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Study: New York State's Higher-Paying Jobs Vanishing
Times Union
Chris Churchill

November 29, 2011
View the Original Article

ALBANY — Higher-wage jobs have been disappearing in New York since the start of the recession, a new report says, while low-wage industries have grown.

The result, says a study being released Tuesday by the Fiscal Policy Institute, is rising economic hardship as real incomes fall statewide.

"People have seen their living standard ratcheted down," said James Parrott, the institute's chief economist and an author of the report.

The report finds that since the recession began in mid-2008, net job gains have been recorded only in fields in which annual average wages are under $45,000. Those industries, the report says, have added 82,000 jobs statewide.

Meanwhile, the state has lost more than 250,000 middle- and high-wage jobs in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, government and finance.

Not surprisingly, then, mean household income, when factored against inflation, declined by 3.2 percent statewide from 2007 to 2010. New York's median household income in 2010 was $49,800, slightly above the national median of $49,400.

The Fiscal Policy Institute is a labor-backed policy research group that tracks economic trends. The group describes itself as independent and nonpartisan.

Much of the statistical data included in the new report won't surprise anyone who has followed economic changes in the years since the beginning of the economic downturn.

Many of the changes, in fact, are the expected results of a recession.

But the report paints a portrait of rising financial suffering, and notes that many of the recession's negative effects are not being countervailed by the recovery.

"It's very clear from all the data that the recovery is a very weak recovery," Parrott said.

In many respects, New York was not hit as hard by the recession as states in other parts of the country, while the Capital Region was not hit as hard as much of New York. (The report generally does not break apart the data by metropolitan area.)

And many of the income trends documented by the Fiscal Policy Institute are found in much of the country, and are not unique to New York.

But the report also notes that New York state had the second-fastest growth among states in gross domestic product in 2010, and had a per-capita GDP growth rate that was more than three times greater than the national average between 2003 and 2010.

But that growth is not reflected in average wages now being received by workers statewide, the report says, particularly after the slide of recent years.

"By dragging down wages, the Great Recession and its aftermath have widened the gap between the growth in worker productivity and the growth in wages for the average worker," the report says.

Since the recession began, the number of New Yorkers without health insurance has risen by 550,000 to 2.9 million, the institute says, citing Census Bureau statistics. More than 3 million workers now receive food stamps, according to the report, and food stamp usage has grown by 63 percent in New York City and 68 percent elsewhere in New York state.