New York City's economic recovery from COVID-19 may lag other parts of U.S.: media

By Xia Lin

NEW YORK, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- New York City's economic development strategy once made it thrive, but now drags its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic behind the rest of the country's, as more than 1 million residents are out of work, and the unemployment rate is nearly double the national average, reported The New York Times on Tuesday.

The city had tried to insulate itself from major downturns by shifting from tying its fortunes to the rise and fall of Wall Street. A thriving tech sector, a booming real estate industry and waves of international tourists had helped Broadway, hotels and restaurants prosper, said the paper.

"But as the virus surges again in the region, tourists are still staying away and any hope that workers would refill the city's office towers and support its businesses before the end of the year is fading. As a result, New York's recovery is very likely to be slow and protracted," added the report.

"This is an event that struck right at the heart of New York's comparative advantages," Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, a Wall Street research firm, was quoted as saying. "Being globally oriented, being stacked up in skyscrapers and packed together in stadiums: The very thing that made New York New York was undermined by the pandemic, was upended by it."

Zandi said he expected that it would take New York about two years longer than the rest of the country to recover all the economic losses suffered during the pandemic. "It's going to be a long slog" that will last into 2023 for the nation and possibly until 2025 for New York City, he added.

So far, New York has been regaining jobs slower than other big cities. As of September, employment in the city was still down more than 600,000 jobs from a year before, according to the state Labor Department.

In September, more than 2.3 million New York State residents were collecting unemployment benefits, James Parrott, an economist with the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, told The New York Times.

Those losses are concentrated in five key industries -- restaurants, hotels, the arts, transportation and building services -- that rely on travel, tourism and business activity, added Parrott.

Vicki Been, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, disagreed with the economists' projections, saying that the city was well positioned to "roar back" once fears of the virus subside.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has placed an emphasis on public health and reopening schools safely to pave the way for an economic rebound, Been told the paper. And the factors that have made the city a draw for employers, like an educated and skilled work force, remain firmly in place.

"This administration and the previous administration worked very hard to diversify the economy," Been said. "The ingenuity we have, the talent base we have is what attracts more talent to the city and also attracts employers."

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reported 33,433 coronavirus deaths so far in New York State, the worst in the country.

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