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Jobs Picture Is Suddenly Sunnier in New York as Unemployment Sinks

April 16, 2010
Related Topics: Corporate Culture, Financial Impact, Latest News
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New York City’s economy roared to life in March as employers added 14,400 jobs and the unemployment rate continued a three-month decline.

The growth spanned the city economy, with construction adding 2,500 jobs, retail trade rising by 2,000 positions and restaurants adding 900 jobs, according to an analysis of state Department of Labor data by real estate service firm Eastern Consolidated.

“You don’t want to get too carried away as it’s only one month, but we did have very strong job growth by historical standards,” said James Brown, principal economist at the state Department of Labor.

Unseasonably warm temperatures may have prompted the growth in certain industries that are sensitive to the weather, according Barbara Byrne Denham, chief economist at Eastern Consolidated. Health services posted a 1,500-job gain, though the industry’s run of good luck could end with the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital.

The unemployment rate dipped to 10 percent from 10.2 percent, and the year-over-year jobs picture is showing significant improvement. Between August 2008 and August 2009, the city lost 135,400 jobs, but between March 2009 and March 2010, the loss slid to 35,400.

“The rapid improvement in the over-the-year picture and the stabilizing of unemployment rate are usually what you see when you start to get into recovery,” Brown said.

Indeed, the number of unemployed in the city—at 397,200—is at its lowest level since July, when 395,800 New Yorkers were jobless.

The one bit of bad news was that the securities industry was just about the only sector that exhibited weakness in March, shedding 700 jobs. The losses in securities may be indicative of continued consolidation of some of the big firms, or they could just be severance packages expiring, Byrne Denhem said.

Economists consider the strength of Wall Street a vital component to a robust recovery in the city.

“While it may be premature to suggest the recession is over, given the losses in securities, this positive report should spur further optimism in other industries as many may conclude the worst is in the past,” Byrne Denhem said.

Year-to-date job growth in the city now stands at 36,900 jobs and the net loss in jobs since the August 2008 employment peak has fallen to 147,600 jobs, Eastern Consolidated reported.  

Filed by Daniel Massey of Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

 

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