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Losing 1,000 jobs a month

Buffalo-Niagara will lose nearly as many jobs in the coming year as it did in the past eight years combined, a new economic forecast predicts.

We lost 12,900 jobs from 2000 through November of this year. 

We're projected to lose 11,400  through the end of this year. That's nearly 1,000 a month.

The projections are included in a report by done by ISH Global Insight for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The report looks at the economic situation in the nation's 363 metropolitan regions, which account for 86 percent of the nation's jobs and 90 percent of wage income.

The U.S. economy is now in a deep recession. When the final data is tallied, real GDP growth is expected to have dropped nearly 5.6% in the fourth quarter of 2008, its worst performance since 1982. The results are grim across the board – consumer spending is falling, exports are weakening, and both housing starts and prices continue to decline.

The near-term outlook is not good either, with another 5+% drop in real GDP slated for the first quarter of 2009; it is too soon to look for signs of recovery. The recession, which began in December 2007, is expected to last 18-24 months, longest in the post-war era, with the second largest peak-to-trough drop in real output. A return to solid growth is at least a year away.

OK, readers, start signing "Oh Happy Day" whenever you feel moved. Not now, you say?

How about this clip of Fonz and the gang. It's as close to Happy Days as we're going to see for a while.


Let's take a closer look at the numbers, starting with a bit of history.

In the Go-Go '90s, jobs grew by 20.1 percent nationally. Here it was 2.1 percent, some 11,500 jobs. Which is to say, if we grew at the same rate of the rest of the nation, we would have added another 100,000 jobs, give or take.

And Scott Norwood would have nailed that field goal.

But I digress.

During this decade, we've lost 2.3 percent of our jobs. The median figure among metropolitan regions was a growth of 5.2 percent.

Looking forward, Global Insights projects a loss of the aforementioned 11,400 jobs, a shrinkage of 2.1 percent, compared with a nationwide average drop of 2 percent.

That would bump our unemployment rate up from the present 7.1 percent to 8.7 percent. The national averages are 6.7 and 8.3 percent respectively.

"Everybody is in the same boat now because of the nature of the downturn," said Jim Diffley, manager of regional services for Global Insight. 

The picture is pretty much the same across the state. Here's a list by metro regions, the projected percent decline in jobs and what the unemployment rate will look like by the end of the year.

New York City-Long Island-Northern New Jersey:  -2.1% (job loss), 7.6%, (unemployment rate)

Buffalo-Niagara Falls: -2.1%, 8.7%

Rochester: -1.9%, 8.4%

Syracuse: -1.8%, 8.3%

Albany-Schenectady: -1.3%, 7.2%

Binghamton: -2.5%, 8.2%

Utica-Rome: -1.6%, 8.2%

Elmira: -2.1%, 8.3%

Glens Falls: -1.7%, 8.3%   

Kingston: --1.4%, 7.8%

Ithaca: -0.1%, 6.2%.

Moral of the story: Move to Ithaca.

Things could be worse for us in Buffalo, Diffley said.

"You've done a little better than the Midwest," he said.

Yeah, Flint, eat our dust.

Diffley offered this advice when I asked what political, business and economic development leaders in our community ought to be doing in light of the recession.

"The two things you should do now is try to mitigate foreclosure-type problems and capitalize effectively on the federal government stimulus. Get jobs in place that are useful for long-term productivity," he said.

In which kind of sectors?

"Alternative energy sectors, advanced manufacturing. You have a business and workforce infrastructure that could be rather productive."

Funny, but that's not what our fearless leaders have in mind. No, they want A/C in City Hall. And more traffic signals. Nevermind what's been happening to the economy.

Just a thought: Perhaps the powers that be, and some folks who think outside the box, ought to get the the same room and reach a consensus on what the region's ask should be for federal bailout funds. Because right now, all we have are some DOA wish lists.


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