Labor Market Assessment 2017

About the project

Analyzing our labor force’s capacity to drive a 21st century economy

UBRI conducted an updated and expanded labor market study to support an understanding of the regional economy and workforce across the eight counties of Western New York. The study updates the work UBRI completed in 2010 (Who’s Your Economy?), focusing on research for attracting new businesses, aligning workforce training with employer needs, and planning for business development; but features new information on talent attraction and retention, underemployment, the landscape of workforce training to support regional target industries, employer-union success stories, and labor cost trends.

Download Reports at Invest Buffalo Niagara

UBRI Work & Solutions

A suite of reports tackle the complexities of Buffalo Niagara’s multifaceted labor market

Commissioned by Invest Buffalo Niagara, the research provides insights for a wide-range of users—from current and prospective employers, to workforce trainers, to individuals seeking employment or career advancement. It is organized as a suite of four reports that focus on different elements of the Buffalo Niagara labor market. Who’s Our Economy? offers a comprehensive overview of the region’s economy, labor force, trends, target industries, and a comparison of these factors across the region’s eight counties. Where Are Our Opportunities? explores underemployment, labor availability, the landscape of workforce training, and credential building for high-demand jobs in the region’s target industries. Qualitative research methods explore union relationships in What Role Does Labor Management Play? which looks at labor-management relations trends and best practices from the region. Finally, salary data benchmarked against comparative metros and insightful survey data collected from employers are included in How Competitive Are Payroll Costs? which presents information on wages, payroll trends, and employee benefits in Buffalo Niagara.

Innovative methods capture data not readily available

Surveys, interviews and roundtable discussions capture many different perspectives

Industry and employment data shed light on Buffalo’s Niagara’s labor market; but to fully understand the complexities, UBRI supported this quantitative data with innovative survey approaches and public engagement methods. Through an online survey, over 200 employers provided data on hiring trends, hard-to-find workers, and the availability and cost of employee benefits. Our online workforce trainers’ survey collected information on programs, capacity, outcomes, and future opportunities. To capture the elusive underemployment question, 550 residents participated in a telephone survey on labor availability. Literature reviews supplemented information gathered through interviews for case studies on best labor-management practices. In-person interviews and a roundtable discussion conducted with representatives of labor, management, academia, and economic development helped us understand how labor-management partnerships are contributing to economic competitiveness, and uncovered opportunities for regional collaboration.


Target industries offer insight for a changing economy

Seven target industries comprise 40% of the Buffalo Niagara regional economy, and are positioned for expansion and investment. UBRI drilled down into these target industry sectors to unlock information on firms and employees by industry subsector, geographic concentrations, top occupations per industry, specialized skills and knowledge areas needed, related degrees granted in Buffalo Niagara, and detailed wage data for the top 50 occupations.

UBRI also looked at projections including which are anticipated to contribute the largest number of job openings, the skills employers need, the credentials that cultivate those skills, and the supply of emerging workers from area colleges and universities to fill jobs requiring postsecondary education. This breadth of current and projected data offers valuable insights for job seekers, workforce trainers and employers in the industries.



Diverse communities make up one region

In addition to a comprehensive overview of the economy, the report offers county-by-county comparisons of key labor market indicators and trends. Variation across Buffalo Niagara’s eight counties can sometimes be masked when looking at regional averages, especially with 75% of the labor force, 76% of all firms, and 91% of total jobs located in the region’s metropolitan core of Erie and Niagara counties. The LMA takes a closer look at labor market patterns at the county level, assessing how the eight counties, made up of urban, suburban and rural economies, compare to one another. County snapshots offer profiles of the counties, with industry and workforce statistics. Side by side comparisons highlight the counties’ comparative strengths, specializations, and economic distinctions.



Invest Buffalo Niagara
Make Communities
The John R. Oishei Foundation Mobile Safety Net Team
The Pathfinders


National FuelNational Fuel
National Grid
NY Power AuthorityNY Power Authority
Erie County Industrial Development AgencyErie County Industrial Development Agency
Say Yes to Education BuffaloSay Yes to Education Buffalo
Niagara USA ChamberNiagara USA Chamber
Niagara County Center for Economic DevelopmentNiagara County Center for Economic Development