August 8 2017
Economic Analysis,General

Capital Region Kept Pace with Peer Metros in 2016

The Capital Region’s economic performance in 2016 was on par with its peer metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) nationwide and bested all other comparable metros in upstate.

Among 14 MSAs with similar populations and economies, the Capital Region ranked in the middle of them (8th) when their 2016 economic performance was scored by the Center for Economic Growth (CEG). Compared to its peers in several general economic indicators, the eight-county region’s performance was strongest in a measure of its unemployment rate and weakest in the change in the size of its labor force.

Comparable Metros

In 2015, McKinsey & Company identified in Capital 20.20 nine metro areas that, as of 2009, were comparable to the Capital Region, based on their gross metropolitan product (GMP) and employment characteristics. This year CEG, expanded the peer group to include six other MSAs, based on their population; GMP; state capital status; number of higher education intuitions; R&D space; and employment for all industries plus the following sectors: manufacturing, information, transportation and warehousing, scientific R&D services and health care and social assistance. One MSA identified by McKinsey, the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford MSA, was removed from the peer group due to the unavailability of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for several key indicators, resulting in a total of 14 comparable metros, four of which contain state capitals.

Peer Group Performance

CEG scored the 15 geographic areas, including the Capital Region, based on their 2016 performance in 10 mostly year-over-year (Y/Y) general economic metrics. Sources for the data include the U.S. Census Bureau, BLS, New York Department of Labor and Emsi. The metrics on which the areas were scored included:

  • Population (Y/Y)
  • GMP (Y/Y)
  • Unemployment Rate (Y/Y)
  • Unemployment Rate (level)
  • Unemployed (Y/Y)
  • Labor Force (Y/Y)
  • Private Establishments (Y/Y)
  • Private Sector Employment (Y/Y)
  • Private Sector Total Annual Wages (Y/Y)
  • Private Sector Average Annual Wages (Y/Y)

Each area’s total performance score was based on the sum of its ranking for each metric. The lower the total performance score was, the stronger the area’s performance was in relation to its peers in 2016. Total performance scores ranged from 32 for the Raleigh MSA to 116 for the Oklahoma City MSA. At 88, the Capital Region had the eighth-lowest total performance score. The Omaha-Council Bluffs and Tucson MSAs most resembled the Capital Region’s performance in 2016.

Capital Region Performance

Within the peer group, the Capital Region performed best in the level of its unemployment rate (5th) and the year-over-year growth of its private sector total and average annual wages (both 6th). It performed worst in the year-over-year change of its labor force and of its unemployment rate (both 12th) and in the year-over-year change in its population and private sector establishments (both 11th).

The findings suggest that some of the Capital Region’s challenges to keep pace with its peer metros reside in its ability to attract and retain more residents and workers, and to better engage those currently in the labor force but not employed.

Next Steps

CEG continues to work with its partners in business, government, academia and the not-for-profit community to address these challenges. Actions CEG is taking to counter the above-noted economic performance weaknesses include:

  • Increase the region’s labor force: CEG’s Talent Connect program is expanding its skilled employee attraction and retention services to include the active recruitment of outside talent to the Capital Region. Talent Connect staff will be attending job fairs at Fort Drum (Aug. 30 and Nov. 2), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sept. 29) and the Harford Career Expo (Oct. 5) with the goal of connecting veterans leaving the military, students graduating in science and engineering fields and other skilled workers with Capital Region employers.
  • Create more businesses: As part of the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership, CEG’s Business Growth Solutions unit helps startups launch and grow. BGS’s entrepreneur support services include improving startup access to labs, office space, and other facilities; venture pitch coaching; identifying mentorship and investor prospects; and more.
  • Attract more businesses: Over the past year, CEG has stepped up its business attraction efforts by representing the Capital Region at a greater number of industry trade shows across the country.
  • Connect unemployed and underemployed workers with training and career opportunities: After completing in June the Pathways Project for Advanced Manufacturing study for the Capital Region’s Workforce Development Boards, CEG is exploring ways to create an online training tool that ensures workers have the region-specific, entry-level skills needed for a career in manufacturing.

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