January 25 2017

Capital Region Vehicle Registrations Shift into High Gear

The Capital Region’s economic engine continues to run strong, with the number of standard (passenger) vehicles registered in 2015 growing at the second fastest annual rate among of the state’s 10 regions, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of recently released New York State Department of Motor Vehicles data.


Vehicle registrations are an economic indicator for consumers’ willingness and ability to spend. In 2015, there were 741,681 standard vehicle registrations in the eight-county Capital Region, up 1.8 percent from the previous year. That was more than double the region’s registration growth rates for 2014 (0.8 percent) and 2013 (0.7 percent). Out of the state’s 10 economic regions in 2015, only New York City had a higher growth rate of 2.3 percent. The Capital Region’s growth was driven by Albany County, which saw standard vehicle registrations increase over the year by 3.9 percent – the second highest rate among New York’s 62 counties, trailing the Bronx. These in-force registration counts exclude vehicles with suspended, revoked and surrendered plates.

The Capital Region’s 13,228 increase in standard vehicle registrations was especially impressive in that employment region-wide only grew by 7,679 jobs. In 2015, driver’s licenses were up by only 3,914, but the region’s driver’s license total over the last five years has increased by 25,014.

Farm Vehicles

While representing only a fraction of its total number of registered vehicles, farm vehicle registrations in the Capital Region also experienced robust growth in 2015. Over the year, the number of Capital Region farm vehicle registrations grew by 88, or 8.8 percent – the highest increase in volume throughout the state’s 10 regions. More than three quarters of that growth, or 68 registrations, were in Columbia County.


Regional Integration

The increase in standard vehicle registrations appears to be doing more than just boosting sales at auto dealerships – it may also be strengthening one of the Capital Region’s greatest assets: its regional integration. In 2015, 37 percent of Capital Region residents 16 years of age and older worked in a county different than the one in which they lived, up from 36.7 in 2011, according to a CEG analysis of U.S. Census Bureau five-year estimates. At 33.9 percent in 2015, Saratoga County had the highest concentration of residents who work in other counties.

Indicative of this enhanced regional integration is the 3 percent increase in passenger traffic along the New York State Thruway’s Capital Region exits (I-90 Exits 21-26) during the first 11 months of 2016, compared to the same period of the previous year, according to a CEG analysis of New York State Thruway Authority data. As noted in Capital 20.20, investments in regional assets, such as GLOBALFOUNDRIES, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and other educational institutions has driven growth throughout the Capital Region’s eight counties.


For more information, contact CEG Director of Research and Communications James Schlett at jamess@ceg.org. Don’t miss these insights into the trends that are shaping the Capital Region’s economy. Sign up for CEG’s e-news.

Funding Partners