New York State’s post-pandemic jobs recovery has come a long way—but still has far to go, according to the state Labor Department’s employment report for May.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the statewide private-sector payroll job count swelled last month to just under 7.5 million, up 13.2 percent from the (historically deflated) level of the same month a year ago. Nationally, private employment in May was up 10.4 percent, according to initial estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those numbers are a bit misleading in isolation, however.

New York’s job loss last spring was much worse than the national average—bottoming out in April at nearly 23 percent (-1.87 million jobs) below the prior year’s level, compared to a national decline of 15 percent in the same period. As of last month, the U.S. private job count of 123.4 million was just 3.8 percent below the May 2019 level, while New York’s total was still down 10 percent from two years ago. To put it another way, in employment terms, New York has come a bit more than halfway back—still 825,000 jobs below its employment level in the comparable “before time” of May 2019.

The month-to-month perspective

Measured monthly on a seasonally adjusted-basis, statewide private-sector employment in New York was up 0.24 percent in May, barely half the national monthly increase of 0.4 percent. Although it represented a slowdown from the January through April monthly pace, New York’s 0.24 percent increase last month was strong by longer-term historical standards—considerably above the state’s average monthly increase in private jobs during the 20 years leading up to the pandemic.

The chart below illustrates the seasonally adjusted growth in private employment for both New York and the nation as a whole starting in January 2010, the end of the Great Recession. As shown, New York kept pace with the nation for almost all of this period, but was slowing down slightly even before the sickening drop after Governor Cuomo ordered a pandemic lockdown in March 2020.

 

This week’s lifting of most Covid-related restrictions on commercial operations and gatherings should boost New York’s growth prospects. However, even if the state keeps steadily adding private payroll jobs at May’s pace, private employment in New York won’t recover to the February 2020 level until April 2025. Even steady monthly employment growth at twice the May rate won’t produce a full private jobs recovery until the spring of 2023.

Nationally, by contrast, continued growth at the May rate would lead to a full employment recovery by the summer of 2022. Even if all U.S. job gains slow to half the May pace, private employment nationally will be back at the pre-pandemic peak by the summer of 2023.

Regional Highlights

The table below from the state Labor Department report shows the breakdown of private employment growth on a regional basis.   As with the statewide year-over-year numbers, those percentage changes are somewhat misleading, given the very low 2020 starting point.

For example, while private employment in Buffalo-Niagara Falls was up a very impressive 17.4 percent in May, it remained more than 6 percent below the May 2019 level. In fact, the current (improved) Buffalo payroll job count is roughly the same as in May 2011.

 

 

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

The Health Department’s response to a FOIL request for nursing home data triggers 2020 déjà vu

Despite Governor Hochul's promise of transparency, the Health Department keeps responding to requests for COVID data with tactics from the Cuomo administration Read More

Hochul’s Emergency Order Imposes Insurer Restrictions Sought by Hospital Group

Buried in Governor Hochul's emergency order on health-care staffing is a temporary bar against insurance companies challenging claims submitted by hospitals–and an influential hospital association is taking credit. Read More

Home Care Agencies Project Widespread Staffing Shortages in the Next Phase of New York’s Vaccine Mandate

Agencies providing home-based care to elderly and disabled New Yorkers face a large-scale loss of employees when the next phase of the state's vaccine mandate takes effect on Oct. 7, according to a newly released industry s Read More

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

As leaves turn, NY’s post-pandemic recovery still has very far to go

Entering the second autumn since the COVID-19 outbreak of March 2020, the pace of New York State's pandemic economic recovery has been abysmal by almost any standard. New York was the national epicenter of the pandemic, and Governor Cuomo's "" business Read More

More NY job gains in August—but employment needs to rise a lot further

New York's jobs report for August looked relatively strong—but only by comparison, that is, with . On a seasonally adjusted basis, New York gained 28,000 private-sector jobs last month—a growth rate of 0.4 percent, according to . This was double th Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

Manhattan Office Suites Emptier Than Other Major Metros

Fewer than one in four New York City office workers are back in the office, according to a pair of datasets issued this week.    Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!