Industry and Commerce in Cortland
8 April 2009
Industry and commerce have changed a lot from the past to present, and the present in Cortland County is not nearly doing as well as the past. One thing that makes the past different from the present is that the number of jobs in Cortland County has gone down. Now we have about 19,400 jobs when we used to have 19,600 in May 2005. Cortland County is still continuing to experience decline in manufacturing and still an increase in the service industry jobs. Most people are experiencing losses in income.
Minimum wages are a big problem. In the 1960’s, minimum wage was a living wage. That means people could afford regular homes and make enough money to pay all their bills without being on public assistance (welfare), government food stamps, and other charitable assistance. It’s nothing like that anymore. One person who works full time at minimum wage, which would be $10,712 a year, lives at the poverty level, and it’s not always their fault that they can’t get a good enough job anymore. The real value of minimum wage has declined 41% since 1968, and according to the New York State Coalition for Economic Justice, the living wage for a single person should be to $18,000. Non-profit agencies that primarily serve low-income clients are concerned that the minimum wage has changed only from $5.35 in 2004 to $6.00 in 2005, $6.75 in 2006 and $7.15 in 2007. This makes budgetary problems.
Another problem that has gotten a lot worse from past to present in Cortland would be that in the past, there used to be a lot more stores available for shopping. You would never have to drive to any of the malls and burn all your gasoline. Now bigger chain stores like Wall Mart, Price Chopper, etc on the outskirts of town have made it so that smaller stores in the downtown area went out of business. Some people were really upset by that, and they still are today. Many of people would rather just go to clothing stores and other types of stores in town. Now a lot of the stores that used to be available inside Cortland, New York, are all gone because they lost business to bigger stores that make more money. Some of these big stores are located in Cortlandville, a once rural area, located outside of Cortland. However, most people do at least some of their shopping now at big malls in Ithaca and Syracuse, cities at least a half hour’s drive from Cortland. The loss of stores in town has caused a loss of money in taxes to service the needs of Cortland and jobs for people who worked in downtown stores.
In 2001 Cortland was designated as an Empire Zone by New York State. The state invested 25.7 million dollars in production. In 1970, 47% of people were in manufacturing jobs. In 1980, 38% of people were in manufacturing jobs. In 1990, 45% of people were in manufacturing jobs. In 2000, 26% of people were in manufacturing jobs. In 2005 16% of people were in manufacturing jobs.
This trend shows that manufacturing jobs have gone down a lot.
Also In 1970, 53% of people were in service jobs. In 1980, 61% of people were in service jobs. In 1990, 68% of people were in service jobs. In 2000 81% of people were in service jobs. In 2005, 85% of people were in many service jobs. That also shows that the service jobs have gone up, and that’s not good at all. That’s not good because service jobs are mostly jobs that only make minimum wage. Minimum wage for New York is $7.15 and that usually leaves the people who only make minimum wage around this area in economic difficulty.
The decline in manufacturing happened because American laws let companies be able to shut down American factories and send the jobs overseas where workers get lower pay, fewer benefits, no union representation, and less safe working conditions. This is not good for U.S. workers who lost their jobs, but it is also not good for foreign workers who are not being treated fairly. Now many manufacturing jobs are going down. Some service jobs are in banks and hospitals that we need in our community. However, most service jobs are minimum wage jobs in big chain stores like Wal-Mart and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s. Now since many residents of our community are not making as much money as they once were, it’s hard for the stores to stay in business.
This is why our economy needs both manufacturing and service jobs, and we hope to get everything back to normal in a few years.
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