NYC’s employment picture brightens as it recovers jobs lost in pandemic

New York City has recovered 99.4% of private-sector jobs it lost in the pandemic, but unevenly across key industries, according to a study released Friday by state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“We are seeing strength in the securities, transportation and warehousing and office sectors,” DiNapoli said “but retail, restaurants, construction and tourism continue to lag the national recovery.”

We need to ensure the city’s economic recovery is more robust and inclusive of all New Yorkers, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

Bloomberg News

According to the analysis, the securities sector didn’t see a notable drop in employment at the onset of the pandemic, since most employees were able to shift to working remotely.

While the securities sector saw fluctuations in employment, job growth continued to surpass that of the rest of the state with the sector 6.4% larger now than in 2019. However, profits fell to $25.8 billion in 2022, 55.8% less than in the previous year.

The office sector, which includes the information, financial and real estate and professional and business services industries, regained pandemic job losses by January.

As of March, jobs in the sector were almost 4% above the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

“Workers continue to return to the office, with the latest data showing an office occupancy rate of nearly 60% on peak days, such as Tuesdays,” the report said. “However, concerns over commercial office space linger as vacancy rates remained at 22.2% in the first quarter of 2023.”

The arts, entertainment and recreation sector saw an uptick in employment in March. The sector has recovered about 85% of pre-pandemic jobs, lagging the national job recovery rate for the sector of 96.4%.

Broadway, which is one of the largest shares of the sector, reopened in September 2021, but has been slow to come back. Attendance exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time in January, the report said, but has remained below pre-pandemic levels since then.

As of March, the restaurant sector has recovered 95.5% of pre-pandemic jobs, a bit below the rest of the state at 97.3% and the nation, which has already fully recovered. But to put that in perspective, at the height of the pandemic, restaurants lost 73% of jobs compared to 22% in the rest of the private sector.

Retailers have only regained 87.4% of jobs in the city compared to the nation which fully recovered its retail jobs as of March.

The retail sector in the city saw a 33% drop in jobs between March and April 2020 due to pandemic and mandatory closures of non-essential retail businesses.

According to the city’s fiscal 2024 financial plan, the sector is not expected to recover its pandemic job losses before 2027.

In the transportation sector, the Port of New York and New Jersey surpassed Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, to become the biggest port by number of large shipping containers.

DiNapoli said while the overall improvement in the city’s economy was good news, the lagging retail, restaurant, construction and tourism areas were a cause for concern.

“We need these sectors, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers, to also regain their full pre-pandemic strength to ensure the city’s economic recovery is more robust and inclusive of all New Yorkers,” DiNapoli said.

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