New York State Comptroller DiNapoli today released an economic profile of the Mid-Hudson region. The region’s proximity to New York City and quality transportation systems continue to drive economic activity, but the high costs of housing and doing business could impede future growth.
“The economy of the Mid-Hudson region is strong and is being boosted by the post-recession economic growth in New York City,” DiNapoli said. “Unemployment rates have dropped and local industry is growing, particularly service-based companies. Going forward, the region needs to carefully manage its ongoing need for services and infrastructure improvements given the already high cost of living.”
The seven counties immediately north of New York City (Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan) make up the Mid-Hudson region. Much of the region is suburban, with greater development near the Hudson River. The area includes Yonkers, one of the state’s largest cities, as well as other urban centers, rural villages, farmland and forests.
Just over 2.3 million people called the Mid-Hudson region home in 2015, concentrated in Westchester County (976,000 - 42 percent), with just under 75,000 living in rural Sullivan County. The region’s population grew 5.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, greatly outpacing statewide growth of 2.1 percent. Growth slowed to 1.7 percent from 2010 to 2015, lower than the state’s 2 percent increase over those years. A significant number of residents commute to New York City for work.
Much of the Mid-Hudson Valley has higher-than-average incomes and property wealth, and also has a relatively high cost of living. For example, Westchester County‘s median home values are nearly twice those statewide, and the median household income is more than 40 percent higher.
The report notes that nearly 39 percent of homeowners spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, above the statewide average of 32.8 percent. Rentals across the region are even less affordable, because renters’ incomes are typically lower. Taxes per household in the Mid-Hudson region are also fairly high. Property taxes paid are among the highest in the state and electricity costs more than in areas north of the region.
Sales tax rates in most counties of the Mid- Hudson region include a Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD) surcharge. This additional 0.375 percent helps to support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Certain employers and self-employed individuals in those counties are also subject to an additional payroll-based MCTD income tax surcharge for the same purpose. In addition, residents of Yonkers pay the only local income tax in the state outside of New York City.
Mid-Hudson businesses and governments employed 882,253 people as of 2014. The largest private employers in 2014 included a mix of hospitals and other health care providers, big box and major grocery retailers and higher education institutions including Marist College, Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Home Depot and ShopRite. Government, including schools, is also a major employer.
Mid-Hudson employers paid an average annual wage of $56,647, higher than any region in the state other than New York City.
State and local efforts to spur economic development have centered largely on bolstering existing strong industries, like health care and retail distribution centers, and trying to encourage new niche industries, such as biotechnology and tourism/entertainment. These are intended to take advantage of the region’s generally well-established infrastructure and institutions, extensive road systems and educated workforce.
The state’s and region’s single largest infrastructure project is the $3.98 billion New New York Bridge, replacing the aging Tappan Zee Bridge. Aside from that project, however, a recent survey of local officials indicates that they have more general local transportation concerns, chiefly the maintenance of local roads and bridges.
Water infrastructure has also become a major issue in the region, particularly in Rockland and Orange counties, as population continues to grow and strain local water sources.
DiNapoli’s report also notes:
- There are 25 local governments in the Mid-Hudson Valley that are currently identified as being in one of three levels of fiscal stress by his office’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. In the region, four counties, two cities, five towns, five villages and nine school districts are encountering stress according to the latest scores.
- The percentage of the population over 65 has been growing in all counties, as has the Hispanic and Latino population, while the percentage that is white non-Hispanic has been declining.
- Foreclosures, which spiked in the last recession, are still a problem. In 2015, the rate of foreclosures in the Mid-Hudson region was 1.5 percent, higher than any region other than Long Island (2.7 percent), and had increased by 18 percent since 2014.
- Region wide, annual unemployment rates have dropped from 7.6 percent in 2012 to 4.7 percent in 2015. Preliminary data show that unemployment was down to 3.8 percent, by May 2016.
Read the Special Report: Mid-Hudson Region Economic Profile, or go to: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/economicprofile/midhudsonregion.pdf