Report: Schenectady, Saratoga counties’ market value grew in 2021

FILE - Downtown Schenectady
FILE - Downtown Schenectady
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CAPITAL REGION — New data shows regional market gains outdistancing neighboring economies during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gross regional product in the Albany metro area between 2020 and 2021 grew an inflation-adjusted 7.2% ($60,212,563), the highest rate increase in New York, according to a recent release from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. GRP measures the value of regional services and goods.

Schenectady County GRP growth outpaced all but one New York county and more than 140 others in the Northeast. Saratoga County ranked third in the state.

Combined, both markets valued more than $20 billion.

“Again, when you see numbers like this, it lends to the stability of the region and validates what we know — what we think we know,” said Katie Newcombe, chief economic development officer for the Center for Economic Growth.

Newcombe credited growth to industrial park development, as well as manufacturers such as BelGioioso Cheese, SI Group and Momentive for gains in Schenectady County. On top of it all is a burgeoning real estate market, which expanded 25.8%.

“It’s not one thing in Schenectady County,” said Newcombe. “They are growing in a number of different areas and they have a well-diversified economy.”

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An economic analysis of the BEA from the CEG data found Saratoga County’s gains ranking fourth statewide in manufacturing, fifth in private sector development and fifth in art, entertainment and recreation.

While Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus expects further growth this year, he worries that rising expenses and labor limitations could ultimately stifle progress.

“The trouble is that this data is about past performance during a time of great disruption in our world’s economy, and it’s impossible to determine whether we can sustain this success,” said Shimkus.

Nationwide, GRP rose in 2,404 counties, decreased in 691 and remained flat in 17. In 2020, GRP decreased in 2,234 counties, rose in 864 counties, and remained stagnant in 14 counties.

Par for the course, this was a comeback for the Albany metro area, which, for the first time in more than 20 years experienced losses of -3.2% in 2020 after gains of 5.8% in 2019.

Schenectady County’s 2021 growth rate in New York was only rivaled by Yates County, a sparsely populated stretch of the Southern Tier.

Depending on the scale and growth, smaller economies can grow comparatively faster with lower dollar investments. That doesn’t always buoy small jurisdictions like Hamilton County, which, at 1.6%, received the lowest annual growth in 2021.

“Some of them are larger than us, some of them are smaller,” Schenectady Metroplex Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said about the namesake county’s ranking among Northeast counties. “Maybe I’m just making too much of that, but 15 is still a great place to be out of 218 and second in the state.”

Here’s the growth rate of each greater Capital Region county between 2020 and 2021 adjusted for inflation:

  • Albany: 5.7%
  • Columbia: 4.4%
  • Rensselaer: 5.2%
  • Saratoga: 8%
  • Schoharie: 4.7%
  • Schenectady: 8.2%
  • Warren: 7.1%
  • Washington: 4.9%
  • Montgomery: 2.6%
  • Fulton: 4.1%
  • Greene: 5.4%

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.

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