October 13 2017

Capital Region Leads New York in Labor Force Participation

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is leading the state in getting the greatest share of working-aged adults into its labor force, but their participation in it has fallen to its lowest level in seven years, according to a Center for Economic Growth analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.


In 2015, 80 percent of the metro area’s 535,053 adults between 20 and 64 years were participating in the labor force. That was the highest rate of New York’s 12 MSAs and the 71st highest among 381 MSAs nationwide. The Glens Falls MSA’s labor force participation rate for this demographic was 76.8 percent – the fifth highest in the state. The labor participation rate is the percentage of people who are employed or actively seeking employment out of all of the people of the same demographic in that area.

Out of the five counties of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA, Saratoga County’s 2015 labor force participation rate was 81.8 percent and Rensselaer County’s was 81.1 percent – the first and fourth highest in the state. Albany County ranked ninth in the state at 79.5 percent and Schenectady County ranked 15th at 78.7 percent. Schoharie County had the metro area’s lowest rate of 74.3 percent.

Highly Educated Workers

Despite the declining trends in overall labor force participation, the rate for adults with a bachelor degrees or higher (25 to 64 years) has actually been increasing. In fact, at 88 percent, that rate was the highest it has been in at least seven years and it was the 48th highest among MSAs nationwide. Out of those adults with a bachelor degree or higher who were participating in the labor force, 85.2 percent of them were employed.

Declining Participation

While Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA’s labor force participation rate is the highest in the state, the metro area has seen higher. Its 2015 rate fell to its lowest level since 2009. The metro area’s rate peaked in 2012 at 80.8 percent. The 2015 participation rates for both men and women fell to 83.3 percent and 76.6 percent, respectively – below their five-year averages. However, the participation rate for women with a child under six years has been steadily increasing, from 70.5 percent in 2009 to 76.7 percent in 2015.

Among adults 16 years and older in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA, Hispanics and Latinos and blacks and African Americans are increasingly participating in the labor force. The former’s participation rate has climbed from 66.7 percent in 2009 to 68.5 percent in 2015. During the same period, the latter’s rate rose from 62.9 percent to 65.2 percent. Meanwhile, whites’ participation rate fell half a percentage point to 65.8 percent. Asian labor force participation experienced the steepest fall – four percentage points to 61.6 percent.

Improving Labor Force Participation

To improve the region’s labor force participation rate, CEG is doing the following:

  • Helping Capital Region manufacturers, through CEG’s Business Growth Solutions (BGS), become more efficient and tap into new markets so they can grow their workforces.
  • Working with Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) to establish a multi-level training program to help adults enter into and advance their careers within the region’s manufacturing sector.
  • Organizing events such as Girls in STEM to stoke middle and high school students’ interest in careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
  • Going outside the region – to places such as Fort Drum, MIT and Hartford – to recruit talent to work for companies within the eight counties.
  • Using our Talent Connect program to leverage our industry connections and help the spouses of talent who were recruited to the area by employers find employment.


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