By Dave Donelson
Westchester is in the best shape it’s been for quite a while. Jobs and productivity are up; unemployment is down; so the economy is in pretty good shape.” Those words, from Westchester County Association president/CEO Bill Mooney Jr., pretty much sum up the county’s economic outlook for 2019. With the exception of a few soft spots and the constant threat of storm clouds from Washington, DC, and Albany, Westchester’s prospects are definitely bright.
“The slowing global economy might impact some of our multinational corporations, but the diversity of our economy in Westchester makes us very strong,” adds Marsha Gordon, CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. “We have virtually no unemployment. In terms of business growth and new companies coming in, it’s been very positive.” Gordon reports that the county’s unemployment rate has been as low as 3.3 percent in recent months.
The county has experienced solid growth in most of the major sectors of the economy, and nearly everyone we spoke with is optimistic about the immediate future. “When you look at the healthcare industry, it’s going no place but up,” Mooney points out. “The infrastructure is huge and generates about $18 billion in cash flow and 52,000 jobs. And, the office-space market is a landlord’s market for the first time in years.”
Two areas of some concern are retailing and single-family home sales. Both experienced some softness last year. And, while multifamily developments are mushrooming across the county, the high-end single-family home market is languishing, at least in part because of the changes in federal deductibility for property taxes.
The Westchester County Office of Economic Development is ramping up to accelerate the county’s growth, according to the agency’s director, Bridget Gibbons. “We have a very robust, multifaceted plan for economic development for the coming year,” she says. “In addition to attracting businesses, we’re going to focus on attracting talent this year, by showing young people that Westchester is a great place to live.”
Looking across the county, Gordon points to one of the county’s economic strengths. “According to the BCW Data Exchange, ninety percent of Westchester companies have fewer than 20 employees,” she says. “The real growth in the economy is in these small businesses.”
To substantiate that rosy outlook, we examined eight segments of our economy in greater detail.
Dave Donelson, a frequent contributor to 914INC., is convinced the economy in 2019 will be better unless it gets worse.