The truth about upstate New York’s dying cities and towns, where the idea of President Trump mollifies the fear and rage of people who feel they’ve been left behind, is that some of those place do deserve to die. Buffalo will never again be a great steel producer. The GE plant in Schenectady will never employ tens of thousands of workers. For that matter, Apple will never make iPhones in America, no matter what Trump says.
But it’s also true that some of these places might yet be resurrected. In fact, some of them already have been. Two hours southeast of Binghamton, across the state line, is Williamsport, Pa., a town that was shrinking for fifty years but is now the seventh fastest-growing metro region in the country. It’s unemployment rate is below the national average and future job growth there is estimated to be more than 41 percent over the next decade.
The difference between Binghamton and Williamsport is that New York banned fracking and Pennsylvania welcomed it. The oil and gas business in Pennsylvania’s former coal country now employs twice as many workers in the state as the coal mining industry. If Trump voters are looking for someone to blame for missing out on the fracking boom, they should look to Albany, not to Washington.
The larger point about dying towns, though, to paraphrase Williamson, is that if there are no fracking jobs in Garbutt, move to Williamsport.