Low-wage job sectors and workers earning less than the statewide average drove much of the Hudson Valley's non-government job growth in recent years, according to a new Marist Bureau of Economic Research report.
“One metric for examining the impact of this phenomena on household income is the increase in the number of persons with more than one job,” bureau Director Christy Huebner Caridi said in a statement.
Huebner Caridi analyzed state Labor Department data from 2009 to 2018 in Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Putnam, Ulster, Sullivan and Westchester counties.
In the Hudson Valley, the top five fastest-growing industries were mining; construction; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; administrative and waste services; and health care and social assistance. But the health care and social assistance sector remains the biggest employer.
In Orange County, private-sector (non-government) jobs accounted for 82.2 percent of the workforce in 2018. And the average annual private-sector salary was $43,983, or 24.6 percent lower than the Hudson Valley ($58,351) and 40.1 percent lower than the state ($73,467).
From 2009 to 2018, the fastest-growing Orange County job sectors included retail (19.2 percent growth), averaging annual pay of $31,748, and health care and social assistance (19 percent), with average pay of $50,189.
Bill Fioravanti, Orange County's economic development director, said no job should be looked down on, and some lower-paying jobs offer solid benefits and help the local economy.
“But beyond that, we also need to continue bringing sustainable industry sectors, quality companies and higher-paying jobs to the area, and (County Executive) Steve Neuhaus is definitely pushing for that,” Fioravanti said. “We have a formal strategy to grow sectors like tech.”
In Ulster County, private-sector jobs made up 78.6 percent of the workforce in 2018. The average annual private-sector salary was $39,582, 32.2 percent below the Hudson Valley average and 46.1 percent less than the state.
Among Ulster County's fastest-growing job sectors were mining; information, including jobs in mass media and telecommunications; construction; accommodation and food services; and finance and insurance.
In Sullivan County, private-sector workers totaled 79.2 percent of the workforce in 2018, averaging $37,900, which was 35 percent below the Hudson Valley average and 48.4 percent less than the statewide average.
A typical government employee averaged annual earnings of $64,453 in Orange, $60,291 in Ulster and $58,264 in Sullivan.
In the Hudson Valley, “Salary has not kept pace with inflation and the rising cost of living,” said Joe Czajka of Pattern for Progress, a local research institute that's come to similar conclusions as Marist's researcher. “There are those who can afford to live in the Hudson Valley, and then there are many for whom it's a struggle.”