New York (NY) Unemployment Rate for January 2010 Falls

Unemployment rates for New York City and the state dipped in January, providing a faint signal that the waves of layoffs set off by the financial crisis may be subsiding.

Job seekers lined up to talk to representatives of employers at a UJA-Federation of New York Connect to Care job fair on Tuesday. The New York City jobless rate has dropped to 10.4 percent.

According to figures that the State Labor Department released on Thursday, the city’s official unemployment rate declined to 10.4 percent in January from a revised 10.5 percent in December. That was still well above the national unemployment rate, which dropped to 9.7 percent in January from 10 percent in December.

But the report, which contained annual revisions to previous estimates of job losses during the recession, reinforced the view of many economists that New York has fared considerably better than the nation since the crisis took hold two years ago.

The revisions raised the estimate of the total job loss in the city. Yet proportionally, the loss of jobs is significantly smaller for the city than for the nation.

Employment in the city peaked in August 2008, several months after the national recession began. For every 50 private-sector jobs that existed in the city back then, about 2 have been lost. By contrast, about 3 of every 50 such jobs in the nation have been lost.

“Despite the fact that this was one of the worst financial crises in more than half a century, its effect on the New York City economy was one of the mildest,” said Barbara Byrne Denham, chief economist with Eastern Consolidated, a real estate services firm in Manhattan.

“It is still kind of bumpy. I don’t think there’s going to be real job growth for at least four months, maybe longer.”

The city lost jobs in January, as it usually does when temporary workers hired for the holidays are let go. But the decline in employment in January, which totaled 72,700 jobs, was significantly smaller than the average January loss in the city over the last 10 years, which was 107,600 jobs, said James Brown, an analyst with the Labor Department.

After those numbers are adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in hiring and firing, the decline in employment in January is likely to appear as a gain. The department makes seasonal adjustments to the monthly jobs data it releases for the state, but does not adjust the city numbers. Ms. Denham calculates her own seasonal adjustment of the city numbers; by her estimate, the city added about 25,000 jobs on an adjusted basis in January, a gain that reduced the total job loss in the city during the recession to about 160,000.

“January numbers are notoriously volatile, depending on the exact timing of post-Christmas layoffs and school closings,” Mr. Brown said. “But we did see significantly fewer layoffs in the professional and business services sector than we usually get. That could be a positive sign.”

The jobs estimate and the unemployment rate are derived from separate surveys, which is one of several complications that make it possible for the unemployment rate to decline while the city is still losing thousands of jobs.

The state’s unemployment rate slipped to 8.8 percent from 8.9 percent as private-sector employers added 30,500 jobs, according to the department’s seasonally adjusted figures. That gain represented an increase of 0.4 percent and raised the number of private-sector jobs in the state to 6.99 million. The state’s public sector shrank a little in January, so the total of nonagricultural jobs increased by just 25,500, to 8.49 million.

The state’s unemployment rate has remained below the nation’s throughout the recession.

Since the state’s job count peaked in April 2008, New York has lost 352,700 jobs, or about 4.8 percent of its highest total. The state’s unemployment rate averaged 8.4 percent for all of 2009, the highest annual rate since 1992, said Peter A. Neenan, director of the department’s research division.

“Our newly revised jobs data indicate that the impact of the national recession on New York state’s economy was deeper than first estimated,” Mr. Neenan said.



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