NEW YORK—New York’s economic recovery since 2008 has surpassed the national average by a fair margin, a point Mayor Michael Bloomberg drew on heavily to give some good, old-fashioned advice to a national audience recently in Washington, D.C.
This week marks four years since the Lehman Brothers collapse. The Wall Street investment bank’s financial ruin ushered in the worst of the financial crisis.
“Four years ago, New York City was the epicenter of the financial collapse. But since then—despite being burdened with huge job losses on Wall Street—we have been the epicenter of the national economic recovery,” said Bloomberg.
“In New York City, we have gained back more than 200 percent of the jobs we lost. So for every job we lost, we have added two more,” Bloomberg said during a keynote speech at the Economic Club Wednesday.
In contrast, since the start of the recession, the United States has regained just over 40 percent of the jobs lost, Bloomberg said. Around 12.5 million Americans are still unemployed.
“To put that in perspective, if the rest of the country had weathered the recession as strongly as New York City, there would be 12 million more jobs today,” he said.
The mayor suggested the nation could learn from New York City’s recovery. “Everything we do [in New York] isn’t directly transferable to other cities, but it has been working, and a lot of it is copy-able,” said Bloomberg.
Most of the job growth in the United States comes from entrepreneurs and the formation of new companies, said the mayor.
Bloomberg cautioned against relying on lowering taxes for small businesses to promote job growth, saying it may help, but it wouldn’t really encourage hiring.
“The first questions entrepreneurs ask is, ‘Who are my customers and where do I need to be to serve them, and how do I get up and running quickly?’ It is not, ‘Can I afford the taxes?’” he said.
Bloomberg noted a number of the city’s small business programs, such as the New Business Acceleration Team, which speeds up the approvals process for restaurants and retail establishments.
New York has also pursued a policy of diversifying the economy. When the financial sector took a hit, the city fostered its technology, hospitality, and other sectors.
Maria Doulis of the Citizens Budget Commission praised the mayor for his efforts in diversification, in particular the building of an applied sciences campus in the city.
City-level policies cannot always translate into national-level policies; politics are quite different at the two levels, said Doulis.
City Benefits from National Stimulus
James Parrott of the nonprofit New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute pointed out that the federal bailout of the financial sector played a significant role in the city’s recovery.
“The magnitude of the financial bailout was infinite,” said Parrott. “If you had a bailout of the national economy of that magnitude, then you would see 12 million more jobs at the national level,” he said.
Parrott said that Bloomberg’s advice and the New York City economic policies he held up as examples “all sound reasonable and important,” but can only be part of the solution, not the solution in its entirety.
Politics to Blame
“Today, every policy position involves a political calculation: What will this mean in terms of poll numbers, campaign contributions, television ads, endorsements?” asked Bloomberg, who blamed the nation’s weak growth on partisan politics.
He said Washington needs to deal with the deficit, and “give us the levels of growth we need,” particularly through employment growth.
Bloomberg’s speech also touched on issues of education, infrastructure, and immigration.
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