Manufacturing in New York, A Critical Sector of the Economy

The Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY) last week announced a new research institute, the Manufacturing Research Institute. From MACNY’s news release:

“Our state’s manufacturing sector has long needed an in-state research institute dedicated to New York State manufacturing, and through the assistance of Senator Schumer and his colleagues, I am pleased we now can lead this worthy effort,” stated Randy Wolken, MACNY President. “In an increasingly competitive national and global market, it is critical our state have a dedicated resource to collect information and research that will assist in the long term success of our state’s manufacturing community.”

The Manufacturing Research Institute’s first report is, “Twenty-First-Century Manufacturing: A Foundation of New York’s Economy,” providing an historic and economic overview of the manufacturing sector in the Empire State. The conclusion:

Despite reduced employment counts, manufacturing remains a foundation of New York’s economy. Communities across Upstate are especially dependent on local factories, often for more than 25 percent of all private-sector payrolls. New York’s manufacturing sector is not as large proportionally as those in most other states — yet its high rate of value added in production and high-paid jobs make it possible for the state to retain its position as a national industrial leader.

More than ever, manufacturers are driven by exports, and count on markets far from home to survive and thrive. That leaves American companies subject to the influence of foreign currency exchange rates, international trade and taxation rules, and other factors that are difficult or impossible for individual companies or the state as a whole to influence.  At the same time, manufacturing in the twenty-first century is predominantly a high-tech sector — not only in obvious areas such as computer production but in much older industries as well — and thus one where change comes rapidly, continuously and dramatically.

In such a marketplace, survival and growth for New York manufacturers will depend on innovation and adaptation — continually finding new ways to improve products and reduce costs. For the state itself, creating and maintaining an environment conducive to solving such challenges may be the best way to promote a strong manufacturing sector for decades to come.

The study was conducted by Robert Ward of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the University of Albany.

Leave a Reply