A sign of ailing NY economy
In New York state, contrary to gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan, the rent is not too damn high. Its actually too damn low in most places -- and that fact reflects the states true problems.
McMillan created a sensation at this weeks gubernatorial debate with his handlebar mustache and his incessant repetition of his slogan about rents being too high.
Although McMillan is evasive about his own rent (The Post reported yesterday that he pays $800 a month for a Brooklyn one-bedroom), news accounts and typical “voter in the street” interviews suggest many people approve of McMillans gripes that rents are too high -- including gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo.
But it misses the point. Rents are an expression of economic activity -- and theyre very low across much of New York, reflecting the states lousy economic performance.
According to Census figures, median rents in 44 of New Yorks 62 counties are below the national median of $819 a month. In more than a dozen counties, in fact, the median rent is a whopping 25 percent or more below the national median.
Yes, rents in some counties are substantially above the national median -- but so are incomes. In Nassau, for instance, rents are 70 percent higher than the national median, but annual household income is 80 percent higher.
Even in Manhattan (where rent-control laws distort the market), rents are 40 percent above the median, but family income is 30 percent higher, too.
Theres a correlation among income, jobs and rents that should make us cheer when rents go up. Consider the counties in New York state with the lowest median rents: Chenango, St. Lawrence and Franklin.
In the last 20 years, Franklin County has seen no new jobs in its private sector; in Chenango, private employment has shrunk by 10 percent. In St. Lawrence, private jobs have grown by a meager 5 percent in two decades.
Its not difficult to understand why landlords cant charge much for rents in these places.
This lack of opportunity is one reason why New York is losing so many people to other states. From 2000 to 2008, for instance, New York led the country in migration to other places -- a net outflow of 1.5 million residents, according to a study by the Manhattan Institutes Empire Center for New York State Policy.
And, lest you think these folks are fleeing high rents in places like Manhattan, the net outflow took place in virtually every upstate county, including many where rents are quite affordable by national standards.
People are following jobs. A new study by the Empire Center found that New York is among the states that lose the most jobs to other states. New York also ranks among the worst in job creation. This isnt surprising, considering that business executives consistently rank the state as one of the least desirable places in the country to operate.
The focus of the gubernatorial campaign ought to be on reform that makes the state economically competitive, including lower taxes and less regulation. Do that and job growth will follow. Then rents will go up -- and well all cheer.
Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/rent_too_darn_low_YzIXRhghOAkV5xzJmBbLSI#ixzz12zwIaKzk