New York Taking Early Steps Toward COVID Jobs Recovery

John Jordan | August 2020

ALBANY—While noting that July labor statistics are expected to be released soon, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report today that chronicled both the devastating impacts to the state’s labor force in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and the recent inroads that have been made toward recovery since the state’s economy has reopened.

DiNapoli related that New York State’s total employment count just prior to the onset of COVID-19 hit an all-time high of more than 9.8 million in February, reflecting net gains of nearly 2 million jobs since April 1996.

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a body blow to the State’s economy, with combined losses in March and April wiping out 24 years of job growth. The April decline of more than 1.9 million jobs represented the state’s largest monthly loss of jobs on record.

New York City lost 944,000 jobs from February to April, and recovered 12.9% (122,000) of those in May and June. February-to-April declines elsewhere in the state, and jobs regained in the following two months, were:

Hudson Valley region – 185,000 lost, with 24.6% (45,500) recovered.
Long Island – 296,000 jobs lost, with 29.4% (87,000) recovered.
Upstate – 519,000 lost, and 27.9% (145,000) recovered.

From February to April, the U.S. economy lost more than 22 million jobs. It regained a third of those through June and added another 1.8 million jobs in July.

Initial unemployment claims have declined sharply in New York and nationally in recent weeks. For the week ending August 8, initial claims in New York totaled just over 52,000. While still high by most historical levels, that figure compared to a peak of more than 394,000 for the week ending April 11.

Last week, the State Comptroller reported that state tax receipts of $26.4 billion through the first four months of the state fiscal year were $3 billion, or 10.2%, below the same period last year.

“The shift of the tax filing deadline from April to July this year added to the revenue uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DiNapoli said. “July numbers show more clearly the extent of the revenue damage from the pandemic, which is driving both unanticipated spending and declining tax receipts. Washington’s continued delay on further federal response leaves the state, local governments, nonprofits and others with increasingly difficult questions on how to maintain the services New Yorkers need during this national emergency.”

The State Comptroller’s July cash report also noted that Personal income tax collections totaled $18.9 billion through July, $1.4 billion, or 6.8%, lower than a year ago. Receipts from PIT withholding were 1%, or $133.1 million, below the previous year, while estimated payments were 14.4%, or more than $1.3 billion, lower.

Sales tax receipts of $4 billion for the first four months were down $1.2 billion from a year earlier, a drop of 23.1%. The year-over-year decline in July, 8.6%, was the lowest since March.

All Funds spending through July totaled $53 billion, down $2.3 billion, or 4.2%, from the previous year, including a $1.8-billion decline in local assistance grants.

The General Fund ended the month with a balance of $14.4 billion, $7.8 billion higher than July 2019, reflecting a variety of factors including short-term borrowing authorized in the State Fiscal Year 2020-21 Enacted State Budget.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth