The Hudson Valley is making money moves!
At least, parts of it are. According to a recent study by the Marist Bureau of Economic Research, outer-Valley commuters are driving income increases in the Hudson Valley. Yet while those commuters earn additional wages outside of the Hudson River region, individuals who are living and working within it face diminished wages and fewer job opportunities.
What’s the deal with this discrepancy, and what does it mean for future generations in the Hudson Valley? Let’s break down the numbers:
Total personal income in the Hudson Valley is increasing.
“Income from commutation continues to dominate earned income growth [for Hudson Valley residents],” says Christy Huebner-Caridi, director of the Bureau and Assistant Professor of Economics at Marist. In fact, commuter income increased at a rate of 6.5 percent in 2017, whereas non-commuter income in that same period grew by 4.6 percent. Within the Valley, Putnam County is the most dependent on commuter income, relying upon it for 55.3 percent of overall income.
“The primary causes for this phenomenon are the increasing number of residents who commute to New York City – the highest-paid region of the state,” Caridi adds.
Even so, a slight majority (60 percent) of jobs held by Hudson Valleyites remain within the region. How long that majority will last, however, is yet to be seen. After all, over the five-year period analyzed from 2013 to 2017, commuter income grew more than two times as fast as non-commuter income. Are extra funds enough of an incentive to make the trek away from the Valley?
Young professionals in the Valley are having more trouble finding employment with suitable wages than their older counterparts are.
From 2000 to 2017, the number of jobs (by sector) in the Hudson Valley for workers between the ages of 22 and 44 decreased by an average of five percent. However, workers above the age of 45 saw a 10-percent increase in the number of employment opportunities.
On average, employees in the 22-44 bracket suffered a drop in income from $43,893 to $41,516, a plunge that occured despite the rising cost of living in the region. With the exception of Orange and Ulster Counties, every county in the Hudson Valley saw a decrease in wages for this group. In the 45-plus cohort, meanwhile, only Rockland’s population saw a slight one-percent drop in wages from 2000 to 2017.
According to a study by Pattern for Progress, just as wages for younger workers are on the decline, so too are the number of jobs held by that age group. In the period studied, the Newburgh-based organization found that young professionals faced fewer job prospects in a majority of local industries, with the largest declines taking place in manufacturing, wholesale trade, public administration, and information.
Conversely, the 45-and-up group only saw a drop in the number of jobs within the information sector, with the most gains in healthcare and social assistance, educational services, and retail trade.
Adobe Stock / vadim_key
Just as job availability is a major factor in determining whether Hudson Valleyites work in the region, commute outside of it, or pack up and move elsewhere, so too is the overall cost of living. For young local residents earning just over the $41,000 average, finding the means to pay for an apartment, food, transportation, and medical expenses can prove a challenge.
That cost of living is highest in Putnam and Rockland Counties, where one individual would need to earn at least $36,308 to take care of himself or herself.
And so the question goes: Is that income enough to support life in the Hudson Valley?
While answers can only be given on a case by case basis, the bright sides of life along the Hudson River remain constant. Not only is the cost of living lower for Hudson Valleyites than it if for metropolitan residents in places like New York City, but it also comes with a wealth of perks.
From local hikes and swimming hole day trips to community programming and public resources, the Hudson Valley offers a number of ways to live well at a low cost. On the housing front, more affordable live-work-play developments are on the rise than ever before. With spaces like The Hive and Queen City Lofts in Poughkeepsie, residents can settle down in thriving communities near public transportation at a cost that is bearable for their paychecks.
What do you think about the rise and fall of incomes in the Hudson Valley? Let us know your thought in the comments!