Sunday, June 19, 2005

Can we trade OUR legislature for THEIR legislature?

For those who don't live in Buffalo, or anywhere near Buffalo, or who think of large quadrupeds rather than the Great Lakes' greatest city when the word "buffalo" is mentioned, our county government is in the midst of, well, complete collapse because of unimaginably inept fiscal management coupled with a state government that seems to think that places in New York State whose distance from New York City is measured in triple digits don't exist or something. And in addition to that, the Buffalo-Niagara Region is losing jobs and, therefore, population and economic clout at a really depressing rate.

With all of the shenanigans going on with the Erie County government, the recent travails of downstate's Nassau County (on Long Island), which went through a lot of what we're going through now and seems to be coming out of it OK, are getting lots of press. (See today's Buffalo News front page, for instance.) But we never seem to hear about what appears to be a stream of unspectacular but consistently good news coming from a county closer to home. I'm talking about Onondaga County, whose largest city is Syracuse. Check out this report from the other day:

The Syracuse area's job market continued to improve in May, with good news coming even from the long-slumping manufacturing sector.

The unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in May, down from 5.3 percent in the same month last year, the state Department of Labor said Thursday. The area's rate was below the state's rate 4.8 percent and the national unemployment rate 4.9 percent.

There were 3,200 more jobs in the area last month than there were in May 2004, the department said. The Syracuse area consists of Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties.

Private-sector employment gained 3,500 jobs a 1.3 percent increase.

"That's a pretty strong growth rate for Syracuse," said Karen Knapik-Scalzo, an economist with the Labor Department.

Government lost 300 jobs.

Manufacturing lost 100 jobs, but such a small loss was peanuts compared to declines of well over 1,000 most of last year. The last time the area gained manufacturing jobs was September 1999, when it had 600 more factory jobs than it did in September 1998.

They've added more than 3000 jobs in a year, which is really good news of course, but the staggering thing to see about an Upstate New York economy is that government lost more jobs than manufacturing did. That just amazes me. Buffalo's own job-creation engine isn't quite doing so well, so maybe we could take a bit of time off from learning from Nassau County and see just what Syracuse is doing right.

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