DiNapoli: Positive Signs Temper Challenges in Buffalo-Area Economy
Professional and Business Services, Education and Research Drive Transformation
Emerging segments of Buffalo’s economy ― such as professional and business services, education, research and health services ― have helped the 1.1 million-resident region post increases in wages and real estate prices, according to an economic snapshot Thomas P. DiNapoli released today.
“Even in the face of the national economic downturn, there are some positive signs in Buffalo,” DiNapoli said. “Wages are up and the weak dollar has helped tourism and trade. There are still some very real challenges, but Buffalo is resilient. Despite the contraction in manufacturing, it’s encouraging to see growth in professional and business services, and in health care and research. There’s a strong future out there if the state helps provide Buffalo with the tools to grab it.”
In addition to employment growth in certain sectors, such as credit card collection agencies, a series of economic development initiatives are helping to revitalize communities in and around the city. A 469,000 square foot regional headquarters recently opened for BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, and the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, which will feature 90,000 square foot gaming center, a hotel, a spa and restaurants, is expected to create 1,000 jobs after opening in 2010. The commercial redevelopment of the Memorial Auditorium is expected to provide an 800,000 square foot retail, restaurant and entertainment space, including a 200,000 square foot Bass Pro Outdoor World store, according to the snapshot.
DiNapoli’s economic snapshot also found:
- Wages have increased annually since 2001, including a 4.7 percent increase in 2006, which propelled the average salary to nearly $37,000;
- Unemployment in the metropolitan region declined last year to 4.8 percent, which is only slightly higher than the 4.5 percent statewide average. The City of Buffalo’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent last year, and has risen to 6.6 percent this year. The region’s unemployment rate has climbed to 6 percent;
- Between 2000 and 2007, median home values increased at an average annual rate of 4 percent in Erie County and 3.5 percent in Niagara County, reaching $113,000 and $98,000, respectively;
The region’s population declined by 3.5 percent between 2000 and 2007, dipping to 1.1 million; and,
- The trade, transportation and utilities sector is the region’s largest employer, providing 103,600 jobs, which is about 19 percent of the total. Other major employers include government and educational and health services, which provide 94,400 jobs and 85,300 jobs, respectively.
Click here for a copy of the snapshot.