Since Unshackle Upstate was launched in 2006, our focus has been on improving the Upstate economy.  We have to constantly remind ourselves that the Upstate economy did not collapse overnight, and that we won’t be able to improve it overnight, either.

But we were particularly dismayed as we reviewed state Labor Department unemployment data and federal census data that were released this week, because it’s a reminder of the huge challenge Upstate New York faces in terms of turning our economy around.

The unemployment data released last week by the state Department of Labor shows that no area of the state had a decline in unemployment between January 2012 and January 2013.  In January, 35 counties had unemployment rates above 10 percent, compared to 25 that did so in January 2012, and the vast majority of those regions are in Upstate.

So it should probably come as no surprise that, according to census data released last week, 35 Upstate counties lost population between 2010 and 2012.  In contrast, New York City and its suburbs saw a population increase of 13% over the three years. Perhaps these numbers will help state lawmakers recognize what we’ve been talking about for the last seven years – that we need fundamental change in Albany in order to enable the Upstate economy to improve.