Crain’s New York


Comptroller: Number of NYC jobless largest since ‘92


By Daniel Massey

Published: August 24, 2009 - 3:07 pm


More than 400,000 New York City residents are currently unemployed, the highest number since July 1992, according to an analysis of state Department of Labor data released Monday by City Comptroller William Thompson.


But the recession’s force has hit an even wider group than that—some 170,000 New Yorkers were involuntarily working part-time in the first half of 2009, an increase of 70% from the year earlier, the comptroller said.


“Unemployment and underemployment are causing many New Yorkers to suffer immensely during this recession,” the comptroller wrote.


Underemployment in the city has particularly affected women, who accounted for a majority of the increase in involuntary part-time work, the comptroller said. It was not immediately clear why women were hit so hard, though Mr. Thompson said it was probably related to the mix of industries and occupations in the city.


While the number of unemployed who have been without work for fewer than five weeks decreased in the second quarter from the previous one, the number of New Yorkers unemployed for 15 to 26 weeks skyrocketed 212%, to nearly 100,000. Some 130,000 New Yorkers have been unemployed and searching for work for more than six months, up 128% over last year.


After outpacing other racial and ethnic groups in unemployment growth in the first quarter, the number of African-Americans who were unemployed decreased from the first quarter to the second quarter. But rather than being good news, the decrease could be attributed to workers becoming discouraged at their job prospects and giving up their search, Mr. Thompson said.


That would seem to agree with figures released by the Fiscal Policy Institute last week, which showed that, including those who have given up looking for work and those involuntarily working part time, the African-American male unemployment rate is 26.9%.


The city’s overall unemployment rate climbed to 9.6% last month, topping the national unemployment rate for the first time since November 2007.


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