NYS Comptroller says NYC economy surges ahead as jobs hit record level


New York City is experiencing a record-setting economic boon, with employment hitting new highs and unemployment falling to 40-year lows, according to a report released Wednesday by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

In 2018, employment in the city reached 4.55 million, the highest jobs level ever recorded, the report said.

“New York City is experiencing its largest and longest job expansion since the end of World War II and the city has been the driving force behind the state’s employment gains,” DiNapoli said.

Between 2009 and 2018, the city added 820,400 jobs, a rate higher than states except for California, Texas, Florida and New York. The city’s rate of job creation was also the fastest on record, with about 91,200 jobs added each year since 2009, the report showed. The citywide unemployment rate fell to 4.1% last year from 10.1% at the height of the recession in October 2009. It is at its lowest level since 1976.

Since 2009, total employment in New York City has grown 22%, which compares with the state’s growth rate of 13.2% and the nation’s 13.5% rate.

However, most of the new jobs in the city were in sectors such as leisure and hospitality, where salaries are below the city average of $89,800. Business services, leisure and hospitality, and health care accounted for 60% of the jobs gains since 2009.

Thomas DiNapoli

The higher-paying securities industry has also reported job gains, but is still 4% smaller than before the 2007 financial crisis.

New York City and its entities comprise one of the largest issuers of municipal debt in the country. Moody’s Investors Service rates the city’s general obligation bonds Aa1 while S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings rate them AA. The city has about $38 billion of general obligation debt outstanding as of Dec. 31, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

In 2017, there were more than 2 million immigrants employed in New York City, representing 42% of all workers. Immigrants made up more than half of the workforce in several sectors such as construction, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and health care and social assistance.

The unemployment rate among immigrants has been consistently below the citywide rate. In 2010, the foreign-born unemployment rate of 6.6% was 0.4-points below the citywide rate of 7.0%. By 2017, the gap had widened to 0.9-points at 3.2% for immigrants compared to 4.1% citywide.

The report said that the business services sector, which includes accountants, lawyers, programmers and clerks, added 193,000 jobs between 2009 and 2018, the most of any sector. The increase of 34% accounts for nearly a quarter of all jobs added during this time.

Since 2009, the technology sector has grown 80% to 142,600 jobs. With an average salary of $152,900 in 2017, the tech sector has become one of the economic drivers in the city, the report said.

Among the outer boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens were the biggest contributors to employment growth.

Brooklyn accounted for 26% of all private sector jobs created in New York City between 2009 and 2018 while Queens contributed 16%. As a result of strong job growth in the four outer boroughs, Manhattan’s share of private sector employment declined to 59% in 2018 from 64% in 1990.

“While job growth remains strong, there are national and global risks that could affect the pace of future growth,” DiNapoli cautioned.

“For the first time since taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced plans to implement a Program to Eliminate the Gap, which requires agencies to generate savings through expense reductions or revenue enhancements,” the watchdog Citizens Budget Commission said in a report released last month. “The process of identifying savings is never easy, but the City is right to prepare for an economic slowdown or contraction. Furthermore, the City benefits from a regular effort to examine operations, set priorities, and reduce costs. This discipline can yield benefits in good as well as leaner times.”

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