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Monday, June 27, 2022

Fewer Americans got laid off last week. What does that mean for New York?

Without the seasonal adjustment, the picture is less dramatic: there were actually 18,187 more new claims than in the previous week, but that was fewer new claims than government economists had expected. The peculiar nature of the pandemic recovery has seemed to challenge the country’s economic models, with larger-than-usual revisions made to previously reported data, like employment figures.

There is a New York state number but it is not seasonally adjusted. For the week ending Nov. 20, it was 14,659, “a level that is far from the lowest weekly level at a multitude of points in recent years,” according to James Parrott, an economist who studies the city at the Center for New York City Affairs.

In New York City, there is evidence that pandemic-related job losses have stopped. In October, the month after federal pandemic unemployment supplements ended, city employers added 40,200 positions. The number of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications, which employers are required to file when they let go of 50 or more from a single location, has grown noticeably slowly all year.

Still, the city has so far added only about 170,000 positions all year, nowhere near the 400,000 its Office of Management and Budget predicted in April 2021; there are about 416,000 lost positions compared to the six month period before the closures. The city’s labor force and its labor force participation rate are both below pre-pandemic levels, meaning that some of the missing jobs simply will not be filled by those who used to work in them.

On Nov. 16, Gov. Kathy Hochul looked to juice the recovery by adding a $5,000-per-worker incentive to companies in tourism that hired workers and retained them for six months, amounting to a $100 million advance on employment.

With the larger federal economic relief programs ended, it’s possible that a new wave of closures could come eventually if businesses that have hung on until now throw in the towel.

For example, two-thirds of city restaurants that applied did not receive economic relief from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

“The government made it easier for one-third of restaurants, and that inadvertently and unintentionally made it harder for the other two-thirds,” said Gabriel Stulman, a West Village restaurateur who closed half of his eateries over the last year-plus. “But the fallout might not be seen for years.”

Another unknown that could affect employment is President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for private companies with more than 100 employees, which was supposed to take effect in January. However, a U.S. court of appeals stayed the mandate earlier this month.

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