Elisha Graves Otis didn’t invent the elevator. He created a safety brake that prevented elevators from falling if the hoisting rope broke. By making elevators relatively safe, Otis helped usher in the era of skyscrapers.
His first elevator with a safety brake was installed in 1857 in a five-story department store in New York City. The elevator reshaped the Big Apple’s skyline and made some of America’s most valuable land even more valuable.
Few areas of the world can match the economic might of the Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. These states are among the most populous and prosperous in the nation. At the center of it all is New York City.
The largest city in the U.S. (8.5 million residents) has eight of the 10 tallest buildings in the country, led by One World Trade Center, which reaches a height of 1,776 feet. The rise of skyscrapers more than a century ago helped cement New York City as an epicenter of American capitalism.
That continues today. Forty-three Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in New York City this year, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Verizon Communications, Pfizer and Goldman Sachs Group.
The state of New York ranked third in the nation last year with $1.8 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP), or the sum of all goods and services produced, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Pennsylvania ranked sixth with $839.4 billion in GDP. New Jersey ranked ninth with $672 billion while Delaware came in 42nd with $80.7 billion in output.
The Mid-Atlantic Region features a diverse set of industries, from the financial districts in New York to the profitable farming in rural Pennsylvania and a legacy of chemical innovation in Delaware. The Port of New York and New Jersey is the biggest facility on the East Coast, moving more than 4 million cargo containers each year. New York City consistently ranks atop all U.S. cities in truck freight volume, according to service company Freight Cowboy.
New York ranks fourth among all states with a total population of 19.8 million and Pennsylvania ranks fifth with 13 million residents. New Jersey lands at No. 11 with 9.3 million and Delaware at No. 45 with slightly more than 1 million residents.
Three of the Mid-Atlantic states lost population from April 2020 to July 2021, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. New York alone lost 365,000 residents during this period, leading all states in population loss. Most of the state’s population loss came from New York City, which saw its numbers drop like never before. Researchers believe it was a pandemic-prompted exodus.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey also were among 17 states that lost population during the five quarters ending in July 2021. Among Mid-Atlantic states, only Delaware saw its population grow. ●
Home prices in the Mid-Atlantic Region continued to grow over the past year. Each of the states in the region had higher typical home values than the U.S., except for Pennsylvania, Zillow reported. The Keystone State’s typical home value as of July 2022 was $266,883 while the U.S. average value was $355,852.
There are signs that the housing market is beginning to cool. Philadelphia, for instance, had four straight months earlier this year in which pending sales declined year over year, according to Bright Multiple Listing Service. The same report noted that home prices in the Philadelphia area were up 9.2% during the year ending in June 2022. This past August, meanwhile, New York City pending sales were down 14.3% year over year, according to GlobeSt.com.
The region has some of the oldest housing stock in the country. New York tops all states for the oldest owner-occupied homes in the U.S. with a median age of 60 years. More than half of the 100,000 homes in Rochester are at least 75 years. And Buffalo has the oldest housing stock of any major city in the U.S., with 64% of the city’s homes built before 1940.
Focus: Nuclear Energy
About 20% of the electrical power produced in the U.S. each year is generated from nuclear plants, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). And three states in the Mid-Atlantic Region rely heavily on nuclear power for their energy needs.
Pennsylvania ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2019 for electricity produced by nuclear energy. Thirty-six percent of all the power used in the Keystone State came from nuclear power plants. New York ranked No. 4 and New Jersey ranked No. 9 in terms of power produced by nuclear plants. Delaware didn’t generate or use any energy tied to nuclear facilities.
Pennsylvania has eight nuclear power reactors, which directly employ 4,500 workers, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. New York has six of these facilities, which employ about 3,350 workers. New Jersey has some 1,600 jobs serving its three reactors. Salaries at nuclear plants vary by job and location, but on average, compensation is 30% higher than the local average across all industries, according to the DOE.
What the locals say
“In normal times, the housing inventory in New Castle County (Delaware) is around 2,500 homes actively on the market. At the ultimate low time of inventory, it got to about 300 homes. We’re now back to around 600 to 700 homes on the market that are not under contract. Yes, there is more inventory. Are we back to normal times? No. With interest rates rising, you’re seeing the houses that are not priced appropriately, not clean and not updated, they’re not selling. They’re sitting on the market. The ones that are priced appropriately are being sold.”
Pike Creek Mortgage Services
3 Cities to Watch
This city on the shores of Lake Ontario in New York state was once a booming manufacturing center anchored by photography company Eastman Kodak, eye care company Bausch & Lomb, and copier giant Xerox. But the number of manufacturing jobs in the region has declined since the 1980s, leaving the population stagnant. Today, Rochester (population 210,600) has world-class optics, imaging and photonics employment clusters.
New Jersey’s second-largest city, just across the Hudson River from New York City, features one of the most photographed skylines in the world, according to digital theft prevention company Pixsy. Although it’s among the most expensive U.S. cities for renters, Jersey City (population 284,000), has a cost of living that’s on par with its neighbor across the river and attracts younger residents. About 40% of its residents are under the age of 40, according to Data USA.
Among the nation’s 40 largest metropolitan areas, Pittsburgh (population 300,000) has the slowest employment growth coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly due to the number of older workers who retired during the shutdowns. Major employers include PNC Bank and the University of Pittsburgh. First National Bank’s new headquarters, a 24-story office tower to be completed in 2024, anchors a $1 billion revitalization project in the Lower Hill district.
Sources: Bright Multiple Listing Service, Data USA, Entrepreneur, Federal Reserve, Fortune, Freddie Mac, GlobeSt.com, History.com, Introducing New York, Investopedia, Next Pittsburgh, Nuclear Energy Institute, Patch.com, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Pixsy, Trib Total Media, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Energy, WorldAtlas.com, Zillow