According to a Quarterly Economic Update of the City’s economic performance in the fourth quarter of 2015 released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, New York City’s unemployment rate fell below the national average for the first time since 2011.
New York City created more than 90,000 private-sector jobs in 2015, the fifth straight year it has accomplished that feat. Unemployment continues to decline and more New Yorkers are employed than ever before in modern history, Stringer said. But he expressed one concern: more than half of those new jobs were in low-wage sectors.
“Too many of these new jobs are in low-wage industries, a sector of our economy that has seen a decline in real wages during our recovery from the Great Recession,” said Stringer. “When wages are decreasing for hardworking, low-income New Yorkers, they can’t afford to raise their families and build our communities, which is why we must continue to push to raise the wage and ensure all workers share in our economic gains.”
Also foreboding was a decline in wages. From 2009 to 2015, after adjusting for inflation, real wages for private-sector workers declined in all boroughs except for Manhattan (where they increased by 7.5 percent). The biggest decline was seen in Queens where wages decline 3.0 percent; Next was 2.9 percent in Brooklyn; 2.5 percent in the Bronx; and 1.6 percent in Staten Island.
Jobs, Unemployment and Wages
- The City added a net total of 10,700 private sector jobs in the fourth quarter as compared to an increase of 27,200 in the third quarter of 2015. High-wage sectors added 6,400 jobs and low-wage sectors added 9,000 jobs while medium-wage sectors, including professions such as education and health care, lost 4,700 jobs.
- In total, New York City created 97,700 new jobs in 2015. However, the City’s quarterly private-sector job growth of 1.2 percent was below the national growth of 2.4 percent.
- New York City civilian employment reached a record level of about 4 million, as the City’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5.4 percent in the third quarter and the employment-to-population ratio reached a record 57.8 percent.
- Of the City’s total private-sector job gains in the fourth quarter, 84 percent were in export sectors, which generate income from outside the city.
Real Estate Market Strengthened
- The City’s vacancy rate for commercial property in Manhattan fell to 8.5%, its lowest fourth-quarter level since 2008.
- On a year-over-year basis, the commercial vacancy rate dropped one percentage point in Midtown, 0.9 percentage points in Midtown South, and 0.3 percentage points in Downtown.
- Residential apartment sales in Queens rose 32.7 percent in the fourth quarter, followed by a 24.5 percent increase in Brooklyn and 9.4 percent growth in Manhattan. Home prices increased in all three boroughs.
“New York City continues to be the engine that could, with robust job growth and economic expansion outpacing the nation,” Stringer said.
“However, not enough New Yorkers are feeling the recovery where it matters the most: in their wallets. While the City’s economy continued to grow through 2015, the prospects for strong growth in 2016 have diminished with recent volatility in the stock markets and a global economic slowdown. As always, my office will continue to monitor economic indicators and evaluate how shifts in the broader economy impact the city,” Stringer said.
To see the full economic quarterly report, click here.