By Jim Davis
The Empire State rides on the highs and lows of the Big Apple.
On a spring day some 225 years ago, financial panic led a group of merchants
and stockbrokers in New York City to come together underneath a buttonwood tree, more commonly known now as a sycamore tree. The location was
The business group negotiated the terms and conditions of a speculative
market on May 17, 1792, in what is known as the Buttonwood Agreement.
From that initial meeting, the forerunner of the New York Stock Exchange
(NYSE) was born.
Today, it’s the largest stock exchange in the world. Nearly 4 billion shares are
traded daily by the more than 2,400 companies listed on the NYSE — ranging
from blue chip to high-growth companies that combined have a market
capitalization of $21.3 trillion. So, it’s no surprise that banking and financial
services is one of the foundations of the Empire State’s economy.
There are more than 330,000 financial-services workers in New York.
About 90 percent of the financial-services jobs in the state are located in
New York City. And these are well-paying jobs. The average annual wage
for bank jobs is about $137,300, or more than twice the statewide average
of $64,540. Securities and commodity jobs pay, on average, about $384,300
a year, or six times the statewide average annual wage, according to the
New York State Department of Labor.
Any discussion of the state of New York needs to separate New York City,
known as the Big Apple, from the rest of the state, however. New York City
has nearly 8. 6 million of the state’s 19. 8 million residents and fuels economic
growth for the state.
New York City is the largest office market in the U.S. The city also is a
major tourism draw and one of the reasons why the state ranks as the
fifth most-popular tourist destination in the U.S. That industry generated
$105 billion in revenue just in 2016.
The state has attempted to foster economic development in upstate
New York, spending billions of dollars to nurture the microprocessor-chip
manufacturing industry and other technology industries around the state
capital of Albany. One in 20 new inventions in the semiconductor industry
was patented in the region last year.
In 2013, the state launched an investment program called the Buffalo Billion
to spur development in Western New York. The state spent $750 million to
build and subsequently lease a plant to Tesla to manufacture solar panels.
As a whole, New York has the third-largest economy in the U.S., behind only
California and Texas. Major sectors other than banking and finance include
health care, professional and technical services, retail and food service, and
manufacturing. The state’s real gross domestic product grew at a 1.1 percent
pace last year, compared with 2.1 percent for the nation.
About 14 percent of the New York state population lives in poverty. n
What the locals say
“A lot depends on what happens with New York City,
because that’s where all the tax revenue is generated.
To the extent that New York City is growing and is
continuing to be an economic engine, that allows the
state to invest more money in other places and essentially
diversify. We want to have Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse
be engines of growth on their own, so they’re not as
dependent on New York City.”
Frederick G. Floss,
Professor and chair of economics,
SUNY Buffalo State
Home sales and prices
Both sales and prices for homes in New York have been on an upward
climb for the past few years, according to data from the New York State
Association of Realtors. (Not all of New York City is included in the
association’s data, however.) The number of townhomes, condominiums
and single-family houses sold in New York rose from 107,695 in 2013 to
134,066 in 2017. The median sales price also has been moving upward,
increasing from $225,000 in 2013 to $250,000 last year.
There are some signs of a softening housing market, however. New York
saw 57,735 closed sales through the first half of this year. That’s down
3. 8 percent from the first half of 2017. This past second quarter, in
particular, lagged behind past sales performance — with 5. 5 percent
fewer homes sold than in the same quarter in 2017. Housing prices
continued on an upward trajectory, however. The median sales price
through the first half of the year reached $262,500, up 8. 9 percent from
the first half of 2017.
Ne w York Home Sales
Source: New York State Association of Realtors
Home sales Median sales price
**Includes townhomes, condominiums and single-family housing;
does not include all of New York City
*Through August 2018