2015 is underway on a positive note in our region, as a vibrant employment picture with thousands of new jobs brings added diversity and opportunities for Erie County’s workforce. While the number of unemployed people is down, the number of new jobs is up, particularly in the private sector. Adding momentum to these developments is a strengthening economy built around cutting-edge health care, high-tech and green technology careers that are remaking our image. The investments we’ve been making are paying dividends and it’s an exciting time to be here in the new Erie County!
In the three years since I began serving as your County Executive in January 2012, Erie County’s unemployment rate has fallen from 8.9% to 5.5% and there are 16,500 less people unemployed now than there were then. That statistic is impressive by itself, but data from the New York State Department of Labor shines a light on those numbers and shows that private-sector job growth far outpaced the public sector. Indeed, 2014 ended with the largest amount of private sector jobs in our region since 2000 and while the private sector gained nearly 9,000 jobs since 2011, the public sector actually shed over 2,000 jobs. This demonstrates that government’s payroll is down while private business is growing, the opposite of what many people believe to be true. Moreover, our region’s unemployment rate is lower than both the state and national average, and along with that we’ve seen 36 straight months of job growth. These are all good indicators of our economic revival and underscore the surge in business interest in our area.
As more people in Erie County are joining the workforce, a new business landscape awaits them. Rewarding careers in fields that were embryonic a decade ago are now a reality and are attracting a new generation of tech-savvy workers. For example, work at the Buffalo Medical Campus is creating not only construction jobs but is building the environment for the high tech health care of tomorrow, an environment populated by health care professionals employing the latest technologies in their fields. By extension, the flourishing Medical Campus is drawing worldwide attention as an interdisciplinary model for delivery of health services. It’s not something we’ve always been known for, but this is the new Erie County.
Exciting developments are also underway at the former Republic Steel site, a place where heavy industry had ruled for a century but now the largest solar panel production facility in the Western hemisphere is poised to become a reality. Solar City, a $3 billion investment that will produce thousands of good-paying jobs, will put our area on the map internationally as a producer of clean technology solar panels and a home for modern business. The supporting industries and services that will augment Solar City’s production will also create new jobs and have a significant strengthening impact on our economy.
Fueled by new industries and technologies and powered by our world-class workforce, the new Erie County is heading into a bright economic future.