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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


DiNapoli: Report Finds Mixed Job Picture in Upstate NY

Five Regions Have Lost Jobs Since Recession’s End Upstate Wage Growth Outpaced U.S. in 2015

August 26, 2016

Upstate New York lags behind downstate New York and the nation in job growth since the Great Recession, according to a report examining upstate employment trends issued today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Since June 2009, total employment in upstate New York rose by 0.3 percent compared to 2.2 percent in the downstate region and 1.9 percent nationwide during the same time frame.

Encouragingly, the overall average annual wage gain in upstate of 3.3 percent outpaced both the downstate and national averages in 2015.

“On the surface, New York’s economy has rebounded from the Great Recession,” DiNapoli said. “But it should come as no surprise that a closer look reveals pockets of the state still have a long way to go to catch up.”

DiNapoli’s report noted total upstate employment reached nearly 3.1 million jobs in mid-2008 and declined over the next 19 months, to a recessionary low point of 2.9 million in February 2010. As of June 2016, upstate had regained 79 percent of a total 128,000 jobs lost during and after the recession.

Currently, total employment across upstate New York stands at slightly over 3 million, representing 32 percent of all jobs statewide.

From the end of the last recession in mid-2009 through June 2016, upstate’s largest overall job growth, 2.2 percent, was in the Capital Region. Somewhat smaller gains occurred in the Finger Lakes and Western New York. Five regions lost jobs over the period, with the most pronounced declines occurring in the Mohawk Valley (down 2.8 percent) and the Southern Tier (a loss of 2.5 percent). The North Country, Upper Hudson Valley and Central New York also experienced overall employment declines. Over the most recent year, however, employment rose in all regions except the Southern Tier.

Among industry sectors, upstate New York’s largest employment growth from 2010 through 2015 was in leisure and hospitality, which added almost 26,000 jobs. Of these, 87 percent, or more than 22,000 jobs, were added in the accommodation and food services industry. Education and health services contributed more than 20,000 jobs. Both professional and business services, and the trade-transportation-utilities sector, grew by more than 10,000 jobs over the period.

The report revealed the largest job losses of any sector during the period were, by far, those in government, with a decline of 5.9 percent, or almost 34,000, positions. Such reductions were widespread across upstate. Western New York, the largest overall labor market in the group, had the most significant decline at more than 6,500 jobs, while the Southern Tier and Capital Region lost more than 5,000 public-sector jobs over the period.

Most upstate regions enjoyed average annual wage growth that outpaced inflation from 2010 through 2015, the report found. Upstate’s overall average wage growth of 12.4 percent exceeded the rate of inflation of 8.7 percent, representing increased purchasing power for many households.

Other notable findings in the report include:

  • Despite declines in recent years, the government sector remains upstate’s largest employer, accounting for 21 percent of all jobs, followed by education and health services;
  • Growth in average wages from 2010 to 2015 was highest in the Finger Lakes region, at 13 percent, followed closely by the Capital Region, Central New York and Western New York; and
  • The Upper Hudson Valley led upstate regions with job growth of 1.2 percent during the year ending in June 2016, followed by Western New York and the Mohawk Valley at 0.5 percent each.

For a copy of the report, Uneven Progress: Upstate Employment Trends Since the Great Recession, visit:

For access to state and local government spending and more than 50,000 state contracts, visit The easy-to-use website was created by DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.