New York’s private-sector job recovery accelerated in March—but remained far behind the national pace on a year-to-year basis, according to the latest monthly figures from the state Labor Department.

This analysis was updated April 16 with subsequently released data for all 50 states from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Compared to the same month in 2020, New York’s statewide private employment in March was down 823,100 jobs, or 10.1 percent. As illustrated below, this was an improvement over the nearly flat-lined pace of the recovery since last fall, which saw monthly year-to-year drops in the neighborhood of 1 million jobs.

On the national level, the recovery is accelerating at a stronger pace. Private employment in March had crept back up to within 4.3 percent of the 2020 level, a nationwide net drop of 5.3 million jobs on a year-to-year basis. For most of the winter and autumn months, New York’s net percentage job decline was twice the U.S. level; as of March, it was nearly two-and-a-half times worse. As shown below, New York was tied with Nevada for the second-worst jobs recovery of any state after Hawaii. 


But New York’s relative recovery rate looks stronger based on a seasonally adjusted basis, which reflects statistical adjustments reflecting assumed historical hiring patterns. On a seasonally adjusted basis, New York’s March statewide private employment total was up 61,000 jobs from the February level, an increase of 0.8 percent, while the nation gained jobs at only half the pace, or 0.4 percent, last month.

Next month’s payroll establishment job numbers for New York will be especially noteworthy, coming exactly a year after the worst month of the economic crash induced by the pandemic shutdown, when statewide private employment fell by nearly 1.9 million jobs below the level of a year earlier.

Where the jobs aren’t

New York City, epicenter of the pandemic starting a year ago, remains by far the Empire State’s weakest region in terms of private employment compared to a year ago, with jobs still down a net 13.2 percent. Gotham’s net decline of 532,500 jobs from the March 2020 level accounted for nearly two-thirds of the state’s total loss compared to a year earlier. Suburban Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley were down a net 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively, during the same period.

The strongest major metro areas upstate were Albany-Schenectady-Troy, down just 5.7 percent from a year earlier, and Rochester, down 5.8 percent. The weakest upstate area was Elmira, down 9.6 percent, suggesting that the long-term economic decline of the western tier has resumed after pausing during the pandemic. The next weakest area was the historically dynamic Ithaca area, where private jobs were down 9.5 percent on a year-to-year basis—no doubt reflecting the impact of the pandemic on the Cornell and Ithaca College resident student populations.

Joblessness as measured by the unemployment rate—the product of the separate household survey conducted by labor departments and the U.S. Census Bureau—is also headed all-so-slowly in the right direction in New York. The March statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was estimated at 8.5 percent, a slight improvement from the previous month. The national unemployment rate was 6 percent, also a very slight improvement over the previous month.

But as shown below, New York’s unemployment rate was the second highest of any state’s.

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 FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

140 State Employees Paid $100,000 or More … in Overtime

State agencies paid out a total of $851.4 million in overtime pay in 2020, an $18.7 million increase from 2019. Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

Emergency Billions Pose Opportunity—and Risk—for NYS Schools

New York schools are to post publicly today plans for spending a huge pile of unexpected and unbudgeted cash. Read More

Report Reveals Albany’s Balanced Budget a Gimmick

Extending the budget window reveals large, yawning budget gaps growing from nearly $8 billion in 2026 to nearly $20 billion by the end of the decade. Read More

The post-pandemic comeback: how far are we from normal?

Now that the COVID-19 "emergency" is in the rearview mirror, how far is New York's economy from its pre-pandemic normal level? Read More

Remote Threat 

Remote work and a more mobile professional class will increase the speed and scope of New York's ongoing out migration. 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!