[The ‘Double Whammy’ That Is Slowing New York City’s Job Growth]
Almost two years later, the city has regained just over half of the jobs lost, according to the state’s Department of Labor – far fewer than the rest of the country. The city’s unemployment rate now stands at 9.4%, more than double the national average. New York’s figure has declined in recent months after peaking at 20% in June 2020, mainly because thousands of people dropped out of the workforce.
The protracted pandemic has left tourists out and spooked commuters who filled office towers every weekday – a “double whammy,” said Andrew Rein, president of the Citizen Budget Commission, a nonprofit watchdog group. Just 8% of office workers were back to work five days a week in early November, according to a survey by the Partnership for New York City, a group of companies.
“Commuters and tourists eat a lot of the same,” Rein said. “They consume, in a sense, the vibrancy of New York City.”
Their absence has contributed to the loss of more than 100,000 jobs in the city’s restaurants, bars and hotels, as well as nearly 60,000 additional jobs in retail, the performing arts, entertainment and recreation. The reopening of Broadway theaters gave a boost in the fall, but the Omicron variant could stifle the nascent recovery as the next mayor, Eric Adams, takes office in January. Adams has pledged to focus municipal government resources on revitalizing the economy, with a city-wide training and placement program.
The pandemic has been particularly painful for people in lower paying service jobs. In contrast, Wall Street “is having a record year” and did well last year, said Ana Champeny, Deputy Director of Research at the Citizens Budget Committee. One result: the city continued to collect income taxes from highly paid professionals who work remotely.
The employment situation in New York City reflects how the pandemic has shifted priorities, with many people making work-life balance a new priority. Louisa Tatum, career coach at the New York Public Library in the Bronx, said workers have become more selective about which jobs they are willing to take.
“There is a desire to work remotely and for opportunities that don’t put them at risk,” she said.