Amid raging inflation and mounting recession worries, the nation’s private-sector payroll jobs total finally cleared the pre-pandemic level last month. Preliminary June data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) put seasonally adjusted private employment at 129,765,000 jobs—about 140,000 more than counted in February 2020.

New York, as usual, still has a longer way to go. The comparative trend lines tell the story:


The monthly rates of job growth nationally and in New York have moved along roughly parallel tracks for the past year or so. However, following the initial Covid-19 outbreak and government-mandated lockdowns in March 2020, New York’s job loss was so much larger than any state’s (nearly 2 million jobs lost between February and April 2020) that the Empire State still has much further to go before it returns to the pre-pandemic peak employment.

As noted here previously, most of New York’s job loss following the initial Covid-19 outbreak was concentrated in New York City and its surrounding suburbs, where employment growth has recently begun to outpace the recovery rate in upstate regions, which were sluggish performers before the pandemic.

State by state

As of June, 20 states—including neighboring New Jersey, as well as most of the southeast and much of the West—had surpassed their February 2020 private payroll counts, while New York remained 4.5 percent below its February 2020 private employment level. Only Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota and Vermont remained further behind.

Among New York’s populous peers, Florida (+3.2 percent) and Texas (+3.7 percent) have bounced back strongly, and California (-0.6 percent) is perhaps a month or two away from fully recovering to pre-pandemic employment levels, although its lockdowns were comparable to New York’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

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