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The Foreboding Footnote to NYC's Job Growth

Lower-paying jobs make up most of the city's expected job growth for the next two years as health care and social services positions flourish.

January 19, 2012
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The industries expected to lead job growth in New York City over the next two years have annual average wages below the citywide mean of $77,997, a new analysis by the city's Independent Budget Office shows.

The IBO projects education, health care and social services will account for nearly 40 percent of the 89,000 jobs the city is projected to gain over the next two years.

Some 15,000 jobs will be created in health services, where salaries average roughly $54,900 a year. About 10,000 jobs are expected to be added in education, where the average salary is nearly $52,600. And another 7,000 jobs will be gained in social assistance, where annual salaries average just $27,800.

The average salary is even lower for workers in the leisure and hospitality industry, which is expected to post a gain of 19,600 jobs over the next two years. Food service and drinking places will add 15,000 of those jobs, at an average salary of just $24,050, though tips can help increase take-home pay.

"It's certainly better to be gaining jobs than to be losing them, but if the jobs we're gaining don't pay as much as those we've lost, there's less of a bounce for the local economy and tax revenue," said Doug Turetsky, the IBO's chief of staff, who recently wrote a blog post on the issue.

One bright spot in terms of job growth in a high-paying sector is professional and business services, which is slated to add 19,200 jobs through the end of 2013, according to the IBO report. About 11,000 of those jobs are projected to be in professional and technical services. This portion of professional and business services includes lawyers, accountants, and computer programmers and has an average salary of $109,500.

The city is expected to continue losing high-paying Wall Street jobs through the middle of this year, according to an estimate from Moody's Analytics. Positions in that sector average $360,000 and typically drive growth in the city economy.

A report released Wednesday by the United States Conference of Mayors seemed to agree with the IBO findings. The report said that education and health services and professional and business services will drive employment growth in the New York City area, with job levels returning to their pre-recession peak by 2014.

Filed by Daniel Massey of Crain's New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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