Jun 3


Numbers dispute the claims of a WNY renaissance

Compared with the nation as a whole, metro Buffalo is old, poorly paid, lagging in job growth and more dependent of government assistance. Then there's poverty and segregation. Are happy days really here again?

Some numbers caught my eye in the new edition of the WNY Economic News produced by economic professors at Canisius University. 

And I quote:

  • National payroll employment has surpassed its pre-COVID peak by more than 7 million jobs while WNY employment is more than 12,000 below its pre-COVID peak. 
  • As they have been since the late 1980s, wages for workers in the Buffalo MSA [metropolitan statistical area] are lower than wages for workers in most industries in the United States. Thus, it should not be a surprise that the most recent data for the Buffalo MSA shows that the average wage per worker in the MSA is approximately 88% of the national average. 
  • The latest personal income data for the nation and the Buffalo MSA show that government transfers to individuals account for 18% of personal income nationally and 24% in the Buffalo MSA. Nearly 80% of that was made up of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. 
  • The percent of the population 65 years of age and older in the Buffalo MSA is 27%, while the same age group is about 17% of the U.S. population. Thus, the Buffalo MSA has lower earnings per worker than the nation, a lower wage growth than the nation and has become increasingly dependent on governmental transfers. 

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, let’s stop the nonsense about a renaissance in WNY. We’re not as down-and-out as we once were, but we still lag behind the country as a whole. Add to this our stagnant population, rampant poverty in the city and pervasive segregation throughout the region. Folks, we have serious problems that present policies and the politicians who promulgate them are not sufficiently addressing. Not even coming close.

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The problems of our region extend upstate, as evidenced by new estimates from the U.S. Census. Eight in ten upstate cities and towns are losing population. The high cost of government, which translates into high taxes, contributes to the flight, yet the Empire Center reports that state lawmakers appear poised to add to the burden. As it now stands, New York is already looking at a large structural deficit in its state budget.

On the topic of secrecy in state government, New York Focus exposes a hush-hush Senate committee that even some lawmakers don’t know about.  Elsewhere, Reinvent Albany issued a report card on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s pledge to improve transparency in state government. The good government group termed the Hochul administration’s efforts “incomplete and underwhelming.” To which I’ll add, based on Investigative Post’s experience, state government under Hochul is just as opaque as it was under Andrew Cuomo.

The Pew Research Center reports America’s middle class is shrinking, down from 61 percent of the population in 1971 to 51 percent today. Essentially, the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are treading water or getting poorer. 

This, from Margaret Sullivan, based on an NBC poll:

When people get their information in traditional ways — from newspapers and from the national news networks — they vastly prefer Joe Biden. When they get their news from “digital sources,” it’s a tossup. And when they don’t follow political news in any organized way, they vastly prefer Donald Trump.

Consider this a must read.

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The Washington Post reports on how Donald Trump is strong-arming major donors. And what he threatens to do to demonstrators opposed to the war in Gaza if elected in November. The operative word is “crush.”

Nixon lieutenant John Ehrlichman explains the genesis of the war on drugs: essentially a war on Blacks and hippies. This is what he said in an interview with Harper’s Magazine:

We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

You can read the full story here.

OK, I feel like I have to leave you with something on the light side. The late, great Bill Walton recalls the time he took Larry Bird and his other Boston Celtic teammates to see the Grateful Dead. Hilarious.

Investigative Post

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