Columbia County census a study in extremes

Both Columbia and Greene counties saw population decreases in the last decade.

Greene County’s population has decreased by more than 1,200 people despite rising home values, a potential labor shortage, increasing sales tax revenue and business growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

In 2010, the county’s population was estimated to be 49,221. The 2020 census tallied 47,931 people, according to the data, for a 2.6% decline. Overall, the state’s population increased 4.2%.

Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said the county is looking to see how the numbers breakdown, especially by age group.

“I think we’ve got to see the data where that age group is lost from,” Groden said.

According to 2020 Census data, the county’s population under age 18 decreased by 12.4% from 2010 — a loss of 1,176.

Groden said the county is also curious about how people owning second homes in Greene impacted the data.

Despite the population decrease, the state Association of Realtors released data showing that from May 2020 to May 2021, home values in Greene County increased by more than 70%. Greene County Economic Development and Planning Director Karl Heck said in July the spike can be attributed to high demand versus a low supply of homes.

In 2020, Greene County sold a record 903 houses, according to the Association of Realtors. Heck said the U.S. Postal Service reported 800 people moved to the area over the course of the last year.

Groden said 30% of the county’s housing stock is made up of second homes.

The county expressed concern about its labor shortage earlier this year.

Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said the county unemployment rate is low at its current figure of around 5%. Greene County Legislator Michael Bulich, R-Catskill, said the county is losing potential employees.

“The real result is we’ve lost youthful population. You said it before 100 times in other types of job opportunities. Our youth are just not here in the numbers like they were 10 years ago,” Bulich said.

Greene County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Friedman said a number of different factors contribute to the labor issue. Greene is an older county demographically, with a large segment of the population retired or nearing retirement.

Bulich expressed concern about competing with private-sector wages for labor, as raising wages would only cause private companies to raise theirs.

“There’s a severe shortage of labor,” Greene County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Friedman said. “Many, many employers are actively searching for help and there are numerous jobs available, far more jobs available even the number of people that are on unemployment.”

In the eight-county Capital Region last year, 9,465 applications to form a business were submitted to the Internal Revenue Service — a 3.2% increase over the previous year. Greene and Schenectady counties led the region in growth, with 17.9% and 19.7% increases, respectively, according to the Center for Economic Growth.

The study examined U.S. Census Bureau data that evaluated how many businesses asked the IRS for an Employer Identification Number, a unique number assigned to businesses for tax reporting. The study defines “businesses” as corporations, partnerships, nonprofits and sole proprietorships.

Friedman said the county has seen a large number of businesses start up in the last few years, spanning many types of industries.

“We’ve had lots of new restaurants, some new manufacturing businesses and new art-related and creative economy businesses. It has been a wide array of businesses across numerous industries,” Friedman said. “So it’s been pretty broad and including in tourism — we’re seeing some new hospitality properties.”

Greene County sales tax collection — which is from the sales of goods and services — from January to May 2021 exceeded $15 million — an increase of more than $3 million over the first five months of 2020, according to a report from the Office of the state Comptroller. Greene County’s sales tax rate is 8%, half of which goes to the state and the other half to the county.

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(3) comments

Mr cat

I was going to buy a property on Main Street in Leeds. I grew up in Leeds in the 70s and wanted a small coffee shop/ gift shop/ breakfast shop and found a place I wanted. I checked into such requirements and found the red tape in Greene county absolutely ridiculous as with all the permit fees. If it’s not grandfathered in forget it. The current county administration needs to be ousted and put someone in that knows business in my view. Your not in a lucrative area your a hamlet in middle of nowhere get a reality check. Until then I will invest elsewhere.


Greene County fails to encourage new money businesses, like tech.

These numbers are consistent with the OutOfAlignment reports from Central Hudson.

Groden and Hart need to be replaced. They created a new debt obligation of $90 million for an unjustified jail, destroyed a perfectly good 80 Bridge St. Sheriff’s Office, loosing another $6.2 million in value.

There are no real jobs here except in government, which has a very high 36%.

The $53 million debt doesn’t include the $40 - $120 million needed for staff retirement and health care.

If you had 10 choices Groden and Hart and Linger will choose the absolutely worst one.

All growth here occurs in spite of bungling from 411 Main Street.

As for the chamber, and Jeff Friedman, they belatedly noticed that just 10 of the 1,300 businesses in Greene County are minority owned. Jeff oversaw the demise of the community center in Catskill.

The logo for the Village of Catskill is the sleeping version of Rip VanWinkle.

These same managers arrest and prosecute me for sustaining these arguments, but it’s entirely necessary.


I read the article with amusement. Labor shortage?! Give out less welfare and send able-bodied people like Scott Meyers to work! Suing people is not a career, Mr. Meyers. Maybe if you actually worked you would not have time for your pathetic lawsuits against so many able-bodied people who actually do have jobs and careers. Think about that!

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