Blame New York pols for the city’s high jobless rate

Unemployment has returned to near pre-pandemic levels for much of the nation, hitting about 3.8% in January. But in New York City, it’s 7.6%, double the national rate, among the worst of all major US cities and nearly twice the pre-COVID level.

It’s mainly lower-income and minority New Yorkers left jobless. Yet much of the blame for the city’s job woes lies with misguided policies — on crime, taxes, business regulations, transit and, of course, COVID mandates — imposed by the very pols who claim to champion them.

Yes, economists cite the reluctance of workers to return to their offices and the still-lagging tourism sector as key factors to explain Gotham’s job woes.

“With folks not coming back to the office, all the office-adjacent employers have been slow to recover,” notes Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner. “You need to have people back in the office for folks to reopen restaurants or re-staff restaurants.”

Sure, some would rather stick to their comfy COVID workday lifestyle — working in sweatpants from home — than schlep back into the city. But the fact that crime is up 45% over last year, with shootings up 66% over 2020, doesn’t make returning more attractive.

Nor does the fact that commuting, particularly via the subway, risks encountering crazies who occasionally push riders in front of trains.

Some workers, too, may be saving money by working from lower-tax states. Plus, the unvaxxed still aren’t allowed back into their offices, per Mayors Bill de Blasio and Eric Adams — though COVID is no longer a real threat and Adams has pleaded for workers to come back.

Meanwhile, New York work rules (the minimum wage, paid sick leave, etc.) make it hard for businesses — especially small, mom-and-pop shops — to hire workers even when the economy is bustling, let alone when demand is weak.

Let’s be honest: It’s New York pols, in City Hall and Albany, who make the work rules, set the taxes and even affect crime rates via lax or tough law-enforcement policies. If they truly want office workers back and jobless levels to drop to levels enjoyed by most of America, they need to reexamine those policies.


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