March 24, 2023

New York City’s Jobless Rate Increased to 8.6% in August Despite Hiring Gains

The rise in the unemployment rate, from 8.4 percent in July, reflects an increase in the number of people looking for work in the city, said Barbara Byrne Denham, a private economist who analyzes the official data issued every month by the State Labor Department.

Ms. Denham estimated that employers in the city added 10,200 jobs last month, bringing the total gain for the year so far to nearly 85,000 jobs. The city is on pace to add at least 100,000 jobs in 2013, she said, the biggest increase in a year since 1999.

“The good news is the gains were really across the board,” said Ms. Denham, who works for Eastern Consolidated, a real estate services firm in Manhattan. Ms. Denham performs her own calculations to adjust the Labor Department’s figures for seasonal fluctuations in hiring and firing. The department seasonally adjusts the statewide jobs data, but not the city numbers.

The persistently high unemployment rate has bedeviled Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city officials. On Tuesday, one of Mr. Bloomberg’s deputies, Robert K. Steel, appeared on CNBC to trumpet the strength of the city’s economy. He said the city had gained back twice as many jobs as it lost during the financial crisis that started five years ago.

Ms. Denham agreed with those numbers. By her count, the city lost about 165,000 jobs in the recession, but gained back all of them plus an additional 150,000 jobs.

She too discounted the rising unemployment rate, attributing it to an increase in the number of New Yorkers encouraged about the prospects for finding jobs. The labor force tends to grow when the economy gains steam and hopes of getting hired rise; people without jobs count as unemployed only when they are actively looking for one.

“I think there’s a lot more optimism in the economy,” Ms. Denham said.

Wall Street, which has traditionally led the city’s economy out of recessions, was an exception to the positive trend in August. The securities industry lost about 1,700 jobs last month, leaving it with a net loss so far this year, Ms. Denham said.

Elena Volovelsky, an economist with the State Labor Department, said the number of jobs in computer systems design and advertising in the city rose to “all-time employment highs” in August. She said that the financial industries were weak, but that some of those job losses could have resulted from summer interns’ returning to school.

Statewide, the number of private-sector jobs increased by 22,700 in August, the department reported. The state’s unemployment rate also rose, to 7.6 percent last month from 7.5 percent in July. The national unemployment rate is lower, at 7.3 percent for August.

In New Jersey last month, the numbers moved in the opposite direction: the state lost jobs, but its unemployment rate dipped. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported on Thursday that the state’s unemployment rate declined to 8.5 percent in August, from 8.6 percent in July. But it also said that the number of jobs in the state declined by 1,500, making for a two-month loss since June of 12,000 jobs.

According to the official definitions, there were about 392,000 unemployed residents of New Jersey and more than 730,000 in New York State, about half of which lived in New York City.

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U.S. Labor Report on Jobs to Arrive Friday on Schedule

The hurricane had shut down government offices on Monday and Tuesday, and threatened to delay the release of the monthly jobs numbers. That led to hand-wringing in the presidential campaigns and even some accusations that the Obama administration might delay the numbers for its political benefit.

But a Labor Department spokesman said Wednesday in an e-mail message that the report would come out as planned, at 8:30 a.m. E.S.T. on Friday.

Economists expect the jobs figures to show slow, steady employment growth, the product of an anemic but persistent recovery, with the unemployment rate remaining about where it is in the coming months, and employers expected to add workers too slowly to pull the overall jobless rate down further.

Last month, the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent, the lowest since President Obama took office. Regardless of the results, the numbers will immediately become headline fodder for an Obama campaign looking to trumpet a 25th consecutive month of job growth and a Romney campaign looking to underscore the historical weakness of the recovery and the failure of Mr. Obama’s economic policies.

Economists estimate that the report will show that the economy added around 100,000 jobs in October, though there is a large margin of error in any given report. The economy has created about 146,000 jobs a month over the last three months.

Recent economic data has been mixed, with manufacturing and exports showing significant weakness but consumer spending and confidence on the rise.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 31, 2012

An earlier version of this article misstated the average number of jobs created in recent months. It is 146,000, not 90,000.

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