11:05am

Wed November 30, 2011
Politics and Government

Report: Economic slump cost NY 500,000 jobs

A report by a policy think tank finds that 500,000 job opportunities were lost in New York in the three year long economic slump, representing a total income loss of $31 billion dollars a year. 

Fiscal Policy Institute, a union backed think tank, studied employment and other data and concluded that 400,000 jobs were eliminated in the state of New York since the Great Recession began. It estimates another 96,000 new jobs were never created because the number of fledgling start up businesses declined. The total is nearly half a billion lost employment opportunities since 2008. The lost jobs , combined with wage and income declines, total  $31 billion dollars in lost income per year.

“It’s not just the jobs we lost, but it’s the jobs we should have had, given continued growth in the working age population in New York State ,” said FPI economist James Parrott, who authored the report.

Parrott says the 500,000 jobs are the amount that’s needed just to bring the state back to the pre recession 4.5% unemployment levels of 2007.

Some jobs were created during the recession and its aftermath. 82,000 low wage jobs, paying $45,000 a year or less, were created in the restaurant, and home health care industries.  The only group to see increased salaries  over the past three years is business managers in the financial industry on Wall Street, the report says.

The study also finds that the rich are getting richer and the middle class and poor are either stagnating or losing ground, and Parrott says that’s not a surprise. He says historically, from the end of World War Two through the 1970’s, the top 1% of income earners held around 10% of all income wealth. Since 1980, that number has been growing. In 2007 the top 1% of earners collected 35% of total income wealth statewide, and 44% in New York City.   

Parrott says if New Yorkers had shared more widely in the nearly three decades of growing prosperity the average salary statewide would be $96,000, compared to the current $64,000.

“We would have a more sustainable economy today,” said Parrot. “The debt burdens would not be as great”.

Parrott says middle class and working class New Yorkers would have more money to buy needed items and save for their children’s college.   

The report also finds that food stamp usage is up by around 65%, and more than half a billion more New Yorkers lack health insurance.  

Fiscal Policy Institute recommends steps that state lawmakers can take to help alleviate unemployment. They recommend raising the state’s minimum wage and unemployment insurance benefits, and continuing an income tax surcharge on the state’s wealthiest. Parrott says the tax on millionaires would help curb spending cuts, which lead to more lay offs, and even greater job loss.  

“Hopefully this report will help focus people on the need to do something to improve the state of the economy,” said Parrott. “So that people can get back to work.”