NEW YORK—New York State and New York City’s economies have been improving since the 2008 financial crisis, said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Wednesday.
“The unemployment rate, which is obviously a very common indicator [of economic health], continues to inch down,” said DiNapoli at a breakfast for the Association for a Better New York. “6.8 percent in January, the lowest that it’s been at in the past five years.”
The state is about on par with the national average, which was 6.6 percent in January, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. At 7.8 percent, New York City’s unemployment is a bit higher but also going down.
This trend is good for workers, but also good for the government. If more New Yorkers have jobs, the government will save on social services like unemployment benefits, and receive more in income tax. It is also good for business as people who have jobs usually have more disposable income.
While the unemployment figures look good, they do not tell the whole story.
“There’s always another side, right?” said DiNapoli. “Most of the recent job growth has been concentrated in lower paying industries and jobs.”
He says the majority of the jobs created are in the retail, entertainment, and home healthcare sectors, not the high-paying Wall Street jobs that account for 16 percent of all state tax revenue.
When asked if he was concerned about this trend, DiNapoli said, “As part of diversifying the city’s economy, that’s good, but certainly we want to have more jobs at the higher end of the wage scale. It’s part of why we are putting a focus on the tech sector.”
According to a report issued by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in October, 2013, the tech-information boom was responsible for roughly one-third of private sector job creation in New York City. It is still second to the financial industry in terms of money spent on wages but has grown 11 percent since 2007. Job growth in the securities industry has declined by 12.6 percent.
DiNapoli said he hopes the tech industry can make up some of that decline. “We’re going to have a report coming out looking at the impact of the startup business in that area,” promised DiNapoli.
Holly Kellum is a special correspondent in New York.