The unemployment rate for mothers in New York City has improved but it remains higher than it was prior to the pandemic, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The report also found that 5.7% of city moms in the workforce were unemployed in 2022 compared to 3.4% nationally. Black mothers in the city are the hardest hit, facing an unemployment rate of 9%. The city and state have improved access to early education and child care for working mothers and families, but more can be done to improve outreach and expand these opportunities.
“New York City mothers are having a tougher time getting work compared to other women around the country,” DiNapoli said. “More mothers in the city are now looking for work than before the pandemic, and some are seeking flexible work opportunities. The city and state should continue to build on their efforts to provide child care and other support services for mothers and families.”
DiNapoli’s report compares the unemployment and labor force participation rates of mothers in New York City before, during and after the pandemic with the rest of the state and the nation. In 2022, the labor force participation rate for city moms was 68.8%, well above the 2019 rate of 62.2%.
Employment outcomes vary by race and ethnicity. Black mothers faced the largest spike in unemployment during the pandemic, at 15.5% in 2020. After improving in 2021, their rate remained virtually unchanged at 9% in 2022, compared to 6.5% nationally. In contrast, unemployment rates for white, Asian and Hispanic mothers came down from 2021 to 2022. DiNapoli’s report raises concerns that the historic unemployment gap between Black and white mothers could remain stagnant or widen if all parts of the local economy don’t fully recover.
Some mothers in the city appear to be looking for flexible options outside full-time work, especially compared to the rest of the state and the nation. Prior to the pandemic, nearly 50,000 city mothers preferred part-time work, and this number jumped to nearly 64,000 in 2022, an increase of 28.5%. This compares to declines in the share of mothers in the workforce who preferred not to work full-time in the rest of the state (-4.5%) and the nation (-11.5%) from 2019 to 2022.
Additionally, more women in New York City pursued self-employment in 2022. Self-employment among Black women rose by more than 70% from 2021 to 2022, a larger increase compared to white, Hispanic and Asian women. However, white women remain the most likely to be self-employed at 10.9% in 2022. DiNapoli recommends enhancing outreach to women-owned businesses to help them become certified Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) and improve their opportunities for new business.
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.