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NY’s Labor Force Still Below Pre-Pandemic Peak: Comptroller

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What to Know

  • New York’s labor force, one of the nation’s largest, still remains below the pre-pandemic peak, this according to a report released Tuesday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
  • DiNapoli’s report, goes on to say that even as the workforce began growing in 2022, New York is still 400,000 workers below the December 2019 peak.
  • The report found that labor force participation rates were highest for Hispanics with over 61% on average over the 10-year period — the only group for whom labor force participation rates did not decline during the pandemic.

New York’s labor force, one of the nation’s largest, still remains below the pre-pandemic peak, this according to a report released Tuesday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

According to the report, although the labor force decreased by 1% between 2011 and 2021 while the rest of the nation increased by 5.1%, a rebound took place in the latter half of the last decade. This took place before the world shutdown during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Due to this, the labor force took a dive with New York continuing to lose workers in 2021 — even as the rest of the nation began to recover. DiNapoli’s report, goes on to say that even as the workforce began growing in 2022, New York is still 400,000 workers below the December 2019 peak.

“New York’s labor force is the backbone of our state’s economy, and its strength has been its diversity, high levels of education and unionization,” DiNapoli said. “But my report shows troubling long-term trends were exacerbated by the pandemic and may be impeding New York’s recovery.”

The report also looked into the reason behind the decline and found that it was partly due to population changes and a relatively lower share of workers participating in the workforce. According to the report, the state’s 10-year average participation rate was 40th in the nation, with the participation rate at 59%, almost 3 percentage points lower than the rest of the nation in 2021.

Additionally, DiNapoli’s report found that the impacts of the pandemic were profound in New York, not just as the epicenter of cases at the height of COVID, but as a result, New York had a pandemic recession that lasted longer than the rest of the U.S. This translated to an unemployment rate was 9.9% in 2020, nearly two percentage points higher than the rest of the nation.

By 2021, New York’s 6.9% unemployment rate was the nation’s third highest, led by high unemployment in New York City.

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The report also found that the state a significant share of underemployed workers. Underemployed workers were defined in the report to “include underutilized, marginally attached and discouraged workers. Underutilized workers are employed part-time but want full-time work.”

According to DiNapoli, these underutilized workers made up a larger share of the workforce in New York (3.8%) compared to the rest of the nation (3%) in 2021.

The report also looked into unemployment among people with disabilities and found that in 2019, New York’s unemployment rate for this specific group of workers in the labor force was at its lowest in over 10 years. However, with the pandemic the rate of underemployment among people with disabilities grew in 2020 and remained high the following year, at a rate almost twice that of people without a disability.

Additionally, the report found that labor force participation rates were highest for Hispanics with over 61% on average over the 10-year period — the only group for whom labor force participation rates did not decline during the pandemic.

For the complete report and additional findings, click here.

Source: NBC New York

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