September 2, 2012. How are New Yorkers faring? Here’s the gist of this year’s annual report from FPI on the New York State economy:

  • Unemployment in New York State has been around eight percent or higher for the past three and a half years, the longest stretch since the mid-1970s. The average duration of unemployment is currently nine months. The historic weakness of the recovery stems from the severity and nature of the Great Recession and financial collapse. Nationally, job growth has been about one third of what it has been in prior recoveries.
  • Compared to the nation: New York’s payroll job growth has been slightly better than or even with national job growth. This modest job growth has been concentrated among low-wage industries.
  • On the “unemployment rate” methodology: There is strong evidence that the reported unemployment level for New York State is overstated by about a percentage point. New York’s job growth in the recovery has been the 13th highest among all the states, yet no state had a higher reported increase in unemployment over the past two years. Even if New York’s unemployment rate is overstated, data such as the relatively high rate of initial unemployment claims show that unemployment remains a very serious problem in New York.
  • Around the state: Over the past year job growth has slowed in New York City while it has picked up in several upstate metro areas. Within the metro areas, unemployment within the cities is much higher than in the suburban parts.
  • Unemployment over the past four years has affected different New York demographic groups unevenly. For example, unemployment has been greater for men than for women, blacks in New York City have had the greatest increase in unemployment, workers aged 18-44 in New York City and less-educated workers elsewhere in the state have borne the brunt of job loss, while older workers in New York City are holding on to their jobs rather than retiring.

How does national policy figure in? According to the Economic Policy Institute’s 12th edition of The State of Working America (released September 11, 2012), rising inequality is the major cause of America’s “Lost Decade.” In turn, this inequality is linked to specific policies that have blocked growth for low- and middle-income Americans.