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Big Apple jobs slow to bounce back

New York City lags behind the rest of the country in post-pandemic pandemic jobs recovery, a new city report has found. The US has gained back “nearly all” jobs lost during the pandemic and is on course to surpass pre-pandemic employment levels this year — but the Big Apple isn’t expected to reach pre-pandemic levels “until late in 2025,” according to the Jan. 4 report from the city’s Independent Budget Office. Only around 35% of the city jobs lost in calendar year 2020 had come back by the end of 2021, according to the Jan. 4 report by the city’s nonpartisan fiscal watchdog. The city lost about 615,200 of its 4.7 million jobs in 2020 and saw just 212,600, or 35%, return in 2021, the report said. Jobs in the hardest-hit, tourist-dependent leisure and hospitality industries are especially slow to return, the report said. Wholesale and retail trade also suffered outsized job losses during the pandemic, and were expected to recover slower than sectors like professional services due, in part, to “in part due to IBO’s expectation of fewer people commuting into the city on a daily basis, as well as fewer tourists and business travelers.” Still Despite the disappointing job stats, personal income in New York City actually rose in 2021, the study found. But IBO Deputy Director George Sweeting attributed that to an increase in “transfer payments” — such as federally increased unemployment benefits, refundable tax credits and direct stimulus payouts — which rose more than wages fell. “It’s the increase in the transfer payments that has sustained personal income,” he said, That presents “a reason to be concerned” as transfer payments taper off, Sweeting warned on Thursday. Meanwhile, Wall Street profits for 2021 were among the highest on record, but Sweeting attributed those to loose federal monetary policy. But Wall Street’s outlook for 2022 will be “a little more cautious,” as the Fed is expected to start to tighten the spigot, he said. Though 2022’s record $102.8 billion budget is balanced, thanks to about $13 billion in federal aid, the IBO projected “modest” budget shortfalls of about $1.5 billion for 2023, 2024 and 2025. Sweeting said continued remote work — which hurts commercial real estate profits and the sales-tax rate — was one “pressure point” on the city’s fiscal outlook.

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