NEW YORK - A number of high-tech manufacturing sectors are emerging in parts of upstate New York despite the impact of the recession, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The report highlights positive aspects of a sector that has otherwise seen major declines in jobs over the past several decades.
“Upstate New York has lost traditional manufacturing jobs,” DiNapoli said. “It’s not very likely we’ll get those jobs back. But several regions around the state are moving away from smokestacks toward more high-tech, high-skill manufacturing. It’s a good direction.
“New York has a highly skilled, highly trained workforce and great university system. The potential is here. We just have to tap into it. If we get this right, the positives are unlimited.”
From 2000 to 2008, upstate lost nearly 105,000 manufacturing jobs, with employment declining in virtually all types of manufacturing sectors. However, during that same period advanced high-tech jobs increased by more than seven percent – adding over 7,000 jobs.
DiNapoli’s report highlights the signs that this sector has already begun a positive transformation:
- Manufacturing is still a major force in the upstate labor market – One in every nine employees works in a manufacturing job. These jobs account for 20 percent of private sector wages.
- Upstate increased its high-tech job offerings – Computer and electronic manufacturing industries showed improvement from 2004 to 2008, increasing employment by nine percent. As of 2008, there were more than 250,000 jobs in high-tech industries in upstate New York, and 44 percent were in the most advanced technology areas.
- Other good quality jobs have come with high-tech – From 2005 to 2008, upstate’s metro areas added over 1,500 jobs in computer and mathematics occupations and nearly 7,000 jobs in architecture and engineering. These jobs require more skills and education and typically carry higher salaries.
- Growth occurred in leading-edge industries – 6,000 jobs in information and communications were added from 2004 to 2008, and 1,800 jobs in life science technologies. Both of these industries carry average salaries in excess of $70,000.
DiNapoli noted several reasons why upstate is well positioned for high-tech employment growth:
- The state has an excellent higher educational system, with many top engineering, scientific and professional program offerings. Statewide, college enrollments have increased by 16 percent from 2000 to 2008, and there were 1.2 million students enrolled in degree-credit programs in New York State’s 270 colleges and universities;
- Upstate communities already offer close proximity to major urban centers, major recreational areas, and high-quality public schools, colleges and universities;
- The manufacturing workforce mix continues to evolve and growth is occurring in the more technically advanced sectors of the manufacturing industry, as well as in other scientific and computer-based industries, creating a larger pool of skilled workers.
The report suggests a coordinated effort at the state, regional and local levels in order to build on these strengths and address the challenges that exist in each region of New York.
DiNapoli noted that the New York State Common Retirement Fund’s In-State Investment Program is targeted to companies in New York State to help create jobs in the state. DiNapoli has increased the program's commitment to nearly $1 billion since he took office.
DiNapoli’s office recently issued three audits of state spending on high-tech research projects by the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) and the University of Albany Foundation. The audits found that state funding intended to build and equip nanotechnology research facilities and provide for cancer genomic and life sciences research was spent appropriately.