Much like a home, a stable, good paying job provides individuals and families with the ability to meet basic needs like food and shelter, plus the freedom to pursue educational, recreational, and cultural interests. Improving access to jobs – in the form of better transportation infrastructure and services – can expand people’s choices and improve their quality of life.

In this section, we address access to jobs by trying to answer a few basic questions:

  1. Where are our job centers (many employees, but few employers) and job clusters (many employees, and many employers)?
  2. Where might jobs grow?
  3. Where do transportation barriers – e.g., poor safety, reliability, or bus access – affect access to jobs?

Where are the jobs?

We have more than 2,100 employers in Dutchess County, which employ over 113,000 workers. Many of these employers and jobs are concentrated in the southwest quadrant of the county along Route 9 from lower Hyde Park, south through greater Poughkeepsie, Wappinger-Wappingers Falls, and Fishkill, branching west along Route 52 to Beacon and east along I-84 to East Fishkill. This area accounts for about 70 percent of all jobs in the county. Smaller job centers are also located in the LaGrange, Pawling, Red Hook, and Rhinebeck areas.

Employers based in the City and Town of Poughkeepsie support the most jobs in the county: over 43,000 jobs or 39 percent of all jobs. East Fishkill-based employers follow with over 9,000 jobs. Combined, these three communities support almost half of the county’s total jobs.

See our Barriers to Basic Needs Map for locations of job density.

Where are jobs growing?

According to a recent NYS Department of Labor report for the Hudson Valley, jobs in the health care, warehousing, and recreation sectors are expected to grow the most. Based on the Census Bureau’s LEHD data, some of this growth has already been happening; in Dutchess, warehousing saw a 34 percent increase in jobs from 2014-2018. Yet, warehousing represents a small fraction of total jobs in the county – only three percent. Though jobs in health care have not increased as much, health care continues to represent the highest share of jobs in Dutchess – about 19 percent. Education and retail are the next highest at 15 and 12 percent.

We’re uncertain about the future of some sectors in our economy, particularly retail trade, but we expect the health care and education sectors to maintain their importance in our county. This will require us to improve access to job centers such as hospitals in Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck, large medical offices in Poughkeepsie and Fishkill, and colleges throughout the county. The rise of e-commerce will spur job growth in the warehouse sector, which will require us to maintain safe and reliable access at major highway facilities such as I-84, Route 9, and Route 52. And we will need to maintain access to large manufacturing facilities such as IBM in Poughkeepsie – still a major employer in our county.

Where should we focus our efforts?

We can focus our efforts on areas where transportation access poses a barrier near job centers and clusters, and especially locations with growing industries. Looking at our Barriers to Reliable Access Map, we can see that the I-84, Route 9, and Route 52 area around the Village of Fishkill experiences some of the highest congestion in the county. This area also supports large medical offices, major retailers, and a regional warehouse. Likewise, the I-84/Route 9D area also has some of the worst congestion in the county, which affects interstate freight movement and local access to and from the Beacon train station, a commuter rail hub for workers travelling to the NYC metropolitan area. Another congested location – the westbound 44/55 arterial near downtown Poughkeepsie – is home to many governmental and administrative jobs. For locations like these, we can look at ways to make traffic flow better (e.g. improving traffic signals, reducing driveways, and redesigning bottlenecks).

What We Heard

"Taking a bus home from work in the afternoon is easy with convenient access and frequent service. But to take the bus to work door to door takes about an hour vs. a 10-minute drive. More frequent, more consistent service would help make public transit an option."

- Moving Dutchess Forward survey

We can also look at where infrequent bus service poses a barrier to accessing jobs. For example, our analysis of Bus Access finds that major job centers and clusters along Route 52 in East Fishkill suffer from infrequent bus service, which can pose a barrier to workers who don’t have access to a vehicle. We can reduce these gaps by modifying bus routes and exploring special services such as microtransit or employer sponsored shuttles that better connect people to jobs.

Unsafe or inconvenient walking and bicycling access can also pose a barrier to jobs – especially where they are near housing, and the potential exists to connect residents with those jobs. Some of our highest-density residential areas are close to job centers but have poor walking and bicycling access to them. Many of these barriers exist along major highway corridors such as Route 9 through Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls, Wappinger, and Fishkill, where residential and commercial centers are separated by a heavily travelled, multi-lane highway that makes walking uncomfortable, unsafe, and inconvenient.

Besides transportation solutions, we can also improve job access by supporting land use policies and decisions that provide housing choices near job centers, which can open job opportunities, shorten commute times, and reduce transportation costs. We talk more about this in our Advocate section.

What else should we consider?

We shouldn’t overlook the importance of a strong and healthy community – places with good housing, education, and services – in fostering a strong economy. Employers want a stable, educated workforce. Such a workforce doesn’t simply appear. It is built over time: the product of quality communities that attract people seeking a better life and employers seeking a talented workforce. But what about those who don’t have the means to move? Creating better transportation access can help those who don’t have the resources to move (and shouldn’t have to move). Providing better educational opportunities and housing choices can make struggling communities more stable and more attractive to employers.

Our Role

Based on this analysis, our role could include the following:

  • Reduce transportation safety and reliability issues near job centers and clusters so they do not pose a barrier to workers accessing jobs.
  • Maintain transportation infrastructure near job centers and clusters, ensuring that facilities such as roads and bridges do not pose a barrier to workers or businesses.
  • Work with transit providers and employers to design and operate transit services that better serve workers and employers, whether by local bus, regional bus, commuter rail, or specialized services such as microtransit or employer sponsored shuttles.
  • Support walking and bicycling improvements that better connect people to jobs, especially between high-density residential centers and nearby job centers and clusters.
  • Work with County Planning and local Planning/Zoning Boards to promote housing development near job centers and clusters, helping to reduce commute times and transportation costs.
  • Consider access to permanent, living wage jobs when evaluating potential safety and congestion-related improvements. Provide additional weight for projects that improve access to basic needs in our project selection criteria.