the improving regional economy, Eastman Kodak -- the area’s largest employer for nearly a century -- filed for bankruptcy protection in early 2012. The company was short on cash and unable to sell hundreds of its digital patents valued at nearly $3 billion. In recent years, the company has downsized by:
• Laying off thousands of workers
• Razing buildings
• Selling off numerous product lines
Kodak’s reduction in local workforce has been dramatic. The job count plummeted from a peak of more than 60,000 in the early 1980s to about 5,100 today. That number is expected to drop even further.
While only a shadow of its former self, Kodak continues to make significant contributions to the regional economy. According to the local business press, the company has a $650 million annual payroll and spends $500 million on goods and services in Monroe County alone. Despite its shrinking local employment numbers, many of the jobs lost at Kodak remain in Rochester, but with other companies. For example, last year Canadian investment firm Onex Corporation purchased Kodak's health-imaging unit and renamed it Carestream Health.
Although Eastman Kodak continues to wind down local operations, the Finger Lakes regional economy has demonstrated a remarkable resilience. The local economy has strengthened throughout the year as a growing number of businesses made significant investments in the region. These investments have helped businesses grow and create more jobs. Thus, the economic outlook for the region continues to improve.
For More Information Please Contact:Tammy Marino
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