Brookings' report shows mixed picture for the Rochester area economy

Feb 25, 2018

A new report on economic growth around the U.S. shows a mixed picture for the Greater Rochester area.

The Metro Monitor report is done annually by the Washington-based think-tank, the Brookings Institution.  This latest report actually covers a one-year period from 2015 to 2016.  It shows growth in the U.S. economy overall, with most of the larger metro areas showing an increase in jobs and other expansion in their local economies.

But taking a deeper dive into the numbers, there are some weak spots, and that includes the Rochester area.

Chad Shearer, the lead author for the report, says the growth at businesses in the Rochester area is generally what they refer to as “young firms,” companies that have been around for less than five years.

“So even though the Rochester metropolitan area is seeing a lot of growth in jobs at young firms, we’re not seeing that translate into a major kind of impact on the region’s economic trajectory as a whole,” Shearer told WXXI News.

But Shearer says the growth at “young firms” could be an indicator of future growth.

“Jobs at young firms, which is a kind of crude measure of the health of entrepreneurial firms, did expand, so the region actually saw an uptick in jobs at firms younger than five years of 10 percent which ranked 13th nationwide so that could be a promising indicator of future growth.”

Shearer says the slower growth we are seeing in other parts of the local economy is common to other metro areas around the northeast and in the Great Lakes region.

On a more positive note, he says that even if manufacturing in this region has been shrinking for some time, there is growth in some of the better paying, white collar types of jobs in areas including health care and information.

Nationwide, Shearer says the report still shows disparities in how economic growth is affecting different parts of the population. For instance, he says that even in metro areas where wages were up, white workers saw greater gains than people of color.