One Year Into the Pandemic, New York City Faces a Lopsided Economic Recovery

A year after the coronavirus pandemic ground New York City’s economy to a near standstill, most big companies and white-collar employees have emerged inconvenienced but intact, while many small businesses and low-wage workers are still struggling to stay afloat. 

The economic engines that power the nation’s largest city—Wall Street, the tech industry and big corporations—have weathered the pandemic better than many initially expected. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office estimated in January that the city’s economy contracted 0.6% in 2020 compared with 2019, a far brighter picture than the 12.9% decline in gross city product predicted last April.

Still, nearly eight years after he won election on a platform of reducing income inequality, the term-limited Mr. de Blasio is preparing to leave office during a crisis that has delivered a disproportionate blow to the city’s most vulnerable residents.

New York City counted 626,400 fewer private-sector jobs by the end of January compared with a year earlier, boosting the unemployment rate to 13.1% from 3.8%. The Bronx, which already had the city’s highest jobless numbers pre-pandemic, suffered the worst, with unemployment jumping to 17.7% from 5.3%, according to the state Department of Labor.

“It’s hard to imagine how things could be any more lopsided,” said James Parrott, an economist at the New School. “Half or more of the economy is relatively unscathed. The other part of the economy, where face-to-face services are conducted and most workers are paid by the hour or on a project basis—that sector has just been devastated.”

Source: WSJ – US News

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