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Decisive day

 

When New Yorkers went to the polls in November 2008, the stakes were high. The state was staring at a four-year cumulative budget deficit of $47 billion as a deep recession had a chokehold on the economy.

Two years later, a modest economic recovery is under way. But New York’s budget picture remains bleak-with a projected three-year deficit of some $30 billion-and if anything, the stakes now are even higher.

New York was a bystander during much of the growth that occurred nationwide over the last two decades. Without action now to change tax and spending policies that have weighed on the state economy, more years of lagging performance are likely.

A new analysis by the Empire Center for New York State Policy highlights some important points about the state’s economy from 1993 to 2008:

  • New York’s job base over the 16-year period increased at one-fifth the national rate.
  • The state gained 272,172 jobs from firms moving here but lost many more-393,280 jobs-as companies relocated to other states.
  • Firm closures exceeded startups by 506,620. By this benchmark, only five states did worse.
  • New York lagged most states in job creation by small firms, including the self-employed.

Overall in 1993-2008, the Empire State added 442,682 jobs. That 4.6 percent growth may appear satisfactory, but New York trailed all states but one. And total jobs here peaked nearly a decade ago.

The report notes that "New York’s relatively low percentage of jobs in small firms and sole proprietorships may have given the state some insulation from the worst effects of the recession, which has hit small business especially hard," but the odds of a strong, sustained rebound without a thriving small-business sector are not good.

On Tuesday, New Yorkers will play a large role in deciding what path the state takes. Voters should weigh carefully the positions and qualifications of candidates for the Legislature and governor’s office. This is a time for thoughtful, decisive action, not simplistic answers or just more of the same.

Election Day will determine who represents New Yorkers in Albany. On Nov. 3, the work of holding them accountable begins.

10/29/10 (c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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