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October 15, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Bridget Gibbons: Regional employment report shows Westchester may benefit from NYC jobs creation

The fact that we’re all interconnected is not an original thought, but one that makes more sense as the world becomes a smaller place.

The same is true for ways that we look at boosting our local economies, creating jobs and more viable communities for the future. Westchester County recently entered a partnership with New York City, which is looking at how we are all interdependent in the regional economy.

Representatives from the New York City Department of Planning met with Westchester County’s Office of Economic Development to share data from “The Geography of Jobs,” a report that looks at employment, labor force and housing development trends and the changing geography of growth in the New York metropolitan area since 2008.

The report showed that the region grew its labor force by 1.5 million workers since 2008, representing an increase of 15 percent — slightly below the national average gain of 16 percent. New York City accounted for half of the region’s growth in resident labor force (plus-742,450), representing an increase of 21 percent, while other counties in the region had an average increase of 11 percent.

New York City has benefited the most from the post-2008 economic boom, but Westchester has also gained some jobs, particularly in the education, health care (plus-7,507) and retail and hospitality industries (plus- 9,843). The workforce ebbs and flows between New York City and its suburbs in a cyclical fashion. Right now the cycle shows jobs and the workers needed to support them are headed into New York City.

This does provide some good news for the Hudson Valley and Connecticut as the additional labor force in New York City will need to find places to live since new housing there is not keeping pace with the influx of workers, who will be looking to Westchester and Connecticut for housing.

According to the report, both Westchester and Connecticut would be able to accommodate these needs as shown by the ratio of new housing units to new jobs created. In the Hudson Valley there were 84,000 new housing units created compared to only 71,000 new jobs. In Connecticut the difference was more pronounced with 66,000 units of new housing and a loss of 16,000 jobs. The report notes, however, that this could put a strain on the region’s transportation system.

“While this symbiotic relationship has value in enabling the region to continue to meet both housing and employment needs, higher-than-anticipated levels of trans-Hudson commutation are taxing the region’s transportation systems. The future balance of housing {and} jobs growth will have significant implications for prospective investments in regional transportation infrastructure,’’ the report stated.

What the report made clear is that Westchester needs to do more to capitalize on the influx of younger workers (ages 25 to 54). New York City gained 400,000 younger workers, a rate three times higher than the national average. Housing is a key piece to this puzzle. And data show that Westchester’s cities, particularly those areas with access to mass transit, have been successful, showing that the county’s focus on transit-oriented development is a winning strategy.

Bridget Gibbons is the director of economic development for Westchester County. She can be reached at Bgibbons@westchestergov.com.