Introduction

Central New York is well known for having been built on a once-powerful industrial sector. Hundreds of companies employed citizens in Syracuse and surrounding areas at the height of its economic prosperity in the 1950s and 60s. Now, with many of those companies gone — between 2000 and 2003 alone, the region lost 20 percent of its manufacturing jobs — many residents find themselves facing a spatial and skills mismatch when seeking employment.

Economy & Arts Icon

Employment that provides livable wages helps a family afford safe housing, transportation, access to health care and a good quality of life. It also creates a stronger economy, leading to economic development and growth within our entire community. By providing opportunities for meaningful employment that ensure all people can provide for themselves and their families, we are stimulating the health and vibrancy of our region.

Similarly, a dynamic arts and culture landscape can engage residents, strengthen workforces and serve as an economic engine to the community. In 2012, the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study found that Greater Syracuse’s arts and culture industry generates more than $130 million in economic activity, supports more than 5,000 full time jobs, generates $110 million in household income and delivers $20 million in local and state government revenue.  By viewing our arts-related indicators, you are not only getting a glimpse into the well-being of our creative community, but also the health of Central New York’s economy.

Earnings & Income

Median Household Income by Family - Onondaga County

Median Household Income by Family - Madison County

Median Household Income by Family - Oswego County

Median Household Income by Family - Cayuga County

Median Household Income by Family - Cortland County

Median Household Income by Family - Syracuse

Median Household Income by Family - Oneida

Median Household Income by Family - Oswego City

Median Household Income by Family - Auburn

Median Household Income by Family - Cortland City

Per Capita Income Over Time - Onondaga County

Per Capita Income Over Time - Madison County

Per Capita Income Over Time - Oswego County

Per Capita Income Over Time - Cayuga County

Per Capita Income Over Time - Cortland County

Per Capita Income Over Time - Syracuse

Per Capita Income Over Time - Oneida

Per Capita Income Over Time - Oswego City

Per Capita Income Over Time - Auburn

Per Capita Income Over Time - Cortland City

Per Capita Income by Location - Onondaga County

Per Capita Income by Location - Madison County

Per Capita Income by Location - Oswego County

Per Capita Income by Location - Cayuga County

Per Capita Income by Location - Cortland County

Per Capita Income by Location - Syracuse

Per Capita Income by Location - Oneida

Per Capita Income by Location - Oswego City

Per Capita Income by Location - Auburn

Per Capita Income by Location - Cortland City

Let's Break It Down

Family incomes are slowly rising, but large differences remain.

Median household incomes by family size vary greatly by county. For instance, families of four have the highest median income in both Onondaga and Oswego counties at $91,072 and $75,870 respectively. Families of five held the highest median incomes in Madison and Cayuga Counties at just over $90,000 each.

Per capita income is determined by an area’s total income divided by its population. Per capita income comes out much lower than the median income. Per capita income has seen a steady rise between 2009 and 2015 in every county of Central New York, by about $2,000.

In 2016 in Onondaga County, the highest per capita income – $76,388 – was located within census tract 167, which includes the community of Skaneateles. The lowest census tracts in the county were within the city of Syracuse, with some coming in as low as $7,000.

The lowest per capita income in Madison County was $17,554 in tract 301.01, which is located in the city of Oneida. In Oswego County, the lowest per capita income was in Fulton’s Census Tract 211.1, coming in at $14,410. And in Cortland County, the lowest was $4,777 in Census Tract 9708, located inside the city of Cortland.

Why Does It Matter?

Low incomes decrease quality of life.

Income and wealth affects almost every aspect of life, often determining one’s life trajectory. With higher income and wealth comes more opportunity. Income is important; it provides the foundation needed for any individual or family to thrive. Without equitable wages, individuals will struggle to afford rent, food, utilities or medical care.

Disparities exist in income by both gender and race—disparities that we must be willing to talk about if we are to address them. Specifically in the city of Syracuse, census tracts with the highest populations of African Americans held per capita incomes between $7,300 and $12,000. Census tracts with the highest Caucasian populations in the city had per capita incomes between about $30,000 and $49,000.

Rural poverty is also a pervasive issue in the Central New York region, with many census tracts holding per capita incomes of around $20,000 to $25,000. Those living in some smaller cities also face these challenges. Census tract per capita incomes in Fulton range from $14,000 to $16,000, in Auburn from $10,000 to $25,000 and in Cortland from $4,700 to $28,000.

Residents with these low incomes hold lower purchasing power, often finding themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck, and may be struggling to maintain a comfortable quality of life for their families.

What You Can Do

Give input and get involved.

Whether you’re an experienced volunteer, an activist, a student, working professional, or a stay-at-home parent, there are roles both big and small that you can play to shape the future of the region.

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Unemployment

Unemployment Insurance Claims - Syracuse

Unemployment Beneficiaries - Syracuse

Let's Break It Down

Unemployment claims vary between city census tracts.

Unemployment insurance is temporary income for those who lost their jobs, are ready and able to work, and who are actively seeking employment on a weekly basis, according to the New York State Department of Labor. The number of new claims in Syracuse in March 2017 were low, with most census tracts having between five or 10 claims. The highest in the city was 21 claims in the Elmwood neighborhood census tract 57.

The number of people regularly receiving unemployment benefits makes up current beneficiary data. Throughout the city, most census tracts had between five to 25 unemployment beneficiaries as of March 2017. On the higher end, census tracts in the North Valley and the Northeast parts of the city had about 60 claims.

Why Does It Matter?

Unemployment rates indicate the economic health of an area.

Providing job opportunities for everyone in our community is critical for overall economic and individual well-being. Unemployment may be related to skills gaps, limited options for a person who was previously incarcerated, a lack of transportation to locations where jobs are available, or a lack of knowledge about employment opportunities.

Different types of unemployment include frictional, or temporary lack of work during the time it takes to search for a job, and structural, which is most pervasive as it often points to dying industries and a lack of available jobs. Structural unemployment in Syracuse is largely attributed to the loss of manufacturing industry jobs, which is common for all Rust Belt cities.

People who experience unemployment or underemployment may have to make choices about whether they put food on the table, pay rent, or purchase medicine. Having to decide between these essential items can impact physical health, the well-being of children and the overall stability of the family. A job that provides a livable wage lays the groundwork for a person or a family to thrive in our community.

Unemployment rates indicate the economic health of an area.

A Local Story

Setting Up for Success

When Jeff found himself homeless, he went to the Rescue Mission for a safe place to stay. What he ended up with was more life-changing support than he expected.


While living as a resident in 2008, he signed up for the Rescue Mission’s Willing to Work program, anxious to get his life back on track. In the program, Jeff routinely met with and learned from a job coach. 

In the same year that Jeff entered Willing to Work, the Rescue Mission saw almost 1,200 individuals enter its homelessness shelter. That, partnered with a long history of working with this hard-to-reach population to provide them with education and vocational services, put the organization in a strong and unique position to expand its work preparation services.

Jeff worked with his coach to prepare his resume, set up a voicemail for employer calls and to practice his interview skills. His coach often went out of his way to help, more than once driving Jeff to construction sites before dawn. After Jeff completed the Mission’s Maintenance Skills Track and honed his skills in automotive maintenance, his coach helped him secure a new position at Driver’s Village in Cicero – a job he still holds.

“Those at the Rescue Mission believed in me and gave me a chance to do what I knew I could all along,” said Jeff. “My coach was a positive force in my life. He reminded me that there really are good people out there who want to extend a hand to help people like me. It’s a beautiful thing.”

The guidance he received helped Jeff improve all aspects of his life. He reconnected with his son, continues to support himself and is enjoying the freedom of self-sufficiency.

“We are so proud of the men who work hard to make positive life changes,” said Carolyn Hendrickson, Rescue Mission senior philanthropy officer.

Over eight years since he started, Jeff is still working at Driver’s Village and has established himself as a motivated, hard worker. He has gained the respect and personal support of his coworkers and managers.

His successes have inspired other Rescue Mission residents to join the program and to want to change their lives, too.

As he steps up to his new role as a mentor and continues to make strides, Jeff lives his life like his motto: Take nothing for granted.

“I am living one day at a time, living life on life’s terms and life is good.”

Since 1887, the Rescue Mission has provided hope and independence for people who have lost just about everything. Regardless of what brought them there, each person who crosses their threshold in downtown Syracuse is welcomed, accepted, comforted and challenged to begin a new life.

“I am living one day at a time, living life on life’s terms and life is good.”

What You Can Do

Give input and get involved.

Whether you’re an experienced volunteer, an activist, a student, working professional, or a stay-at-home parent, there are roles both big and small that you can play to shape the future of the region.

See Additional Opportunities View All
Volunteer
Volunteer to support diversity in the work force through Northside UP Learn More »
Donate
Support Work Train workforce development program Learn More »
Take Action
Join a community action group Learn More »
Civic Engagement
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Arts Employment

Arts Employment - Onondaga County

Arts Employment - Madison County

Arts Employment - Oswego County

Arts Employment - Cayuga County

Arts Employment - Cortland County

Arts Employment - Syracuse

Arts Employment - Oneida

Arts Employment - Oswego City

Arts Employment - Auburn

Arts Employment - Cortland City

Let's Break It Down

Arts employment sees no consistent trends in the area.

The number of people employed in the arts, entertainment and recreation industries rose and fell sharply in each county between 2009 and 2015. Male employees outnumbered females by 330 in Onondaga County. Of the 1,702 art employees in Onondaga County, 636 were in Syracuse with males outnumbering female employees again.

In Madison County, there was a sharp decline in female arts employment from 2014 to 2015, after a steady rise previously. Male art-related employment has steadily increased in Cayuga County, but decreased for females.

Nationally, 2.45 million people were employed in the arts in 2016. Americans for the Arts reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers 11 occupational categories as part of the arts employment industry including architects, art directors, fine artists and animators, producers and directors, actors, choreographers and dancers, musicians and singers, announcers, writers, and photographers. Other jobs not included in the national data include art administrators and curators.

Why Does It Matter?

High arts employment signals a healthy economy.

Where there is an increasing number of people employed in art industries, it signifies that the region has a healthy economy. That is because arts-related jobs are often the first to suffer when the economy experiences a downturn.

In 2014, about 750,000 businesses in the US were creative industries, employing 3.1 million people.  Creative businesses include museums, architecture and design companies, symphonies, and theaters. Over two percent of all employees in the United States worked in the creative industries in that year.

Art industries have a greater economic impact in the Greater Syracuse area compared to regions of similar population size nationally. Arts-related nonprofits, culture organizations and their audiences spent over $133 million in 2010 in direct expenditure, much higher than the median of about $78 million from similar-sized regions. Art and creative industries also employed 5,117 people locally and generated over $20 million in government revenue at the local and state level, all according to Americans for the Arts’s Economic Prosperity Study IV.

A dynamic arts and culture landscape engages residents, strengthens workforces, and serves as an economic engine to revitalize communities. For Syracuse, a strong arts community can mean increased employment, and economic development where it needs it most.

What You Can Do

Give input and get involved.

Whether you’re an experienced volunteer, an activist, a student, working professional, or a stay-at-home parent, there are roles both big and small that you can play to shape the future of the region.

See Additional Opportunities View All
Volunteer
Volunteer to assist with ArtRage art exhibits Learn More »
Donate
Support local musicians through the Society for New Music Learn More »
Take Action
Join a community action group Learn More »
Civic Engagement
Join a board Learn More »

Arts Funding

Arts Grants - Onondaga County

Arts Grants - Madison County

Arts Grants - Oswego County

Arts Grants - Cayuga County

Arts Grants - Cortland County

Arts Grants - Syracuse

Arts Grants - Oneida

Arts Grants - Oswego City

Arts Grants - Auburn

Arts Grants - Cortland City

Let's Break It Down

Onondaga County received the majority of art grants in the region.

Of all five Central New York counties, the New York State Council on the Arts awarded Onondaga County the largest amount of grants in 2016. CNY Arts, which redistributes some of these funds, received $484,200. That year, CNY Arts awarded grants within its six-county region to address tourism and economic development; recipients included the CNY Jazz Arts Foundation, Syracuse City Ballet, and the Redhouse Arts Center. CNY Arts also awarded 27 grants to galleries, theaters, and visual and musical performance organizations toward project support. In addition, grants were awarded to schools, community organizations, and individual artists to support artistic learning experiences, accessibility to arts and cultural projects, and the creation of new work through community engagement.

In addition to the aforementioned funding to CNY Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts also awarded $1,155,706 to other Onondaga County arts and culture organizations. Stone Quarry Hill Art Park received 82 percent of Madison County’s $60,500 in grants from the Council. The Children’s Museum of Oswego and Ontario Center for the Performing Arts received $42,900 in Oswego County. A total of $239,640 was awarded in Cayuga County, with the Auburn Public Theater receiving most of the funds. The Cortland Repertory Theatre received all of the funding received from the Council in Cortland County with a total of $74,500.

Why Does It Matter?

Arts funding stimulates the economy.

According to Americans for the Arts, the creative and arts industry provides inspiration and enjoyment to residents, beautifies shared public spaces and strengthens the social fabric of our community. Its Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study demonstrates that the nonprofit arts and culture industry is also an economic driver — an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue and is the cornerstone of a region’s tourism industry. As tourists stay to attend art museums, concerts and festivals, they also spend money on hotel rooms, shopping, food and entertainment. A stronger creative arts community in a city can also lead to higher civic engagement, increasing community pride.

Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity every year— $61.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $74.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. The impact of this activity is significant; these dollars support 4.1 million U.S. jobs and generate $22.3 billion in government revenue.

Arts funding stimulates the economy.

A Local Story

A Call to Art

If the walls of ArtRage, The Norton Putter Gallery could talk, they would speak tales of economic disparity, social justice and environmental protection. The gallery focuses on creating a dialogue about these topics within the art world and beyond. 

Reminiscing about the gallery’s last 10 years, Founder and Director Rose Viviano and Community Engagement Organizer Kimberly McCoy say they sought to merge social justice and activism into a place where creativity could speak for itself.

Located on Hawley Avenue in Syracuse, ArtRage’s bold, red lettering hits you immediately while driving down the street. The art and text in the window is apt to entice your interest. Inside, painted concrete floors and industrialized piping fixtures and fans allow the ever-changing exhibits to take center stage. Most exhibitions, as Kim points out, are designed to create a conversation — difficult or free-flowing — about a time in our history, past and present.

The region’s tight-knit art community often comes together to inform Viviano and McCoy which artists are making waves locally, out of state, or even internationally.

“We attribute our longstanding success to the community,” said McCoy. “There are people out here doing the field work and looking out for us.”

ArtRage’s mission is to exhibit progressive art that inspires resistance and promotes social awareness, supports social justice, challenges preconceptions and encourages cultural change. It sets out to provide visitors with an experience that encourages the breakdown of boundaries so that people can see themselves in the work and then in one another.

Still The One, an exhibition by Douglas Lloyd, is an example of what ArtRage truly stands for and the message it exemplifies daily. Its photography features extraordinary women who have made change the old-fashioned way – elder women activists of Central New York. The exhibit aims to raise the question, “What exactly is ‘activism’ and where and how do we find it?”

Longevity is something that Viviano and McCoy are particularly proud of, too, especially as the gallery’s 10-year anniversary approaches.

Despite keeping the details of their celebration under wraps for now, Viviano is excited to share this much:

“The whole year will be spent celebrating our 10th anniversary,” she said. “There are a few different ideas floating around as to how to celebrate it, but it’s going to be something that we draw attention to all year regardless. We want to make a big deal out of it.”

McCoy notes that it is particularly hard to pin-point all the impacts they’re having, however, the countless conversations that she has with patrons that stop in and view the work is somewhat of a barometer.

“We judge on perspective. If someone comes up to us - years down the road - and says, ‘I remember this exhibition and it really had a big influence on my life or changed my perspective on something,’ then, I guess we did our job.”

What You Can Do

Give input and get involved.

Whether you’re an experienced volunteer, an activist, a student, working professional, or a stay-at-home parent, there are roles both big and small that you can play to shape the future of the region.

See Additional Opportunities View All
Volunteer
Sell tickets for Redhouse arts performances Learn More »
Donate
Donate historical artifacts to the Onondaga Historical Association Learn More »
Take Action
Join a community action group Learn More »
Civic Engagement
Join a board Learn More »