The Great Recession in Buffalo-Niagara
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At the end of the last decade, the U.S. experienced its most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. The so-called “Great Recession” shocked the economies of virtually every metropolitan area in the nation. Officially, the recession began in December of 2007 and ended in June 2009. But for much of the country, recovery has been very slow; over three years since the expansion began the nation had gained back less than half of the jobs it had lost during the downturn. This brief examines the Great Recession’s effect on the Buffalo-Niagara metro’s economy and compares the region’s performance to that of the nation as a whole. The relative performance of the region has been mixed. For the first time in decades, the recession has been milder in the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area than in the U.S. overall, starting later and resulting in lower levels of joblessness. This change is tied to the decline of the region’s manufacturing base, which has left the economy more diverse and less volatile than in the past. However, stability has come at a price. More often than not, the service jobs that have been growing in the region pay lower wages than the manufacturing jobs they have replaced, and thus have tended to suppress workers’ wages.
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