A new report has been issued on the economy of Essex County, New York. While it indicates the year round population is declining and Essex County is moving towards a tourism-based economy, most of the data doesn’t surprise the region’s economic leaders.
The 36-page “Essex County Profile: The People, Homes, and Economy of Essex County, New York” was issued by the Blue Line Group in Saranac Lake. It provides data for population, housing and the economic sectors of the rural Adirondack county. The report finds that Essex County’s median age is about 45, and there will be a minor decline in population of about 1.3 percent between 2010 and 2040. Health care and social assistance is the largest industry, but the accommodation and food services sector provide the greatest number of jobs.
The Adirondack Futures Project is developing multiple future scenarios for the Adirondack Park. Co-director Dave Mason says parts of the report have been commonly known and appeared in other reports. “The economy’s in pretty good shape relative to the rest of the North Country. Population has held up. Housing prices have held up. Incomes have held up. We’re lacking rental housing in a lot of towns. Our population skews older. Well, that’s true. They’ve got lots of statistics on the employment picture. It shows growth in tourism and health care. So there’s pieces of it that are doing quite well. It’s variable. There’s parts that aren’t doing so well and other parts that are doing just fine.”
The principal for the Blue Line Group was traveling and unavailable for an interview. Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President Jim McKenna explains that the Essex County Profile was not produced for any group, but was issued as a vehicle to show what the Blue Line Group can produce. McKenna found it intriguing as it separated the county specific data. “I get motivated with information like this. It’s already been helpful and I’ve used it in a couple of different situations. When it identifies that in many areas because of the hospitality industry our numbers are a little more positive than the rest of the North Country, that certainly backs up some of the things that ROOST has been saying. Number two, it helps us really identify areas that we have to pay more attention to. We have a special place that won’t necessarily fit standardized models and I think that this helps us establish that.”
Town of Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava chairs the Essex County Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee. He says the data in the report is not unexpected. The population has been between 38- and 40-thousand, and median age has held steady for years. “Within the Adirondacks as we’ve been saying since the inception of the Adirondack Park Agency, and I’m not shooting arrows at the agency, but we are different than the rest of the state. And it’s been very difficult, if not impossible, to attract any industry into the area. Tourism related jobs are jobs and they are needed obviously. But we also need some year-round jobs here that can pay decent wages. The focus has become through the years more of the business of job retention. We used to focus on job creation. Now it’s just keeping what we have.”
A link to the report: “Essex County Profile: The People, Homes, and Economy of Essex County, New York” is available here.