Slightly brighter jobs numbers show Eric Adams’ economic plan has work to do

New York’s pandemic-hit economy is in better shape than expected, according to new figures from the state Department of Labor, with more jobs clawed back in the past two years – although it there will still be nearly 300,000 less than before the COVID hit.

It’s a boost for Mayor Eric Adams, who on Thursday released a sprawling 70-point ‘plan’ to revive the city’s economy, which he said he wanted to be ‘safe, clean, reliable, unbureaucratic. “.

“We will never be the same again. COVID has changed the game and we have to be prepared to win in the post-COVID game,” Adams said at a Thursday news conference in Bronx’s Hunts Point.

To that end, his administration seeks to revitalize the city’s economy through measures to advance public safety and attract tourism; support companies by offering streamlined services; and to grow the economy and advance investment in emerging industries such as cannabis, life sciences and clean energy.

“It covers a lot of bases, but there are a lot of bases to cover. It’s a good start,” said Andrew Rein, chairman of the nonprofit watchdog Citizens Budget Commission. “He’s a person who speaks to businesses and communities and gets feedback, and we haven’t seen enough of that in the last few years.”

Revised figures released Thursday by the state put unemployment in December at 7.4%, instead of the 8.8% initially announced.

The plan

For the administration to implement the full plan, it will need to find $70 million in new funds on top of Adams’ proposed $98 billion preliminary budget, according to a spokesperson for the mayor.

It would also require an additional $200 million for new capital commitments for investments such as building a “Vertical Ground Manufacturing” center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“We believe the investments and initiatives in this plan will accelerate the economy and help us return to our city’s pre-pandemic employment rates more quickly,” said Maria Torres-Springer, deputy mayor for economic development. and manpower. “But if all we do is go back to the economy that existed in February 2020, we won’t have really delivered for all New Yorkers.”

It’s unclear where the money will come from and what will ultimately end up in the city’s budget, although negotiations are ongoing. Adams’ proposed preliminary budget has raised concerns that the stated priorities do not match the finances.

“He says very good things but the question is, where does he put his money?” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of the organization ALIGN, a union-funded group that promotes green jobs.

She wondered how initiatives such as expanded street cleaning and beautification projects would perform given the mayor’s proposal to cut the sanitation department’s budget by nearly $48 million and cut composting expansion plans.

Rein of the Citizens Budget Committee pointed out that what was missing from the plan were details: program costs, jobs targets and a timeline for setting up a business portal. , for example.

“[It’s] important to have a tracking system in place to ensure these plans are executed,” he said.

Seeking to move forward with plans to allow outdated office buildings to be converted to residential use, the mayor said he and Governor Kathy Hochul would establish a task force to come up with strategies on how the region can adapt to changes in work resulting from the pandemic. It is unclear whether this group will replace a task force to be created under legislation passed in December, which was given two years to assess changes needed for the city’s business districts.

This task force is one of 10 new groups the mayor has proposed convening to examine trade corridors, define new career paths in the green economy, and advise on the film industry, among other activities.

Economic recovery

Adams announced his plan the same day the state Department of Labor released revised numbers that showed the city’s job growth last year was much stronger and the unemployment rate was down slightly. lower than originally announced.

The new figures show the city added 60,000 more jobs last year than originally expected, with the biggest gains in the hard-hit areas of leisure and hospitality, particularly restaurants, as well as the trade and transport.

The state revised New York City’s unemployment rate sharply down for December to 7.4% from 8.8%.

With the addition of 32,000 positions in January, New York has recovered 670,000 of the 971,000 jobs lost during the economy shutdown in 2020. If the city could maintain this pace, it would recover all the jobs lost by the end of the year. Last month, the mayor and the Independent Budget Office estimated that a return to the pre-pandemic employment record of 4.7 million would take until 2023.

“Monthly gains in December and January indicate that the pace of the recovery is accelerating,” said James Parrott, an economist at the New School who closely follows the city’s economy.

Yet the city has only recovered 70% of the jobs it lost during the pandemic, compared to 90% for the country as a whole. The unemployment rate in January fell from 7.4% to 7.6%, nearly double the national rate of 4.0%.

Vocational Training Review

As expected since Adams added the word “workforce” to the title of Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer, his plan outlines a major overhaul of the city’s job training system – described even by those who work there. as disjointed, with as many as 21 city agencies involved with little coordination.

Jose Ortiz Jr., then executive director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition and now a senior adviser to Torres Springer, told THE CITY the kind of approach needed — one that “integrates training and earnings.”

The mayor has promised a centralized portal to connect job seekers to training programs, focus on jobs that pave the way to higher-paying positions over entry-level jobs, increase child care and allowances available to those in training programs, and adding financial counseling and other services to training programs.

He also focused on helping workers on the fringes, proposing to apply minimum labor standards to more app-based delivery workers and providing more ‘legal business opportunities’ for street vendors. .

An East Village employee prepares to deliver groceries, February 22, 2022.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

“Every aspect of the economic impact of the pandemic has hit low-income New Yorkers hard, while exacerbating the gap between high-paying and low-paying jobs in the city. That’s why it’s so important that the mayor’s plan offers a strategy for investing together in economic and workforce development,” said Eli Dvorkin, editorial and policy director at the Center for an Urban Future.

In January, defenders aligned with Ortiz called for increasing labor spending to at least $100 million a year. The plan does not specify how much money will be spent, and Dvorkin noted that the next step must be a substantial injection of funds.

Still, the focus on mobilizing investment in the pipeline for job creation in communities often left behind – like the $191 million commitment to building the offshore wind industry – was encouraging for those who, for years, have been pushing just that.

“A smart transition to a green economy will create good jobs and advance racial justice,” said Jeff Vockrodt, executive director of labor coalition Climate Jobs NY.

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