New York state has experienced fewer job losses during the Great Recession than the nation at large and has begun to see some job growth, but unemployment rates remain unacceptably high, a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute finds.
The report, The State of Working New York 2010: High Unemployment Persists But Most States Fare Far Worse Than New York, found that between December 2007 — the start of the recession — and December 2009, New York lost 250,000 jobs. Although the state's 2.8 percent decline in total jobs was significant, forty other states experienced greater job losses (in percentage terms) over the same period, while New York's eleven upstate metropolitan areas experienced smaller job losses than most of the 365 metro areas in the country.
More recently, the state has begun to see modest job growth, with most of that growth occuring in New York City, which experienced a net employment increase of 67,000 during the first seven months of 2010. The rest of the state — the New York City suburbs and upstate — saw a net gain of fewer than 10,000 jobs. Indeed, one in every six New York workers remains unemployed or underemployed, with half of the state's unemployed individuals having been without work for more than six months. Despite the increase in jobs and a decline in the statewide unemployment rate, first-time unemployment insurance claims data from May through July indicate that, two years after the recession started in New York, workers are still losing jobs at a pace 30 percent greater than before the recession.
Furthermore, there has been a sharp divergence in wage trends in New York City over the last few years, with workers in managerial/professional occupations seeing median weekly earnings growth of 9.5 percent between the first half of 2007 and the first half of 2010, while weekly earnings for workers in non-managerial/non-professional occupations fell by 4.3 percent. Outside the city, both managerial/professional and non-managerial/non-professional workers experienced an erosion in their weekly earnings.
"You can hardly call this a recovery if one and a half million New Yorkers are unemployed or underemployed and if the overwhelming majority of those lucky enough to hold onto their jobs have seen their weekly earnings shrink as a result of the recession," said FPI deputy director and chief economist James Parrott. "The Recovery Act was critical in rescuing an economy that was headed off a cliff in late 2008. However, by itself it has not been sufficient to generate a sustained recovery. Policy makers need to focus again on spurring aggregate demand and creating private-sector jobs, averting economy-shrinking cuts in state budgets, and investing in productivity-enhancing infrastructure, particularly in such areas as mass transit."