NYC Labor Market Took a Hard, Sustained Hit from the Pandemic

New York City Residents were hit harder and longer by the pandemic than those in the rest of the state. While both the city and the state have shown job gains since May 2020, the rebound has been modest. The road to recovery is long. Looking at the Employment to Population ratio (EPOP), we can see both are doing worse than during the Great Recession when the New York state EPOP never dropped below 57.7 percent and averaged 59.3 percent over the whole period.

The Employment to Population ratio (EPOP) shows the strength of the labor market. Unlike other unemployment measures, it does not depend on people’s effort to find work or their reason for not working; instead, it simply shows how many working-age people are working. Comparing EPOP rates over time provides a reliable labor market snapshot.

Unemployment rates (U-3) over the first three months of the pandemic in New York City, on average, were already higher (12.3 percent) than in the rest of the state (10.5 percent). By the July-September period, however, the city’s unemployment rate was half again as high as the rest of the state’s (16.7 percent vs. 9.9 percent).

By Brent Kramer, Ph.D.

Brent Kramer is a Senior Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute.