According to the Urban Dictionary, a nail in the coffin is an event leading to inevitable failure. Upstate New York is in a generations-long decline which was already underway 56 years ago, when President Kennedy noted it in his 1962 speech to the New York Economic Club.
Governor Cuomo has said he wants to revive the upstate economy. However, he has driven three nails into the coffin of Upstate: paid family medical leave, the $15 hourly minimum wage, and the ban on shale gas development. All three are popular progressive policies and job-killers.
Only New York, New Jersey and California have paid family medical leave, a policy guaranteed to inhibit business development. How do employers fill the position vacated for the 12 weeks that the “benefit” allows? They must pay both the employee and the replacement. New York’s benefits are the most generous in the nation, a huge expense, not to mention the red tape.
Businesses will quite naturally choose more hospitable states that are cheaper and less regulated. The minimum wage is $7.25 in Pennsylvania, $8.60 in New Jersey and $10.50 in Vermont. No state bordering New York has a minimum wage anywhere near $15.
Cuomo’s ban on gas development robbed our neighbors of their right to the natural gas under their land. In almost any other state, landowners enjoy that right, profit by it, and thereby enrich the community as a whole. Gas development would have been like a jolt of electricity to the flagging Southern Tier economy. The gas industry was going to invest billions in upstate, mostly here in the beleaguered Southern Tier. In states where gas development is allowed, people prosper. The national average median income is $50,502, while the average gas industry job pays $71,220.
The effect of Cuomo’s policies is continued decline. According to a recent Department of Labor report, for the year ending in March 2018 (Cuomo’s been in office since 2011), Elmira had a 1.2 % decline in private sector employment, the worst in the state. Binghamton had zero job growth.
In the competition between states for people, New York is the loser. Upstate lost another 3,596 people in the year ending in July 2017. Since the last census in 2010, upstate has lost 61,688 people. Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler and Tioga counties saw population declines of 4%, 1%, 3.5% and 5.6% respectively.
If Cuomo’s policies were effective, people would be arriving, not leaving.
If the states are laboratories of democracy, then progressive policies in New York have failed.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.