New York Lost 250,000 Middle- and High-Wage Jobs Since 2008: Report

December 1, 2011

New York State has been shedding hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs since the financial crisis hit and its poverty rate remains high.

Since 2008, the state lost over 250,000 middle- and high-wage jobs in sectors including finance, government and construction, according to a new report from New York-based research group Fiscal Policy Institute. New York City has lost 120,000 of these well-paying jobs.

The report, titled “The State of Working New York 2011: Smaller Incomes, Fewer Opportunities, More Hardships,” was released this week.

The jobless rate in New York State has been above 7.5 percent for nearly three years. Currently, the statewide unemployment rate stands at around 7.9 percent. (The state’s unemployment rate was around 4.5 percent prior to the financial crisis.)

The group says many of these disappearing high-paying jobs have been replaced by lower paying ones in areas like home health care services and restaurants. It says lower-paying jobs have actually seen gains over the last three years in New York, with 82,000 positions added across the state.

The disappearance of higher-paying jobs and growth of low-paying work is causing household incomes to fall. Median household incomes in the state declined 3.2 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to the report.

Further, the state is experiencing a high level of poverty, especially in major upstate cities. Rochester and Syracuse both have poverty rates of 34 percent. Those two cities are followed by Buffalo with 30 percent and Albany with 28 percent.

The official poverty rate is now about 15 percent in the state and 20 percent in New York City. The federal poverty threshold for a 4-person family was $22,314 in 2010, and $17,374 for a 3-person family

The child poverty rate is also high. Some 30 percent of New York City children are living at the official poverty level, the report said. The child poverty rates in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Albany range from 43 percent to 51 percent.

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