May 22, 2007
The Spitzers announce 'I Live New York,' an effort to keep young New Yorkers from leaving
Governor Eliot Spitzer and the first lady, Silda Wall Spitzer, have announced an initiative called "I Live New York" designed to stem the growing tide of young New Yorkers who leave the state and to create new job and business opportunities in New York.
Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of The Business Council, attended the Tuesday news conference at which the initiative was announced and thanked Mrs. Spitzer and the Governor for focusing on the needs of the Upstate economy.
"The problem our young people are facing isn't the weather, and it isn't the nightlife," Adams said. "They absolutely want to live in Upstate New York, but they need good jobs, affordable housing and livable communities, and they are not finding them. I thank the first lady for agreeing to spearhead this important initiative, which I believe is a necessary component of the Governor's larger economic revitalization plan."
The announcement came on the same day that The Business Council released results of a survey showing that graduating college seniors from Upstate New York strongly prefer to remain in Upstate and regard the quality of life Upstate very favorably, but expect great difficulty finding a job that will make that possible in the long term.
Some call the problem of young New Yorkers leaving a brain drain, Mrs. Spitzer said at a Tuesday press conference.
"It's even more than that," she said. "It is a community drain, a systemic problem that cuts across all aspects of life, not just breaking up close family networks, but also crippling our economy in places where there are fewer young people to buy homes, open businesses, start families and put down roots."
Mrs. Spitzer pointed to demographic analysis showing that the population of people ages 20-34 in the 52 Upstate counties decreased 22 percent from 1990 to 2000.
"More recent findings show that the departures have been accelerating," Mrs. Spitzer said. "Buffalo alone lost 22,000 young people in a four-year period ending in 2006."
Mrs. Spitzer announced that in conjunction with her initiative, she will host a September 18 summit at the State University of New York at Cortland. The summit, which will bring together lawmakers, business leaders, community leaders, will "target the obstacles that exist and identify ways to make staying in New York more attractive for young people."
"The good news is that we have a will and a common understanding of what these issues are," Governor Eliot Spitzer said. The Governor said that the I Live New York summit will bring a more human face to the issues of workers' compensation, energy costs, and property taxes.
North Carolina changed its economy from one based on tobacco, textiles and furniture to an economy focused on technology and innovation, the Governor said. "That is the sort of pivot we can make in our cities, and we will do it."
At the press conference, Adams discussed the Council's new survey, which shows that the availability of good jobs will be essential to efforts to keep young New Yorkers in New York.
"Business people know that jobs are the key here," Adams said. "That's because Upstate's business climate isn't what it should be, so our young people have a hard time finding work in their home communities."
As of May 21, the Council had received 1,006 responses to its online survey, including 760 from Upstate New York.
Key survey results include:
- Asked to compare the appeal of living in Upstate New
York to other parts of the country, Upstate respondents
overwhelmingly preferred Upstate New York -- assuming
equally good job opportunities.
Sixty-four percent of Upstate respondents listed Upstate New York as their first, second or third choice. By that measure, Upstate New York was preferred over "elsewhere in the Northeast" (55 percent of Upstate respondents ranked it in their top three), the south (39 percent), Downstate New York (44 percent), the west coast (38 percent), the mountain west (25 percent), the southwest (20 percent), and the midwest (11 percent).
- But more than half of Upstate New York respondents (54 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that there aren't enough good jobs available in Upstate New York in their chosen career.
- Upstate New York respondents singled out New York's high taxes as the key quality of life negative. More than six of 10 Upstate respondents (62 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that taxes are too high in Upstate New York, compared to only 14 percent who disagreed or strongly disagreed.
- Upstate New York respondents spoke very favorably about the quality in life in Upstate New York in several key areas: the safety of Upstate communities, the appeal of the scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities, the four-season climate. These respondents also disagreed that Upstate's costs of living are too high, that there are too few young people in Upstate New York to make life their appealing, and that recreational and cultural opportunities are too limited in Upstate New York.
- About three-quarters of Upstate respondents (74 percent) said they expect to live in Upstate New York immediately after they graduate from college, but only 28 percent said they expected to live in Upstate New York 10 years later. Only 16 percent said they expect to live elsewhere in the United States immediately after graduation, but more than one quarter (28 percent) said they expect to live elsewhere in the United States 10 years after graduation. Upstate respondents ranked the best job opportunity as the key driver in their first post-college career decision. Some 44 percent said they expect to go where they first find the best job opportunities in their chosen field. Another 37 percent said their first consideration would be to live near family, friends, and/or a significant other. Another 19 percent said they would choose to live in a place with an appealing quality of life, even if that affects their ability to get the kind of job they prefer.