University of Rochester’s total fiscal impact on the economy was nearly $300 billion in 2019, with a local impact of more than $85 billion, a new report from the Center for Governmental Research Inc. shows.
UR is a major contributor to the upstate economy, directly employing roughly 32,500, with an estimated 28,000 full-time equivalents. Through spillover spending and its other economic impacts, its total employment impact is nearly 68,000, with earnings of $4.7 billion.
The university and medical center is the largest private employer in Upstate New York and the seventh-largest statewide, the report shows. The same report shows that Wegmans Food Markets Inc. is the 15th largest private employer statewide, while Rochester Regional Health System is the 19th. Most of the rest of the top 20 employees reside in New York City.
UR and its affiliates expanded their overall headcount by roughly 1,700 workers, a 5 percent increase from 2017 employment levels. CGR estimates the aggregate employment impact of the University as totaling nearly 68,000 jobs, an increase from 64,000 in 2017. Spillover employment is spurred by the employment and other activities of the university and includes external spending by the university on goods and services.
In 2019, UR paid wages of $2.2 billion to employees living in New York State. With spillover wages included, that rose to $4.7 billion in income in New York State, an 18 percent increase from 2017.
UR and its affiliates purchased goods and services totaling some $1.3 billion in 2019. Of this total, $317 million or 24 percent was spent in New York State, a 6 percent increase from 2017 spending.
During the past five fiscal years (FY2015 – FY2019), UR and its affiliates made more than $1.6 billion dollars in capital project expenditures, adjusted for inflation, according to the report. This averages to roughly $324 million in capital investments per year.
CGR estimates that spending by students totaled roughly $88 million in 2019. This spending supports in total roughly 2,460 jobs in the New York state economy and $90 million in total labor income.
Finally, another way UR is an economic engine involves the attraction of visitors who spend money while here. The University of Rochester hosts visitors throughout the year for events such as Meliora weekend, commencement, concerts, recitals, athletic events and admissions visits. Visitors to these events are a vital source of economic impact because they bring new dollars to the New York state economy, the report states.
Some 430,000 people attended a UR event in 2019, and an estimated 40,000 people were out-of-town visitors. They lodged more than 35,000 nights in local hotels. During 2019, CGR estimates visitors to UR spent nearly $9 million on food, lodging and gasoline, resulting in roughly 107 jobs and $4.7 million of labor income to the state economy.
For every $1 million the state provides to boost the grape and wine industry in New York, it gets $1.3 billion back in taxes, according to an economic impact report that just came out.
The report compiled on behalf of the New York State Wine & Grape Foundation concludes that the industry had a $6.65 billion impact on New York’s economy in 2019, including jobs and wages, expenditures to support the industry, and sales of grape and wine products.
“I’m encouraged that the industry continues to grow and it’s an important contributor to the state’s economy, especially in the rural parts of the state,” said Sam Filler, executive director of the foundation.
It’s difficult to make side-by-side comparisons with this 2019 report and others, as a previous report the foundation commissioned in 2012 used entirely different methodology, Filler said. That report indicated an impact of $4.8 billion from the New York wine and grape industry, but it didn’t include the foundation itself or the research dollars and wages surrounding grape and wine research at Cornell AgriTech, Filler noted.
A 2017 national report by Wine America showed the wine industry had a $13.8 billion impact on New York, but again used a different methodology. That report didn’t include juice grapes, and did include out-of-state wines sold in New York.
Filler said the national report’s New York findings included, for instance, sales offices in New York established by large California wine brands. The foundation’s report was aimed solely at determining the impact of the home-grown industry, especially direct impact.
“Those are actual jobs and actual tax revenue and salaries paid that are directly attributed to the presence of the New York state wine industry,” Filler said. Such data helps when seeking additional support from state economic development sources, he said.
Both the latest New York report and the 2017 national report were conducted by John Dunham and Associates, a Brooklyn economic research firm.
John Dunham, managing partner of the firm, said the report shows “The New York wine industry is really quite healthy—it’s growing in terms of revenues. It’s not growing jobs as fast, but that’s expected in most manufacturing” sectors. The number of jobs were flatter than they might have been, Dunham said, because Constellation Brands, headquartered in Victor, sold some of its wine brands to Gallo, moving some of the associated jobs to California.
The modeling used to account for jobs in the foundation’s report is more realistic, Dunham suggested, because it’s tailored to the state rather than using a mathematical formula that cuts a national model down to the state level.
Key findings of the foundation’s 2019 New York report:
The industry is directly responsible for the full-time equivalent of 71,950 jobs. Many of the industry’s jobs are seasonal.
Those jobs paid $2.79 billion in wages.
Some 1.43 million people visited wineries and vineyards in the state for a total of 4.71 million.
Wine-related tourism resulted in $1.33 billion in other kinds of spending, such as lodging, food and transportation.
Total taxes, including state, local and federal, from the industry were $2.4 billion.
The state had 471 wineries in 2019, an increase of about 30 since the 2017 report and more than 170 since the 2012 report.
New York has about 35,000 acres in grape production with just over two-thirds of them devoted to Concord grapes, which are primarily used for juice instead of wine, and a little less than one-third planted with grapes destined to make wine. A small percent of acreage was devoted to fresh grapes.
Though grape juice production is larger than wine production in terms of volume and acreage, the report indicated that wine production is much more lucrative, starting with the value of the grapes. Wine grapes tend to sell for up to eight times the price of juice grapes, depending on varietal. Additionally, wine production promotes tourism, produces products of higher dollar value than grape juice and involves retail interactions at the wineries themselves.
“Selling wine continues to be an important way for wineries to contribute to their businesses and interact with consumers,” Filler said.
Still, the report noted, grape juice production is not to be overlooked.
“All told the grape juice industry in New York is responsible for 688 jobs, paying almost $39.28 million in wages. Over $154.22 million in economic activity in New York is due to the grape juice industry,” the report said.
For the first time, data was collected on a county-by-county and legislative districts, Filler said, providing some interesting takeaways. Those more detailed reports showed Yates County, the third-least populous county in the state out of 65 counties or boroughs, is the center of New York’s wine country, he said.
“Yates is the heart of the industry in terms of vineyards planted,” he said, with about 5,000 acres under cultivation. Not surprisingly, Yates also had the most vineyard jobs to tend those vineyards.
The county’s unique geography also makes it part of three different Finger Lakes’ wine areas – Canandaigua, Keuka and Seneca – and places it at the center of the entire Finger Lakes Region, the largest wine region in the state.
Filler also said he was not satisfied with available data on vineyards, as federal agriculture censuses only look at two categories of grapes: Concord and all other types. As a result, the federal census provides little information on whether types of wine grapes planted are growing or changing, for instance.
“We need more accurate vineyard data in terms of what’s planted in the state,” Filler said. “That will help us better tell the story of what’s happening in the NYS wine industry.”
The foundation conducted a supplemental survey, but it wasn’t ready in time to be included in this economic analysis, he said. And any survey relies on voluntary efforts of the growers to complete. The industry may have to foot the bill to create a more complete survey to which growers will be willing to devote their time, he said.
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