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Short-term gains vs. long-term growth

March 12, 2019 12:00 am

Jobs are up and unemployment is down in the Twin Counties, according to private sector job growth figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor. But how many of these jobs are short-term? And how many will continue long-term growth?

Much of the state’s job growth in 2018 was in New York City, but the numbers in the Twin Counties were also looking up. In Columbia County, the number of nonfarm, private sector jobs rose 2.4 percent, and in Greene County, it rose 3.9 percent. Looking behind those statistics is revealing.

While the jobs figures in Columbia County are good, F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, said his organization continues to seek improvement.

“Economic development is about a decent job and quality of life for everyone in our county,” Tucker said. “While these are great statistics, we cannot overlook the fact that there are still people looking for work.”

In Greene County, much of the job growth can be attributed to upgrades at local ski resorts, which expanded last year.

“There continues to be growth in the leisure and hospitality sector, which is up 400 jobs,” said Karl Heck, director of economic development and planning with the Greene County Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning. “There were other ups and downs, but that was the big growth sector. We have a number of ski resorts in Hunter and Windham upgrading their facilities so that has had a positive impact on job growth in the county.”

Greene County officials should look at the nature of these jobs. If they’re seasonal or if the workers leave when the jobs are finished, they will not count toward any long-term impact. Another area of concern in Greene County is construction is not experiencing growth.

The jobs report is rosy, but this month, the optimism of recent reports seems to be fraying at the edges. The number of meaningful jobs that can be filled in the Twin Counties might be reaching the saturation point.

We hope it doesn’t come to this because the pendulum is swinging in the right direction for both counties. Greene and Columbia officials are advised to keep an eye on job creation in the coming months. If they’re smart, they won’t bet the house on deceptively large gains.