Economy

Analysis: Is New York's jobs market an asterisk?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The U.S. economy added more than 500,000 jobs in January, significantly defying expectations amid concerns in the private and government sectors of an economy and sharply increasing interest rates.

But in New York, a very different picture on the jobs front has been the theme since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic: Jobs have slowly come back, and the state may not recoup all of the 2 million jobs lost in the immediate shutdown in March 2020 for several more years.

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Budget watchdog gives mixed review of Hochul's spending plan

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed state budget is getting mixed reviews from one budget watchdog.

“One of the first things that jumped off the page and has big implications for the budget is the expectation of a mild, short recession in the first half of 2023,” Patrick Orecki, director of state studies at the Citizens Budget Commission, told Capital Tonight. “But the budget does plan for it.”

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Counties could lose big if Hochul’s state budget is enacted

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

If Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget passes as is, New York's counties will be among the spending plan’s biggest losers.

“The governor is looking to intercept almost $300 million in federal funds earmarked for local taxpayers,” said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).

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Hochul wants to create new state office for semiconductor industry

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul in her executive budget proposal Wednesday laid out a plan to create the first-ever Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management and Integration following the announcement last fall that computer memory chip specialist Micron plans to invest $100 billion in Central New York.

The goal, Hochul said, is to make it easier for similar companies to make potential future similar investments in New York state.

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New York's unemployment rate stayed flat in December

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's unemployment rate did not budge in December from 4.3%, though the private sector increased its number of new jobs at a slightly faster rate than the rest of the country, the state Department of Labor on Thursday reported.

The state added 22,100 jobs in December, a 0.3% increase from November. Nationally, jobs in the private sector increased by 0.2%.

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Fewer than 4 in 10 New Yorkers earn a living wage, researchers find

BY Melissa Krull Central NY

Only about 39% of New Yorkers earn at least a living wage, and less than one-third of them are people of color and younger workers, according to researchers at Cornell University.

The information, which they made available in a new digital atlas, shows disparities in earning a living wage by race, ethnicity, gender and location.

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Watchdogs cheer return to oversight powers for New York comptroller

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Good-government organizations on Tuesday praised the restoration of oversight powers for the state comptroller's office which have been seen as a key safeguard against public corruption in New York.

Gov. Kathy Hochul's approval of the legislation was a condification of an agreement previously reached with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review state contracts for economic development programs.

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First legal retail cannabis sale made in New York, Hochul says

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced the first sales of legal, regulated adult-use cannabis in the state's history.

The governor's office said the first sale took place at Housing Works Cannabis Co. in New York City. The first purchase was made by Chris Alexander, executive director of New York's Office of Cannabis Management, a former advocate who spent years fighting for, and crafting the bill that legalized cannabis in the Empire State in 2021.

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Hochul casts doubt on return of gas tax holiday in 2023

BY Kate Lisa New York State

The state isn't expected to extend its partial gas tax holiday that expires New Year's Eve, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday.

Lawmakers included a six-month suspension of about 16 cents per gallon in state excise and sales taxes, meaning New Yorkers will see their gas prices increase in the New Year.

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State's legal cannabis sales to start Dec. 29 in NYC

BY Maya Rajamani and Kate Lisa New York State
UPDATED 7:58 PM ET Dec. 21, 2022

The first legal adult-use cannabis sales in the state will start Dec. 29 at Housing Works Cannabis Co., members of the state Cannabis Control Board announced Wednesday.

Housing Works, a New York City-based nonprofit, will open Housing Works Cannabis Co. — the state’s first legal adult-use cannabis dispensary — next week at 750 Broadway in Manhattan.

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Medpace expansion brings hundreds of jobs to Cincinnati 

BY Camri Nelson Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — More than a thousand new jobs will soon open up in one southwest Ohio city. And it’s all thanks to the expansion of Medpace, a clinical contract research organization.

A press conference was held Wednesday at Medpace to announce their expansion project. It will include 1,500 new jobs with a payroll of $90 million over six years.

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New York’s business community weighs in on climate plan

BY Nick Reisman and Tim Williams New York State

On Monday, the state’s Climate Action Council approved a scoping plan that will serve as a blueprint for the Empire State to reach its ambitious climate goals.

Ken Pokalsky, vice president at The Business Council of New York State, told Capital Tonight that there are a lot of unknowns when its comes to the cost for businesses and as more businesses learn about the changes needed, there will be some “shock and alarm.”

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Christmas tree demand remains high despite inflation

BY Associated Press Nationwide

For all the worries about inflation and the economy, Americans aren't scrimping on a centerpiece of many celebrations this holiday season: the Christmas tree.

Retailers from Home Depot and Lowes to mom and pop operations raised their prices on trees — but people are still buying them.

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New York's unemployment rate was unchanged in November

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The private sector in New York added 19,600 jobs in November as the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3%, the state Department of Labor on Thursday announced.

New York's private sector job growth increased by a modest 0.2%, but matched the the nation as a whole in November.

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Hochul says no to tax increases in the next budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul pledged to hold the line on tax increases in the coming state budget talks, saying Thursday at a news conference doing so would go against efforts to reduce the tax burden made earlier this year.

But at the same time, Hochul and outgoing Budget Director Robert Mujica acknowledged the state budget could pose a challenge next year given the broad uncertainty over the economy and the potential of tipping toward a recession even as tax revenue currently remains strong.

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Sales tax revenue in New York remains up, as do prices

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sales tax revenue continued its months-long growth in New York, increasing by 8.8% in November compared to the same time a year ago as inflation continues to play a role in the prices consumers are paying.

Though inflation has cooled somewhat in recent months, local tax collections reach $1.72 billion, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office.

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Cannabis industry continues to face questions in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's retail cannabis industry is still in its infancy, but regulators are already making changes that are meant to enable home delivery.

At the same time, lawmakers are worried the current penalties for selling cannabis without a license will undermine the burgeoning marketplace, which is expected to be a multibillion-dollar sector of the economy.

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Hochul administration launches effort to boost New York farms

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state is launching a multi-agency effort to boost the agriculture sector, with an eye toward reviewing how farms are dealing with transportation, labor and housing issues.

Farms have faced a variety of challenges in New York over the last several decades, with many agriculture operations like dairy producers getting larger and many choosing to leave the industry.

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New York considers more regulation of virtual currency

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state financial regulators are weighing new regulations for virtual currency businesses as the sector has fallen under scrutiny following the implosion of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

The proposed regulation by the Department of Financial Services in New York would establish how licensed virtual currency businesses are assessed for costs of their supervision and examination. The move would activate a provision in the state budget that allows regulators to collect oversight costs from these businesses, similar to how other financial institutions in New York are covered.

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Reform groups want more transparency in economic development

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Good-government organizations on Tuesday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to approve a measure that's meant to expand transparency requirements for economic development in New York.

The measure, if approved, would require community advisory committees, which play a role in helping shepherd and oversee economic development projects, to open their meetings to the public.

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Crypto industry ponders what's next after New York's proof-of-work moratorium

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul wants the crypto-based industry to flourish in New York, but she said Monday it can't come at the expense of the environment.

"I have said I support the crypto industry," Hochul said Monday. "It does not mean they have to be using our limited resources here in upstate New York to do the mining."

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New law will provide more debt relief to young farmers in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

College graduates who are pursuing careers in agriculture are in line for expanded student debt relief under a measure approved by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The new measure is meant to give more students eligibility under a program meant to encourage young people to becomes farmers.

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New York's pension fund dipped in value amid volatile market

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's common retirement fund has lost billions of dollars in value since April, a reflection of the ongoing troubles facing the financial markets.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office on Tuesday announced the fund was valued at $232.2 billion at the end of the second fiscal quarter on Sept. 30, posting a negative rate of return at 3.85%. Still, despite the ongoing challenges, DiNapoli said the fund remains built to withstand the economic uncertainty.

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New York comptroller thinks $11B in unemployment fraud 'could have been avoided'

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

In February 2021, the New York state Department of Labor under Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a press release lauding the roll-out of a new anti-identity theft software program called “ID.me." The sub-headline stated, “Since the start of the pandemic, New York State has prevented more than $6.4 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits…”

Fast-forward to November 2022.

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New York lawmaker wants to encourage 'made in America' shopping on Cyber Monday

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A New York state lawmaker is trying to encourage more people to buy American-made products and wants to enlist large online retailers this holiday season.

Republican Mark Walczyk, a North Country Republican who is currently in the state Assembly and was elected to a state Senate seat this month, is urging Amazon to create a "Made in the U.S.A" filter on its website ahead of Cyber Monday.

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How sound is New York's budget? Depends on who you ask

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Is New York's state budget in good or bad shape? How to view it, ultimately, may come down to who you listen to.

For Republicans, the budget is beset with pressure from inflation and other global problems that will squeeze taxpayers. Progressives are taking a more optimistic approach, pointing to better-than-expected revenue from taxes amid a shaky worldwide economy.

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New York's unemployment rate ticks back up as labor participation grows

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York added 3,700 jobs in the private sector last month, but the unemployment rate ticked upward in October, the state Department of Labor on Thursday announced.

The state unemployment rate grew from 4.3% in September to 4.4%. The national unemployment rate in October stood lower than New York at 3.7%.

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New York lawmakers, small business owners call unemployment fraud audit 'jaw dropping'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Scammers made off with an estimated $11 billion in fraudulent unemployment payments, and small business owners in New York are, in part, carrying the burden.

"You can't function that way and the state can't function that way," said Rod Dion, the owner of an office furniture supply business in Cohoes outside of Albany. "To just blow that kind of money, it's just mind boggling if you think about it."

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New York sales tax revenue continues growth

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sales tax revenue continued to grow in New York despite gas tax holidays at the local level in full swing — a sign that inflation continues to play a role in the prices consumers are paying.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapol's office on Wednesday announced sales tax collections increased by 14.1% in October compared to the same time a year ago.

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Rising food costs take a bite out of Thanksgiving dinner

BY Associated Press Nationwide

In early November, Hays Culbreth's mother sent a poll to a few family members. She said she could only afford to make two sides for their group of 15 this Thanksgiving and asked them each to vote for their favorites.

Culbreth guesses green beans and macaroni and cheese will make the cut, but his favorite — sweet potato casserole with a brown sugar crust — will not.

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New York lawmakers seek gas tax holiday extension

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Earlier this year, state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul agreed to suspending the collection of about 17 cents per gallon in gas taxes. But as gas prices tick back up, there are bipartisan calls from state lawmakers to extend a suspension of New York's gas tax.

The question is how far lawmakers want to go.

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CBCNY: New York's mid-year budget picture not as bad as expected

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The Hochul administration released its mid-year update to the enacted budget last week.

According to Patrick Orecki, director of State Studies for the Citizen’s Budget Commission (CBCNY), the November update is particularly important because it serves as the final guidepost before the executive budget is released in January.

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What an economic downturn could mean for New York's budget — and New Yorkers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More than a decade ago, the administration of New York Gov. David Paterson was consumed by the global recession and fiscal crisis that spared no one, including the state's main economic engine on Wall Street.

A dozen or so years later, officials and budget analysts have taken away different lessons from Paterson's efforts, and subsequently Andrew Cuomo's budgets, to right the state's fiscal ship.

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Mobile sports betting in New York surpasses half a billion dollars in tax revenue

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 12:49 PM ET Nov. 09, 2022

Wagering on sporting events in New York has become a big business for mobile gambling companies — and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue reflects it.

Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Wednesday reported $542 million through the end of October, making New York the highest-earning state for mobile sports betting.

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Job growth remains ‘relatively strong’ despite Federal Reserve actions

BY Susan Arbetter and Tim Williams New York State

As New Yorkers head to the polls Tuesday, one of the most pressing issues for voters has been the increasing cost of living and the state of the economy.

Russell Weaver, a quantitative geographer and director of the Cornell ILR Buffalo Co-Lab, told Capital Tonight that Friday’s jobs report showed higher than expected job growth albeit slowed down from the beginning of the year, despite interest rate changes from the Federal Reserve.

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State budget talk is barely discussed in race for New York governor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Debates over how to address crime and abortion rights have dominated the conversation in the race for governor of New York as Republican Lee Zeldin and Democrat Kathy Hochul seek to motivate voters to the polls by Tuesday.

But there has been little public airing of what either candidate will do with what will take centerstage in Albany in about three months: How to spend some $200 billion or so of taxpayer money.

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Zeldin talks his potential budget plan if elected New York governor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Tax and spending cuts would be on the menu under a potential Lee Zeldin administration in Albany, the Republican nominee for governor on Wednesday said.

Zeldin at a news conference in New York City at his campaign headquarters acknowledged a spending plan — the first Republican-written document to land on lawmakers' desks in Albany in more than a decade and a half if he wins — would likely be a difficult one for Democrats in the Legislature.

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As Dems, GOP grapple on economy, Los Angeles port czar says backlogs largely back to normal

BY Cassie Semyon and Justin Tasolides Washington, D.C.

As Republicans and Democrats have skirmished over the economy on the campaign trail, port bottlenecks – a major driver of supply chain woes and inflation – have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to Los Angeles' port chief.

“We've taken the backlog of ships from 109 in January of this year, down to the low single-digits," Gene Seroka, Chief Executive of the Port of Los Angeles, told Spectrum News in an interview Monday. "As of this morning, there were three ships lined up to come into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach."

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Onondaga County executive touts bipartisan effort to bring Micron to CNY

BY Susan Arbetter and Tim Williams New York State

President Joe Biden made another trip to upstate New York on Thursday to tout the long term investment that Micron, a chip manufacturer, is making in the Central New York region. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, a Republican, said leaders on the federal, state and local level “put politics aside” to help get this deal over the finish line.

McMahon told Capital Tonight that the visit from the president was a “community-wide celebration” of four years of work to get investment in the White Pines Commerce Park. Micron will invest $100 billion in the Clay based commerce park over the next 20 years to build a chip manufacturing plant.

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Touting Micron in Syracuse, Biden says CNY 'poised to lead the world in advanced manufacturing'

BY Luke Parsnow Syracuse

President Joe Biden was in Syracuse Thursday to celebrate Micron Technology’s plan to invest $100 billion over the next 20-plus years to build a leading-edge memory megafab, saying Central New York “is poised to lead the world in advanced manufacturing.”

Flanked by U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Gov. Kathy Hochul, the president visited Onondaga Community College, which along with the county, will invest $10 million, with Micron investing $5 million over 10 years, to build and outfit a “clean room” and support development of the school's technical curriculum.

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As Biden visits to tout Micron, Lee Zeldin hits New York's business climate

BY Luke Parsnow Syracuse

As President Joe Biden, Gov. Kathy Hochul and other political leaders gathered in Syracuse Thursday to mark Micron’s first steps to invest $100 billion over the next 20-plus years to build a leading-edge memory megafab, Republican candidate for governor Lee Zeldin criticized the state’s business climate.

Zeldin, a congressman from Long Island, was also in Syracuse Thursday morning to discuss crime at an apartment complex with a troubled past.

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New York House Republicans urge reversal of farm labor overtime change

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Rep. Elise Stefanik's office on Wednesday is releasing a letter to state labor officials calling for a reversal of New York's plan to lower the overtime threshold for farm workers from 60 hours a week to 40.

Republicans who represent New York in the House of Representatives sent the letter as part of the public comment period before the change goes into effect by the end of the year.

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New York unemployment rate dips, remains above national average

BY Kate Lisa New York State

New York state's unemployment rate is one-third of what it was compared to this time last year at 4.3%, but remains higher than the national average, according to unemployment data for September released by the state Department of Labor on Tuesday.

The state's local area unemployment rate averages 4.3% for September, down from 4.7% in August, according to the Labor Department. But the U.S. averages a rate of 3.3% unemployment for September. The national average was 4.6% one year ago — more than a percentage point lower than New York's unemployment rate of 5.7% in September 2021.

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New York tax climate ranked second-to-last

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state's business tax climate continues to receive low marks from a national fiscal watchdog organization, according to a new ranking released on Tuesday.

The state's overall tax climate ranks 49th out of 50 states, between California (ranked 48th) and neighboring New Jersey (50th).

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Survey: New York farmers consider cost reductions amid overtime expansion

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York farmers are considering ways of reducing overhead costs — including tighter controls over the number of hours employees work and spending more on machinery to produce efficiency — amid a planned expansion of overtime for workers, a Cornell University survey found.

A majority of specialty crop producers, 71%, as well as 66% of dairy producers, expect to implement reduced costs for labor costs. Forty-six percent of dairy producers also expect to invest in equipment meant to increase labor productivity.

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President Biden to visit Syracuse Thursday amid Micron site announcement

BY Luke Parsnow Central NY

President Joe Biden will visit Syracuse Thursday to see where computer memory chip specialist Micron Technology plans a $100 billion investment in the region to build a chip manufacturing facility and create thousands of jobs, Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed Friday.

Micron announced two weeks ago it will spend that money over a 20-year period on a new megafab at the White Pine Commerce Park, a 1,200-acre site near Caughdenoy Road and state Route 31 near Syracuse. The company plans to build four 600,000-square-foot “clean rooms," which will be roughly 40 football fields in size, making it one of the largest construction projects in North America with construction spending of $31 billion and 5,600 related construction jobs. About 9,000 jobs will be created for people working directly for Micron.

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New York's unemployment rate dropped in September

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's unemployment rate dropped in September from 4.7% to 4.3% driven in large part by New York City, which has struggled to grow jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Department of Labor on Thursday announced New York had added 17,400 private-sector jobs last month, increasing by 0.2% — roughly the same rate across the country.

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New York labor officials: Web security strengthened for unemployment benefits

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York Department of Labor officials on Tuesday pointed to efforts meant to bolster security when people apply for unemployment benefits after billions of dollars in fraud was reported during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state is deploying a multi-factor authenthication requirement, which uses multiple methods for when a peson logs on such as a tent message code or a push notification on a mobile app in order to confirm an identity.

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New York business owners say post-reopening has been challenge

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Adine Viscusi's third generation family business in Schenectady manufactures sauce — and the cost of doing business has only gotten more expensive while supply chain problems have also created snarls.

"The cost of goods are going up. Everything has exponentially increased for us in terms of costs of goods," she said. "A lot of those things we've had to pass onto our customers, which is unfortunate because it means a higher price at the grocery store."

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Hochul signs laws to boost women and minority-owned businesses

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A trio of bills approved Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul are meant to strengthen minority and women-owned businesses in New York, her office announced.

The bills come as New York has topped its goal of at least 30% of state contracts being awarded to minority and women-owned businesses this year. The contracts amount to $3 billion for the businesses, known as MWBEs.

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WNY prepared to submit tech hub bid when application period starts

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A regional collaboration spanning the Western New York and Rochester areas has been in the works for well over a year, even before the federal government passed the CHIPS Act.

Invest Buffalo Niagara CEO Tom Kucharski said while Congress has now passed the bill, the organization is still waiting on regulations.

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New York lawmakers want more restrictions eased on Canadian travel

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic lawmakers in Congress are urging the Biden administration to further ease cross-border travel restrictions after Canada lifted travel regulations earlier this week.

Border communities near Canada have struggled economically during the pandemic as travel was limited. Canada on Oct. 1 lifted COVID-19 related rules for testing and vaccinations.

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More New York Democrats call for small farm suspension from overtime threshold reduction

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Democratic state lawmakers who initially supported reducing the overtime threshold for farm workers to 40 hours are suggesting ways to ease the burden of the coming change on small farmers.

They joined a handful of other upstate Democrats on Tuesday to highlight their concerns about state Labor Department Commissioner Roberta Reardon’s decision Friday to phase in the overtime changes over the next decade and put farm workers on par with other U.S. labor industries.

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Why a minimum wage increase upstate could lead to further hikes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gas, housing and groceries: The staples of living and working are increasing for workers as inflation continues apace in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers, too, are seeing higher prices affect their bottom lines: Energy and fuel costs are skyrocketing as are the cost of materials and labor.

It's against that backdrop that New York labor officials are proposing a $1 increase in the minimum wage for counties north of Westchester. If given final approval, the wage would reach $14.20 by the end of the year.

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Farmworker overtime threshold to drop to 40 hours a week in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Farmworkers in New York will eventually qualify for overtime pay after working 40 hours in a week under a new rule announced Friday by state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon.

The move was not unexpected and came after a wage board at the Department of Labor had recommended the expanded overtime for farmworkers.

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New York labor commissioner backs an increase to minimum wage upstate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The minimum wage north of Westchester County could increase by $1 to $14.20 by the end of the year under an order issued by New York Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon on Friday.

Final approval for the wage increase must still be considered through the rule-making process and is subject to a public comment period.

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New York advances plan to end gas vehicle sales by 2035

BY Nick Reisman and Zack Fink City of Albany

Regulations are being advanced that will end the sale of gas-powered vehicles in New York by 2035, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced.

If given final approval, New York would join California in the effort to transition to electric vehicles by the middle of the next decade.

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Voters focus on economy in race for New York governor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A debate over the direction public safety should take in New York has dominated the race for governor. But with rising consumer prices and a tanking stock market, economic concerns are increasingly coming to the forefront in the race.

A Siena College poll released Wednesday found half of voters picked the economy as their top issue this election season, with crime falling to third behind threats to democracy.

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Hochul: Overtime boost could help farm labor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Expanding overtime for farmworkers to kick in at 40 hours a week could help broaden the labor pool of agriculture workers in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday said.

The pending decision to lower the overtime threshold from 60 hours a week to 40 is not expected to be made for several weeks by state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. But Hochul on Wednesday in a news conference said there would be benefits in doing so.

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Federal pandemic aid has helped local government budgets

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Economic storm clouds are getting bigger on the horizon, and top agency leaders in New York state government are already being asked to tighten their belts.

But despite the fragile and volatile financial picture, local governments in New York are flush with money. The brighter financial picture is due, in part, to the federal pandemic aid sent to communities around the country, as well as rapidly growing sales tax revenue.

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Uncertain economic times could have political impact in November

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Federal Reserve has raised its interest rate five times.

Last week, for the third consecutive time, the hike was three-quarters of a point. At the same time, the Fed chair admitted he's not sure if the central bank's actions will help the U.S. avoid a significant recession.

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New York launches unemployment fraud crackdown

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York is launching an effort to curtail unemployment insurance scams following an investigation that found $11 million in fraudulent benefit payments made last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said.

The scale and scope of the fraudulent benefits underscores the massive amount of money sent out the door meant to help people during the initial months of the COVID pandemic. A record $19 billion was spent amid a spike in joblessness during the initial closure of business, schools and other public gathering spaces.

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Zeldin, vowing to cut taxes, wants to assess Medicaid program

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Rep. Lee Zeldin wants to cut taxes as governor.

If he had his way, he told a group of business leaders at an annual gathering in the Adirondacks on Friday morning, he would end the estate tax and even the personal income tax, the state budget's main revenue generator.

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Hochul: Federal government should waive interest on unemployment debt

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The federal government should waive the interest on the billions of dollars in unemployment debt New York accrued during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday said.

In the meantime, the interest on the debt from the unemployment insurance benefits will be shouldered by employers in the state, with an increase taking effect in the coming weeks.

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Report finds more data may be needed to assess payroll industry in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

At the root of the four payroll fraud cases in New York over the last decade was the diversion of taxes and phony reports filed to the Internal Revenue Services and their clients, a report released this week by state financial regulators found.

But more information on the industry may be needed to generate potential reforms, state lawmakers on Thursday said.

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What the Federal Reserve's raising of interest rates means for New Yorkers

BY Tim Williams New York State

In an attempt to fight back against high inflation, the Federal Reserve substantially raised interest rates, which means higher rates for many consumer and business loans. Sean Leonard, chief investment officer at Graypoint, told Capital Tonight that these rate levels haven’t been seen since the early 2000s. Leonard adds the higher rates could cost lower wage earners that are homeowners or who have credit card debt the most.

Inflation has hit the American wallet hard with the prices of everything from food to cars rising and forced Americans to cut back to make ends meet. According to Leonard, the cost to buy a house is nearly 70 to 80% higher than it was in early 2021 thanks to higher interest rates and the housing boom.

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Making sense of how economic data is collected

BY Tim Williams New York State

The economy is sure to be one of the major issues in this year’s midterm elections. But how does the New York Department of Labor get the data to calculate the unemployment rate and what does it all mean?

Russell Weaver, a quantitative geographer and director of research at the Cornell ILR Buffalo Co-Lab, joined Capital Tonight on Monday to help sort it all out.

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Retail cannabis stores on track to start opening in New York by the end of 2022

BY Tim Williams New York State

Nearly a year and a half after the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was signed into law, Chris Alexander, executive director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, told Capital Tonight that the office is working on licensing retailers for the legal cannabis market with a prioritization on small and medium businesses. Alexander said the first retailers are “fully on track” to open by the end of 2022 with more on the way in the new year.

Included in the legalizing legislation was a provision aimed at lessening the disproportional impact of marijuana prohibition by having people with connections to a prior marijuana conviction be included in the first wave of licensing. According to a recent Siena poll, 54% of New York voters are against this policy and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin has criticized the policy.

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How employment for people with developmental disabilities can be boosted

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York State Industries for the Disabled President and CEO Maureen O'Brien has been on a mission to help expand the employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities.

"The more that private businesses as well as state government know the benefit of employing people with disabilities, the better this will be," O'Brien said.

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New York's unemployment rate increased in August

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Hiring once again slowed in August as New York's unemployment rate ticked upward, the state Department of Labor on Thursday announced.

The unemployment rate statewide increased from 4.3% to 4.7%. The increase was largely led by New York City, where unemployment increased from 6% in July to 6.6% in August, according to Department of Labor data.

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NY lawmakers, advocates want pressure for developing nations' creditors

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

For the Rev. Nicolle Jean-Simone, helping her husband's native Haiti often comes from personal pleas.

"We receive calls from family members, friends, missionaries telling us the needs of what's going on in the country and we do our very best to support them," she said. "But what if we could do it also through legislation."

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Stefanik opposes credit card tracking for gun purchases

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik released a letter on Wednesday questioning the move to change a purchasing code that could make it easier for authorities to track gun purchases.

The change, made by an international regulatory body earlier this year, has been embraced by Democrats and supporters of stricter gun laws. But Republicans, as well as gun dealers and owners, have called the change an erosion of rights and privacy.

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New Yorkers may be spending less even as sales tax revenue is up

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sales tax collections in August increased by 12.6% compared to the same time last year even as New Yorkers are likely pulling back on spending in the wake of spiking inflation, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Wednesday said.

All told, statewide sales tax collections reached $1.7 billion in August, an increase of nearly $192 million.

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Nick Langworthy criticizes Biden administration over energy prices, inflation

BY Ryan Whalen West Seneca

WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- National Grid is forecasting typical customers will pay about $263 or 39% more than last year on natural gas between the beginning of November and end of March in order to heat their homes.

"That is a staggering increase that is simply unaffordable for many, many people across Western New York and the Southern Tier," Republican congressional candidate Nick Langworthy said.

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Former NY Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch on Kathy Hochul, the MTA and state's outmigration

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Richard Ravitch’s breadth of experience is enormous. He’s an economic policy expert and a board member of the Volcker Alliance. He served as New York lieutenant governor under David Paterson. He was the former head of the MTA, a former chief labor negotiator for Major League Baseball and one of the handful of people who helped save New York City from going bankrupt in the 1970s.

Much of this is detailed in this 2014 book, "So Much to Do: A Full Life of Business, Politics, and Confronting Fiscal Crises."

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New grant helps connect underserved communities in the Cincinnati area

BY Camri Nelson Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — The U.S. Department of Transportation reported nearly 160 pedestrians were killed in Ohio in 2020 alone. A federal infrastructure grant is helping cities across the country increase mobility and pedestrian safety.

A $20 million RAISE grant was the main topic of discussion at the City of Cincinnati's Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting on Tuesday. Council member Meeka Owens said the money will help the city fund a major infrastructure project in Cincinnati’s West End, Queensgate and Lower Price Hill neighborhoods.

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New York Republicans mobilize against farm worker overtime change

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More than a dozen New York Republicans running for Congress or are current incumbents in the House of Representatives are backing an effort to block the state from lowering the overtime threshold for farmworkers from 60 hours a week to 40.

The legislation, backed by Reps. Chris Jacobs and Elise Stefanik, has the backing of the state's House delegation as well as 10 Republicans running for a congressional seat this November.

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New York lawmakers want to exempt student loan relief from taxes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation that would formally exempt federal student debt relief from state taxes.

The bill, backed by Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, state Sen. Brad Hoylman and state Sen. Kevin Thomas, would codify the policy set by the state Department of Taxation and Finance to not count as income the debt relief following a plan announced last month by President Joe Biden.

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New York Assembly Agriculture Committee chair: Washington needs to step in on behalf of farmers

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York farm workers are one step closer to getting paid overtime after 40 hours of work, but the chair of the state Assembly Agriculture Committee is not happy about the change.

The New York Farm Laborers Wage Board submitted its final report to the New York State Labor commissioner on Tuesday. Two of the three members of the board voted to gradually phase-in the 40-hour threshold, putting farm workers in line with every other category of U.S. worker.

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Wage Board recommends DOL chief accept 40-hour overtime threshold for New York farm workers

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Farmers and advocates will continue to push New York state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon to see things their way after the Farm Laborers Wage Board submitted its final report to the commissioner Tuesday, voting to recommend reducing the state overtime threshold for farm workers to 40 hours.

The three-member board, with chair Brenda McDuffie, former president and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League; New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher; and Denis Hughes, former state AFL-CIO president; voted 2-1 in what may be the trio's final meeting late Tuesday afternoon. They voted to submit the report recommending a gradual phase-in of the 40-hour threshold down from 60 hours over the next decade.

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Opponents to New York farm overtime reduction make final effort days before vote

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Farmers and upstate New York lawmakers are pounding the drum in a final effort to urge the state Labor Department commissioner to reject a proposal to reduce the overtime threshold for farm workers to 40 hours.

The Farm Wage Board will vote in a virtual meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and submit its final report to Labor Department Commissioner Roberta Reardon, expected to recommend reducing the overtime threshold over the next decade.

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New York comptroller: Pension contribution rates will increase for public employers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Contribution rates for public employers in New York are set to increase as Wall Street gyrations over the last several months have created headwinds for the state pension fund, New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office on Thursday announced.

The announcement, which will affect rates for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2023, is the latest example of how the ongoing economic uncertainty is leading to elected officials to take more cautious approaches.

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Rep. Higgins leads roundtable with focus on boosting WNY tourism

BY Ryan Whalen Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The Western New York domestic and international travel-related spending did see a major uptick between 2020 and 2021 when the U.S. Canadian border began to reopen.

However, Democratic U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins said it has not yet reached pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

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Financial headwinds continue for New York restaurants

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Many restaurant owners in New York are reporting increasingly worse financial conditions for the industry as their struggles continue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The survey results from a trade group, the New York State Restaurant Association, underscore the ongoing financial hardship for many restaurant owners and operators in the state, with 41% reporting their business conditions are worse than they were three months ago.

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Powell: Fed could keep lifting rates sharply 'for some time'

BY Associated Press Nationwide
UPDATED 11:13 AM ET Aug. 26, 2022

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell delivered a stark message Friday: The Fed will likely impose more large interest rate hikes in coming months and is resolutely focused on taming the highest inflation in four decades.

Powell also warned more explicitly than he has in the past that the Fed's continued tightening of credit will cause pain for many households and businesses as its higher rates further slow the economy and potentially lead to job losses.

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New York's pension fund took a beating in volatile market

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's pension fund in the first quarter of the state's fiscal year posted a negative rate of return amid a volatile financial scene nationally and across the globe.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office on Friday announced the fund posted a negative 8.24% return in the first three months of the fiscal year beginning April 1.

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Employers urge New York to fix unemployment insurance surcharge

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

When the COVID-19 pandemic first led to a closure of business, schools and other public gathering spaces, Rod Dion did something many employers couldn't do: He kept all his employees.

"One of the best and hardest decisions I did was to not let anybody go," he said during an interview at Tech Valley Office Interiors in Cohoes. "It was not easy."

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Hochul seeks to boost New York developmental disabilities workforce

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state officials are trying to boost the number of people who work with those with developmental disabilities through expanded credentialing and bonuses, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced.

The move is being powered by a $10 million agreement with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals over the next three years. It also comes as advocates for people with developmental disabilities have urged Hochul and state officials to continue to raise worker pay in the sector after a cost-of-living-adjustment plan was approved in the state budget.

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Hochul approves law to spur 'green' semiconductor manufacturing

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

It was a victory lap for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was able to usher through a $50 billion measure aimed at ramping up semiconductor and high-tech chip making in the U.S. and here in New York.

"If New York is to maintain and America is maintain its economic pre-eminence, we should be making semiconductors in Syracuse, not Shanghai," he said.

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Why upstate New York leaders hope CHIPS Act will build future

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The hopes for upstate New York becoming an epicenter of semiconductor manufacturing for the country are sky high following the approval of the CHIPS Act this week by President Joe Biden.

The high-tech sector in parts of Central New York and the Capital Region have had the groundwork laid for the last several decades as the U.S. seeks to boost its chip production in order to become more competitive with the rest of the world.

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State labor officials will study employment of transgender New Yorkers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State Department of Labor officials will conduct a study of the employment picture facing transgender people in New York as part of a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

"As the birthplace of the movement for LGBTQ+ equality, New York must always push forward to ensure all New Yorkers are treated with dignity and respect," Hochul said. "For too long, trans individuals -- especially in communities of color -- have faced significant obstacles to economic success. That's unacceptable. Thanks to this new law, New York will be able to study these inequities so we can develop the legislative solutions to eliminate them once and for all."

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Hochul approves law promoting New York's jobs bank

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bill creating a public awareness campaign for the New York State Job Bank was signed into law Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul in order to help promote employment in the state.

The measure is meant to boost the job bank as an online resource, part of the state Department of Labor, to help people seeking jobs with more than 250,000 positions in a variety of sectors.

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