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State Report: Workforce Growing in 2022, Still Needs Big Boost

A report on New York's Labor Force, prepared by the Office of Budget Policy and Analysis was released by the State Comptroller in November. The report assesses 10-year trends and pandemic setbacks.

"Collectively, these trends suggest that challenges may lie ahead with implications for employment levels, economic growth, State and local tax collections, and services supported by those taxes," according to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "While the workforce has begun growing again in 2022, it is still down by over 400,000 people from its peak in December 2019."

The report concludes:

"Employment is a good indicator of the health of an economy, but it is only half the picture. Jobs numbers represent people employed by a business at a given time and reflect the location of the employer and not the employee. Labor force statistics complete the picture as they are based on where the worker lives and not where they work, with their incomes enhancing the economies in which they live.

"New York has a well-educated workforce with an increasing share achieving a four-year degree or higher, an encouraging characteristic in a skills-based economy. Well-educated workers were also able to better weather the pandemic as they were more able to telecommute. However, New York has lost workers at the lower educational levels. These include not only salespersons, waitstaff and grocery clerks, but also tradespersons such as electricians, plumbers and mechanics. Shortages of these workers can adversely impact the State's economy.

"More broadly, New York's labor force was shrinking even before the pandemic. This was due not only to a declining population, but also a smaller share of the State's population participating in the labor force. Even though the State's workforce has been growing in 2022, it is still down by over 400,000 people from its peak in December 2019. Shrinkage of the workforce and populations in many regions of New York pose challenges to achieving overall economic growth in these areas and ensuring the long-term vitality of local communities. This trend could also result in fiscal and budgetary issues for the State and local governments. These and other issues associated with changes to the labor force merit continued attention and should be analyzed more closely as policymakers consider priorities and programs to best ensure that all regions of the State can grow and thrive.

"While New York's labor force is large, diverse and well-educated, attention should be paid to its underlying structure to attract and retain workers. To grow and maintain a healthy economy, New York must be able to create good jobs for all its residents."

Click here to read the full report.


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