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New York City Unemployment Keeps Getting Worse

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New York City Unemployment Keeps Getting Worse

New York Post December 14, 2021
Urban PolicyNYC
EconomicsEmployment

NYC now ranks near dead last in the country for its jobs recovery during the pandemic.

New York City is a jobs killer. Gotham now ranks near dead last in the country for its jobs recovery during the pandemic. America’s already regained 90 percent of its lost jobs — New York City, just six in 10. Unemployment is double the national average. And it gets worse: Many New Yorkers are leaving the workforce for good. 

It’s time to get back to normal before it’s too late. 

The pandemic took a big bite out of the Big Apple. The city lost 1 million jobs last year. Thousands of businesses closed their doors. And New York state as a whole was hardly better, with the worst employment deficits in the country. People-facing industries — from Broadway to hotels and retail — suffered the most. The rate of New Yorkers fleeing the city for good more than tripled on net during the pandemic. 

By some measures, the city’s bouncing back. Rents are already back to pre-pandemic levels. Maybe the sidewalks seem more crowded. But the numbers don’t lie: Foot traffic is still low — among the lowest of any big city here or abroad — while subway ridership is a fraction of what it once was. 

De Blasio fiddles 

Last year’s white-collar quarantine kept COVID cases low and jobs and incomes high in the finance and tech industries. For them, there was no recession. And they had options — they could Zoom in from anywhere. But for blue-collar workers and small businesses, COVID was catastrophic. They were the first to catch COVID and the last to regain their jobs. 

New York’s leadership hardly helped. In the face of rising crime, City Hall defunded the NYPD, closed schools, banned new hotels, enforced price controls, demonized property owners, hammered businesses with fines and embarked on a historic spending spree. 

And now, employers are tasked with enforcing the city’s crippling vaccine mandate backed by the state’s confusing mask-at-your-desk mandate — hardly a message of confidence to office workers or diners. To this, the city shrugs: Mayor de Blasio is fiddling while the recovery burns. 

Still a tale of 2 cities 

Incoming Mayor Eric Adams promises to turn New York City around. He’s surrounding himself with job creators and promising more training and aid along with less red tape. These are good promises — ones we should work hard to help Adams keep. Long before the pandemic, New York City was already losing the lifeblood of its ambition and energy: the entrepreneurs and immigrant strivers, the working families looking elsewhere for a better way of life. 

As de Blasio leaves office, New York City remains a “tale of two cities”: The divide between rich and poor has only grown larger during the pandemic. Essential workers proved nonessential to keeping tax rolls afloat, and the city’s acting accordingly, taxing and masking them while knowledge workers flourish. Today’s New York City is for the degreed, the vaccinated and the well-employed. 

New York City faces a long road to recovery unless we act fast to turn around this jobs crisis. Nearly every industry in the Big Apple is employing fewer people today than it did before the pandemic. COVID-19’s already killed more New Yorkers and caused more economic damage than 9/11. But the Big Apple cannot fully recover while in a perpetual state of emergency. It’s time we got back to normal. 

This piece originally appeared at the New York Post

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Michael Hendrix is the director of state & local policy at the Manhattan Institute.

Photo by Alex Potemkin/iStock

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