In the seventh month of the coronavirus pandemic, private-sector employment in New York was still recovering more slowly than in other states from the after-effects of the broad spring shutdowns of normal business and social life, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

As of September, New York’s private job count was down 12.1 percent from the same month in 2019, based on non-seasonally adjusted BLS and state Labor Department data.

The Empire State’s year-to-year decrease was almost double the national decline of 6.9 percent. Only one other state—tourism-intensive Hawaii—was further below its 2019 employment level, with a decline of 21.5 percent. As shown on the map below, Alaska and Vermont were the only other states with double-digit percentage declines in employment on a year-to-year basis.

 

New York’s total year-to-year decrease of 1 million private jobs as of September represented a big improvement over its total for April, the depths of the coronavirus outbreak, which was down 1.8 million jobs from the level of a year earlier. But the latest number—in absolute terms, second only to California’s decline of 1.3 million jobs—shows the Empire State still has very far to go before statewide private-sector employment recovers to pre-pandemic levels. As noted here last week, the rate of New York’s private jobs recovery on a year-to-year basis has slowed since mid-summer, with the hoped-for V-shaped recovery looking more like an “L” path.

A somewhat stronger recovery trend was measured by the unemployment data. New York’s unemployment rate of 9.7 percent was well above the national jobless rate of 7.9 percent, the sixth highest of any state’s, and 5.8 percentage points higher than the Empire State’s unemployment rate a year earlier. However, the month-to-month drop of 2.8 percentage points in New York’s rate was the second biggest improvement, trailing only New Jersey’s gain of 4.4 percentage points, according to the BLS. 

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About the Author

E.J. McMahon

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

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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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 "Readers will recall that the Empire Center is the think tank that spent months trying to pry Covid data out of Mr. Cuomo’s government, which offered a series of unbelievable excuses for its refusal to disclose...five months after it sued the government, and one week after a state court ruled that the Cuomo administration had violated the law and ordered it to come clean—Team Cuomo finally started coughing up some of the records."   -Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2021

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