Among the hardest hit cities from the Covid pandemic was New York: it was a hotbed for cases early on, much of the city relies on tourism and hospitality for income, and the Mayor - well, he's the slightest bit in over his head.
As we move past the one year anniversary of when those in government finally figured out that Covid could be a problem, the country - including New York - is finally starting to re-open. But the pace of that re-opening is modest, at best, the New York Times pointed out this week.
While trends are moving in the right direction - for example, New York City’s official unemployment rate declined slightly to 11.4 percent in April, from 11.7 percent in March - the speed with which the recovery has taken hold isn't accelerating anywhere near as quickly as the city was shut down.
Of those additions, 15,000 restaurant jobs came back last month and the city's restaurants had 3 times as many employees last month as they did in April 2020, during the worst of the shut down.
Barbara Byrne Denham, senior economist at Oxford Economics, told the NYT: “For the restaurants, we have two very strong forces at work. Most of them are allowed to reopen, and many people are very eager to eat out.”
Heading into May, New York has added back about 375,000 of the 900,000 total jobs it lost due to Covid. Economists think it will still take "at least a couple years" for those numbers to go back to normal. James Parrott, an economist with the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, thinks a full recovery may not come until 2023 or 2024. He called April's gains in New York a "relatively strong rebound".
New York had "been on a decade-long expansion that produced more jobs and lower unemployment than at any time on record" heading into the pandemic. Unemployment was below 4% for 11 straight months and wages were rising at a "robust rate" for several years.
But in those two months in 2020, government lockdowns were successful in shuttering all of those gains, and unemployment spiked to 20%.
Denham continued: “New York City has trailed the rest of the U.S. every single month on every single measure. The city lost more jobs and a higher share of its jobs than any other city did, and only Las Vegas has recovered more slowly than New York."
Nationwide, the U.S. added just 266,000 jobs last month. Elena Volovelsky, a labor market analyst for the state Department of Labor, still thinks New York City's rate of recovery lacks the nationwide pace. "In the next few months, the recovery of jobs in hotels and other business that cater to tourists could become more robust," she said. "Hotel employment has yet to rebound and remains weak, having lost about 37,000 jobs since last year."