More than two years after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people in New York City continue to face double-digit unemployment, with young men experiencing the greatest challenges in finding work, according to a report released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds stands at nearly 18% in the city, as compared to about 9% in the rest of New York state and 8% nationally. In comparison, overall unemployment is currently 5.6% in New York City, and 3.4% in the nation.
“The city must take steps to strengthen career opportunities for young job seekers or the city’s economic recovery will be stifled even further,” DiNapoli said. “The recovery is much slower for young workers in New York City when compared to the rest of the state and the country and has had a particularly profound impact on young people of color and young men.”
DiNapoli’s report found unemployment rates among young people in the city are recovering at a much slower pace due to the city being the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment in 2020 for 16- to 24-year-olds in the city reached 22%, while in the rest of New York state it was 16.5%, and 15.9% across the United States. The pandemic not only caused staggering job losses in 2020, but devastated industries that employ more young people like restaurants, retail, and recreation, causing more young people to leave the workforce.
There also exist greater disparities among young people of color in the city and across the nation. Currently, the unemployment rates for young Black (18.5%), Hispanic (23.3%) and Asian (23.3%) workers in the city are higher than their white (16.2%) counterparts. However, across the United States, youth unemployment rates have nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, including across most racial and ethnic groups.
DiNapoli’s report further found that nearly 24% of young men in the city remain unemployed. This is significantly higher than across other groups, the rest of the state and the country. Young men in the city remain the only age and gender group to continue experiencing a high unemployment rate, even two years since the height of the pandemic.
The report suggested that the unemployment rate among young men is higher in the city than in the nation because a greater share worked in the leisure and hospitality sector, which is one of the city’s hardest hit industries. It has yet to fully recover 15% of its pre-pandemic job losses, and there may not be enough openings in the sector to meet current demands.
To help bolster job opportunities for all young people in New York, DiNapoli’s report recommends the city:
- Continue to prioritize youth employment programs that pair active job seekers with local employers, such as the CUNY Inclusive Economy Initiative;
- Identify and report on its efforts to provide at-risk youth or youth from low-income households with stable jobs and career paths; and
- With the Future of Workers Task Force, offer recommendations next year that support full-time, good-paying jobs.
Track state and local government spending at Open Book New York. Under State Comptroller DiNapoli’s open data initiative, search millions of state and local government financial records, track state contracts, and find commonly requested data.