Marist Report Shows HV Commuting Trends

Feb 26, 2018

More than half of Hudson Valley residents who work commute to their jobs within the Hudson Valley. Many make the trip to New York City as well. That’s according to a new report from the Marist Bureau of Economic Research that shows healthy employment levels in the region. It finds that the region has settled into a period of employment stabilization following the Great Recession. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with the report’s author.

A new report from Marist College’s Marist Bureau of Economic Research shows that nearly 56 percent of all Hudson Valley residents who work commute to their jobs within the Hudson Valley. The report also shows that overall employment is strong for Hudson Valley residents. Director of the Marist Bureau of Economic Research Dr. Christy Huebner Caridi says more residents are looking for jobs than are available in their home counties.

“And so if we look across a little over a little over 59 percent of all primary jobs held, 44 percent are in the home county, and about 15 percent are in other Hudson Valley counties,” Huebner Caridi says.

Nearly 43 percent of all Hudson Valley job-holders commute to New York City; the vast majority to Manhattan. Westchester County has the highest percentage of commuters to New York City at 35 percent. Huebner Caridi says that even if all the Hudson Valley counties could satisfy the local labor market with jobs, a pool of residents would still commute to New York City.

“First of all, financial services sector, there’s one of the world centers for that, and Facebook is down there now; Google’s opening up down there now, so there’s a lot of high-tech jobs that are now available in Manhattan that didn’t exist even 5 and 10 years ago,” says Huebner Caridi. “So people with that skill set that chose to leave the city and/or people who moved or lived up here and have that skill set, that’s the best labor market for them to be participating in because, yes, the wages higher and, for the most part, they can come back to the Hudson Valley, they’d have to get away basically from Westchester, but if they got into Dutchess County, Ulster County, Putnam, even parts of Orange, they can live very, very well on New York City salaries in this particular region.”

She says that while employment levels in the Hudson Valley are healthy, more opportunities within the region would be a boon to commuters currently heading to New York City. Meantime, Ulster County residents are the most dependent on intraregional employment at just north of 75 percent of all primary jobs held. Westchester County, on the other hand, is the least dependent at close to 50 percent. Apart from getting an employment and commuting snapshot, the report can serve to provide insights as to transportation infrastructure needs.

“More and more people are commuting, even if it’s between counties it’s most likely by car. If it’s into New York City and possibly even from Dutchess into, say, Westchester, it could very likely be by Metro-North,” says Huebner Caridi. “And so there is going to be an increase and has been an increase in commuter traffic going down south in this particular case. So that’s an issue certainly for roadwork and it’s an issue for how many trains and availability of trains making this Metro-North run.”

As for demographics, she notes that individuals aged 30-54 are the most important working-age demographic in the region with the highest labor-force participation rate — more than 68 percent in 2015. And they hold 54 percent of all primary jobs across the Hudson Valley.  Also in 2015, Hudson Valley residents with more than one job increased; the majority of multiple job holders were aged 30-54, followed by workers 55 and older. Huebner Caridi says this latter age group reflects a trend that points not only to an aging baby boomer demographic, but also to an impact the recession had on retirement security.  

The report, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, is entitled, “Commutation Trends in the Hudson Valley,” and examines the years 2013-2015. Seven Hudson Valley counties are included: Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.