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Westchester Isn’t the Self-Sustaining Economy We Thought It Would Be — Yet

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For decades, community planners, economists, real estate developers, and even interested dilettantes have been predicting an exodus from NYC that would ultimately transform Westchester and the mid-Hudson Valley into self-contained, self-sustaining economic zones of residential and commercial activity.

Well, according to a recent report from Marist College, we’re not quite there yet.

Titled “Commutation Trends in the Hudson Valley 2015-2017,” the Marist Bureau for Economic Research report states that 43% of working Hudson Valley residents are heading south for employment, to New York City, perpetuating the role of the Big Apple as an essential driver of the region’s economy.

“Much has been done across the [Hudson Valley] region to attract and retain business,” says Christy Huebner-Caridi, director of the Marist Bureau for Economic Research and assistant professor of economics, “[but] there is a disjoint between the jobs available in the region and skillset of employees in the region.” Compounding the issue is the steady influx of more recent Hudson Valley residents who had migrated from NYC but kept their jobs there.

“The data paint a picture of the complex, full spectrum of employment,” says Huebner-Caridi. “On one hand, we saw an increase in the number of residents who hold more than one job, which speaks to people cobbling together…part-time jobs…to create the wages of a full-time job. Then, in Westchester County, we’re seeing a majority of residents commuting into the city for higher salaries.”

While it is true that Westchesterites are the least dependent on the Hudson Valley for employment (only 48.57% of Westchesterites actually work in the county), a recent Housing Needs Assessment sponsored by the Westchester County Executive’s Office found that more people commute into Westchester for work than live and work here, suggesting that Westchester continues to evolve as a workforce commuter destination rather than existing only as Manhattan’s bedroom community. 

The Marist survey also found:

Ulster County residents are the most dependent on intra-regional employment, at 74.1%.
The largest demographic holding more than one job is 30-55.
The number of people ages 55-69 in the workforce increased by 10,948 between 2015 and 2017, while the number of people 30-54 declined by 12,974.

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