December 14 2020

Essential Manufacturers Helped Capital Region MFG Outperform NYS during Lockdown

The Capital Region’s manufacturing sector weathered the first full three months of the Coronavirus lockdown better than New York’s other economic development regions, owing largely to manufacturers in its essential chemical and computer and electronic product industries, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of New York State Department of Labor data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).

Essential Manufacturers

New York’s lockdown of non-essential businesses began on March 22. Under the “New York on Pause” executive order, manufacturers were deemed “essential” and allowed to continue operating if they produced food or beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, telecommunications, semiconductors, and other essential products. In the Capital Region, these essential manufacturers included, among others, GlobalFountries in Malta, Espey Mfg. & Electronics in Saratoga Springs, Extreme Molding in Watervliet, Blasch Precision Ceramics in Menands, Mohawk Fine Papers in Cohoes, Hollingsworth & Vose in Easton, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in East Greenbush.

Region/Industry Performance

The eight-county Capital Region’s manufacturing sector averaged 31,961 employees during Q2 2020, down 6.2 percent from a year earlier. Other economic development regions in the state saw their manufacturing sectors contract by as little as 8.9 percent in the Finger Lakes to as much as 36.3 percent in New York City.

In the Capital Region, the chemical manufacturing subsector, which includes pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, added 134 jobs over the year, and the computer and electronic product manufacturing subsector, which includes semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing, added 110. The electrical equipment and appliances sector also added 59. Several other Capital Region manufacturing industries experienced marginal employment losses over the year, including primary metal manufacturing (0.0 percent), plastics and rubber products manufacturing (-4.3 percent), food manufacturing (-5.6 percent) and beverage and tobacco product manufacturing (-5.8 percent).

Total Wages

Despite losing 2,111 jobs over the year in Q2, the Capital Region’s manufacturing  sector experienced an 18.3 percent increase in total wages, which amounted to an additional $123.6 million. That was more than the $116.9 million wages decline in the accommodation and food services sector through the loss of 22,753 jobs. Fueling the wage growth were chemical manufacturing, with a $133.1 million increase, computer and electronic product manufacturing at $24.1 million, and electrical equipment and appliances at $5.3 million.

CEG Initiatives

As a federally designated Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center, CEG Business Growth Solutions (BGS) has been supporting the Capital Region’s manufacturing sector through the pandemic with the following activities:

Assisting small to mid-sized manufacturers adapt to changing market conditions.

Serving as the group sponsor for an apprenticeship program for more than 50 GlobalFoundries workers.

Helping Precision Vale & Automation pivot to make emergency ventilators.

Launching the Capital Region Manufacturing Re-Start Program to help manufacturers restart operations and enhance worker safety on shop floors.

Making 500 face shields in collaboration with Benet Laboratories and the Tech Valley Center of Gravity.

Providing manufacturers with updates and guidance on navigating the pandemic environment.

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