State Comptroller's Report Looks At Finger Lakes Economy

Sep 1, 2017

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - A new report from the New York State Comptroller’s office highlights the economic profile of the Finger Lakes region. Speaking from the Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli presented the findings based on the nine county area.

The report confirmed some numbers that weren’t all that surprising unfortunately. The City of Rochester has one of the lowest median household income rates at just over $30,000 a year, and more than half of the children in many rural areas and the City of Rochester live in poverty.

The region also saw a population loss of .4%, compared to the rest of the state’s growth of population at 1.8%. Brought up with this statistic was the issue of young people leaving the area, but Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni says she’s not too concerned about that.

"The students may get educated and tend to go away and move away, but in many cases they come back. Now it might not be right away, but they do come back because they like the quality of life that is presented here in the Finger Lakes."

There were also many positives in the report however. The tourism and food manufacturing industries are booming in the region, with the expansion of wineries, breweries and distilleries. 21% of the state’s farmland is in the Finger Lakes.

DiNapoli says Rochester is also 22nd in the nation for percentage of workers in STEM jobs.

"There’s no doubt that the powerhouse of intellectual capital that came out of those big corporations, Eastman Kodak and the others, that although the jobs might not be there like they once were, that investment in engineering and science and technology, intellectual capital is still there in this region."

The unemployment rate decreased from 8% in 2012 to 4.9% in July 2017. Housing also remains affordable with only about 30% of homeowners spending more than 30% of income on housing, which is often cited as the level of affordability.

DiNapoli says local property taxes, which are relatively low by state standards, are another plus for the Finger Lakes region.