Majority says local economy has not yet begun to recover
Nearly half of respondents report salary freeze in last year
The majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say the local economy has yet to begin recovering from the recession. Two-thirds of readers say they are optimistic about their job situation, however.
The Rochester-area economy saw an increase in the unemployment rate in May and a loss of non-farm and private-sector jobs. The jobless rate was 7.7 percent, up from 7.4 percent in April and 5.2 percent a year before.
But the local economy compared favorably with New York as whole; statewide, the jobless rate reached a 16-year high of 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, a recent Brookings Institution report said the Rochester-area economy’s performance in the first quarter ranked in the top 20 among the 100 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas.
Nearly half of the respondents report being personally affected by a salary freeze during the recession. An additional 29 percent say they have seen a reduction in their benefits.
Roughly 470 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted June 29 and 30.
Has the local economy started to recover from the recession?
Over the previous 12 months, which of the following have you personally experienced?
Salary freeze: 45%
Benefit reduction: 29%
Retired/not employed by choice: 4%
Unemployment (entire 12 months): 3%
None of the above: 33%
Looking ahead over the next 12 months, are you optimistic or pessimistic about your job situation?
We have seen a sharp increase in recruiting and staffing orders in the last four to six weeks. It is well known that staffing tends to be a leading indicator of recovery. If our business is an indicator of the wider Rochester economy, the second half of 2009 into 2010 should be positive.
-Brian Keenan, The Employment Store
I work in a declining industry and work at a company that has laid more people off this year, imposed a salary freeze and reduced benefits in the hopes of surviving. At the same time, I live in a state with an insatiable appetite for stratospherically high taxes, so I don’t see any hope for my personal economic situation to recover until I change industries and states. Hopefully once the economy recovers I’ll find a new industry and once family issues are addressed I’ll find a new state. Those moves are what I’m optimistic about, because my industry’s outlook and the New York State tax situation have no hope of improving.
-Bill Wyatt, Fairport
I think it has improved because it never dropped off that much. Our lackluster local economy never got too high in the last 20 years, so it didn’t have far to fall. We have zero growth locally but no longer depend on the local economy.
-Bill Lanigan, Chamberlin Rubber
Finally, my economic predictions and comparisons between Rochester and most of the nation have been supported. The most recent recession shows that economies cannot be supported by only the housing market, high-risk financial services and tourism. Rochester now has a diversified economy that still has an active/surviving manufacturing base. When will the rest of the nation-and local residents alike-understand that this is a great place to live and work? I wish I could move back sooner.
-Brian Stieler, Penn State University
There are some good signs here in companies that are picking up business, adding employees and showing other signs of growth. Companies like Xerox prepared themselves and are weathering the recession well. People are returning to the stores to shop. It is better but has a way to go.
I noticed a lot of residential for-sale signs have either “Sold” or “Sale Pending” on them. This is a good sign.
In the past, Rochester lagged behind the rest of the country by six to 12 months. With Kodak and Xerox making up a much smaller piece of the local economy, it appears that is no longer true.
-Carlo Jannotti, Forward Branding
We’re seeing an increase in purchase offers, Saturday and Sunday open houses are busier, the phones are ringing again and the general outlook seems to be brighter. We’re very optimistic about the future.
-Michael D. Haymes, president, Re/Max Realty Group
07/03/09 (C) Rochester Business Journal