Comptroller: New York Reached Record Employment Last Year

New York's employment topped 9 million jobs last year, a record with 538,000 added since the recession, the state comptroller reported Monday.

The report showed 143,000 jobs added in 2014, capping four years of steady gains. But growth was uneven statewide, with New York City gaining three-fourths of the total, while four upstate regions lost jobs, led by the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier.

"While unemployment has dropped sharply, more New Yorkers are relying on part-time jobs or have dropped out of the labor force," Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. "Bright spots include fast-rising wages in the finance and information sectors, and signs of new growth in the western New York economy."

In those sectors, average wages rose more than 25 percent from 2009 to 2014. Wages overall rose 14 percent statewide, ahead of the 10.3 percent U.S. inflation rate for the period, according to the report.

Other data showed highest job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector, up nearly 22 percent over the past five years. Education and health services — New York's largest employment sector — added 40,000 new jobs last year, followed by 28,800 in leisure and hospitality.

"Each region has a different picture," DiNapoli said. "Depending on where you're living in the state you may be benefiting from this or you may not be."

The report showed 11.3 percent job growth in New York City over five years, 4.9 percent on Long Island, 2.4 percent in the Hudson Valley, 2.1 percent in the Finger Lakes, 2 percent in the greater Albany area and 1.5 percent in western New York.

Reported declines were 0.1 percent in Central New York, 1.5 percent in the North Country, 2.2 percent in the Southern Tier and 2.5 percent in the Mohawk Valley.

Federal, state and local governments dropped 87,000 jobs, becoming New York's third-largest employment sector, now behind trade, transportation and utilities. The state showed a 5 percent drop in manufacturing jobs.

The overall 6.3 percent job increase slightly outpaced the national rise of 6 percent over five years, the report said. It added a caution about future prospects, noting the state's participation rate among potential workers dropped to 60.7 percent last year, the lowest level in more than a decade.

"Both nationally and in New York, the proportion of working-age individuals who were in the labor force experienced a sixth consecutive drop in 2014," according to the report. "Such declining labor force participation may reflect broader trends such as an aging population and workers' difficulty in finding desirable jobs. Long-term continuation of the trend could limit prospects for overall economic growth, according to some economists."

New York's average unemployment rate was 6.4 percent last year, down more than 2 percentage points from two years earlier, but still two points higher than the rate in 2006, the last full year before the recession.

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