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New York's Dismal Unemployment Numbers Mean 1 In 7 Out Of Work

New York Unemployment 2

First Posted: 09/ 2/2011 4:44 pm Updated: 11/ 2/2011 6:12 am

NEW YORK -- The state, and particularly the city, of New York may be doing well compared to the rest of the country, but nearly two years after the Great Recession technically ended, the jobs market is still miserable.

The state's official July 2011 unemployment rate of 8 percent, more than a point lower than the country as a whole, doesn't tell the full story of the economic downturn's toll, according to a new report from the union-backed Fiscal Policy Institute. The rate doesn't take into account New Yorkers who have simply given up on finding a job, the report says.

When you factor in discouraged job-seekers along with the underemployed, one in seven New Yorkers, or 1.4 million people, are out of work -- a depressing 9.6 percent of the workforce, according to the report released on Wednesday.

The out-of-work are so disheartened, said James Parrott, chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute, "because job growth has been anemic, and duration of unemployment has been at record long levels, so people give up looking for work."

For New York state to get back to where it stood before the recession, it would need to add an additional 512,000 jobs -- at a time when the entire country added zero new jobs this month, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Particularly down on their luck are the Hudson valley, which lost 4 percent of its jobs over the last three years, and suburban downstate counties, which have chalked up a 3.6 percent job loss.

Black and Latino unemployment rates are also sky high compared to those for other racial and ethnic groups in New York. The report says that unemployment was 15.6 percent among blacks and 11.7 percent among Hispanics in the first half of 2011 -- in both cases about twice as worse as the rates from 2007-2008.

"They were sort of the last hired and the first to be fired," Parrott said.

He noted that while New York City has weathered the recession relatively well, "in the areas where job growth has occurred over the last couple of years -- to the extent that that's professional services, whites hold a disproportionate number of jobs."

It's even possible, Parrott added, that recent college graduates coming from out of state have crowded out some opportunities for Latinos.

"In the restaurant sector, it's probably the case that Hispanics would have been more likely to get some of those jobs that have been going to whites," Parrott said.

Parrott said he believes the solutions lie mostly out of state. It would be "impossible" for New York to fix the jobs crisis on its own, he said. "There have to be the right sort of policies out of Washington. Hopefully the president's speech next week will be ambitious."

President Obama will address a joint session of Congress next Thursday with his plan for improving the employment outlook.

The Fiscal Policy Institute's prescription calls for more federal stimulus. New York State might be able to do something at the margins, Parrott said, by keeping 20-30,000 public employees on the payroll if it retains the "millionaire's tax" on high-income earners, set to expire at the end of the year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo opposes extending the tax.

"We're starting to see the adverse effects of a state budget balanced entirely on the cuts side," Parrott said.

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