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Slow Growth in NY Jobs: 1 in 6 still Jobless or Underemployed

September 8, 2010

NEW YORK - The employment picture is looking up in New York, according to a new report – although not enough to say the state has truly escaped the grips of the Great Recession. The Fiscal Policy Institute research shows New York City added 67,000 jobs in 2010, says the group's chief economist, James Parrott.

Job growth also inched up slightly in the suburbs and upstate, which combined for a total of just under 10,000 new jobs. Still, says Parrott, New York has a long way to go to make up for all the jobs lost during the last two years.

"There are a million-and-a-half New Yorkers who are unemployed or under-employed; that's about one out of every six. Weekly earnings are down, three to five or six percent, for most workers."

A big reason earnings have declined, explains Parrott, is that one-half of New York's unemployed have been out of work for six months or more, and prolonged unemployment reduces workers' overall bargaining power and decreases their chances of gaining higher wages.

Parrott says the new data shows federal stimulus spending added 200,000 jobs in New York, which contradicts fiscal conservatives who prefer to focus on the negative impacts of deficit spending.

"The argument is that the budget and the tax burden in New York is holding back economic growth. The reality is that upstate metro areas have fared better in this recession, and over the last four years, than most metro areas around the country."

President Obama has unveiled plans to combat unemployment with more spending on infrastructure. While Parrott believes it's a good move, he cautions that it must be supplemented with more direct aid to the states, further extended unemployment benefits, and more direct job creation measures.

"$50 billion in infrastructure is certainly needed and will help increase the long-term productivity and efficiency of the national economy, but it's not going to do enough to bring the unemployment rate down in the short run."

The report is online at www.fiscalpolicy.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY