Mayor Eric Adams announced on October 19th that New York City had regained the nearly 1 million jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to September 2023 NY State Labor Department data ( with analysis by the New York City Office of Management and Budget). The City’s private sector employment, at 4.126 million, had broken past the February 2020 private employment number of 4.108 million.
The milestone is good news. In fact, I had written the City was on the cusp of this success a few months ago. In that article, I pointed out that the City’s recovery was significant because its economy was coming back from nearly the worst job losses in the entire nation at the height of the pandemic, when the City’s private sector lost 23% of its jobs.
While reaching the job recovery milestone is worthy of celebration, in fact the City’s job recovery slowed significantly in 2023. As this table, which shows New York City total and private sector employment from February 2020 through September 2023, taken from NYC OMB’s data, the City gained only 20,000 jobs in the first six months of 2023:
In the winter and spring of 2023, the tech sector in New York City, including major firms like Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) laid off thousands of workers. The information sector of the economy lost 17,000 jobs from December 2022 to June 2023. Trade and transportation lost about 10,000 jobs during this same period, while health and social assistance gained sufficient jobs to offset these losses (See NYC OMB jobs data, supra). Overall, however, the City has gained 37,000 jobs since June.
The City might have reached the pandemic recovery jobs numbers this summer but for the AFTRA strike. The strike has affected 45,000 jobs nationwide, with New York City the second largest location after Hollywood. The information sector in the City dropped another 10,000 jobs since June 2023, and there are likely significant secondary job losses in other sectors with the decline in film and tv production in the City. A resolution of the strike could restore many thousands of jobs in the City.
Dr. James Parrott, director of economic and fiscal policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, discussed the severe disparities that continue in the City in a New York Times article on the job milestone. They include the substitution of lower-paying jobs in health care and social assistance for jobs in retail, high unemployment in the Black community, a decline in household income adjusted for inflation, and continued poverty.
A major concern for the State government is that, for all New York City’s problems, the City’s job growth dominates State job growth. According to the New York State Labor Department’s September 2023 press release on job growth in New York, New York City private sector job gains were two-thirds of the entire job gains across the State. While the City has finally broken past the pre-pandemic numbers, the State as a whole is further behind.
The fact that the City’s economy is the healthiest part of the State means the State can ill afford not to help the City with the migrant crisis and its impacts on the City budget.
As the holiday and peak tourist season approach, it’s vital to keep a close eye on the ability of the City economy to continue growing.