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How the 24th Congressional District Candidates Promise Job Growth

What can the chosen candidate of New York’s 24th Congressional District do to bring more jobs and improve the economy in Central New York?  We’ve heard from the candidates on social security and on drug policy.  Today WAER’s Chris Bolt asks the candidates how they are trying to cope with a business landscape that’s constantly evolving.

One basic measure of the economy – and one that hits residents directly – is unemployment.  The August figure dropped to 4.5-percent for the Syracuse area, down from 5.0-percent a year ago.  That sounds pretty good… but can hide those not even looking. 

“There are population trends that impact that labor force number as well as such things as if people are going to school instead of participating in the labor force if they have a disability that prevents them from working.”  

State Labor Economist Karen Knapik-Scalzo sees certain business sectors that are thriving.

“We’ve seen job growth over the year in telecommunications which is a high paying sector that pays over 93,000-dollars a year here in Syracuse as well as the beverage products manufacturing sector that pays over 97,000-dollars a year.”

She also sees potential in education and health services jobs, especially as the population ages.  A state comptroller’s office report showed: overall in Central New York job growth is stagnant…an increase of only 0.3-percent since 2009 – even as the rest of the state has added jobs.  A few local programs seem to be working.  Jay Harrison is Employment Coordinator at Onondaga Community College.  He sees a lot of interest in the Advanced Manufacturing and Mechanical Technology program.

Jay Harrison, the Employment Coordinator at Onondaga Community College, has seen interest in the Advanced Manufacturing and Mechanical Technology program grow.

“If we have an adult learner they have options. The great thing about our Advanced Manufacturing Certificate program is that individuals interested in going further with their education they will use the Advanced Certificate program and enroll into our Associates program.”

The college also offers a Pathways to Careers program for those searching for a career field.

“This can be achieved through internships and job mentoring opportunities. We try to make sure our students have a great sense of what to expect in their career choice.... Also, it gives them that option of trying to figure out if this the right field for me.”  

The largest job losses in 20-16 have come from Administrative and Support Services, businesses that support other companies.  And Knapik-Scalzo adds manufacturing continues to suffer…though has a few bright spots.

“This month in August manufacturing was down 200 jobs over the year, but recently we have been seeing some upticks, especially within, for instance, our beverage product manufacturing sector have been increasing.”

24th Congressional District Candidate Democrat Colleen Deacon recalls when the local manufacturing industry unraveled over decades.

“Here in this region thousands of jobs leave over the last 30 years. May of the manufacturing jobs like Chrysler, General Motors, Carrier ­– and it’s been difficult. We have got to figure out a way to attract businesses to this region and keep them here.” 

Congressman John Katko, wearing a suit and tie, speaking on poverty
Current Congressman John Katko holds a talk addressing poverty. In order to improve the local economy, Katko plans on creating new tax-relief incentives for businesses.

Incumbent John Katko specifically blames NAFTA for forcing as many as 30-thousand manufacturing jobs out of the region.  He further blames corporate tax rates for pushing businesses away.

“You know when you have Ireland at 12-percent tax rate and the U-S at 35 to 39-percent, Canada at 15-percent, Mexico lower, and some of those countries like China that are wicked low tax rates for manufacturers – plus currency manipulation going on – it’s amazing we have any manufacturing here. But, if we fix the inequities we will do real well, I think.”

One type of regulation is in Deacon’s sights.  She recalls working in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office for more stringent oversight against illegal dumping of imports.

“There were some other countries that were dumping steel across the globe and it was hard to compete. We worked with Nucor Steel, a local steel manufacturer, to fight against those bad trade deals and we were successful.”

Headshot of Colleen Deacon outside
24th Congressional District Candidate Democrat Colleen Deacon looks to investments in infrastructure as a source for new jobs.

Deacon also takes credit for working with Gillibrand to secure millions of dollars to support the Institute for Veteran’s and Military Families at Syracuse University.  She predicts that will lead to more job creation.

“To help provide veterans with the tools and training they need to create businesses and become entrepreneurs, so you know that’s one way we can look at it. What can we do to provide dollars so we can give students and veterans the ability to start their own businesses?”

Katko’s targets for improving the economy and job creation are largely aimed at small businesses – lowering regulations.

“I’m all for making sure they do their job and (are) environmentally sound and stuff, but reining in regulation and making sure that when they institute these regulations that they’ve taken into account the economic impact. There’s also some bills passed this year like, for example, if it has more than a 100 million dollar economic impact on businesses and regulation, it has to be approved by Congress. If that gets passed, it will start reining in some of the overreach on the federal regulatory side.”

And he sees a need for more technical training, to better match unskilled workers with jobs that are there.

“Manufactures sometimes can’t afford – and businesses can’t afford – to take on a kid and train them. The unions do that, but why not have some sort of an incentive for businesses to do it – like a tax credit, for example – to take on a kid who’s unskilled but shows the right, raw talent? Give them the incentive to hire this person and train them up, you know, as opposed to just looking for someone who is already trained.”

Katko specifically mentions supporting community college program such as the one we heard about earlier at O-C-C.  He adds things such as saving the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Plant and reducing regulations on medical devices that helped Welch Allyn are ways to save and grow jobs.  Deacon can see more people being put to work if more investment was made in infrastructure.  She also touts public-private partnerships to kick-start growth in areas such as exporting. 

Proposals and promises on jobs and the economy can be the toughest on which to deliver.  They do however, have perhaps the most direct impact on people who might deciding for which candidate they should vote. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.