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Job Losses Show Entertainment Industry Strikes Hitting NYC Economy

New York City’s economic recovery continues to lag the nation’s.

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On strike: actor and writer Eric Bogosian and comrades walk the picket line at Rockefeller Center last month.

Marcus Santos/THE CITY

Here is your August economic recovery update from THE CITY. We publish a new analysis of the city’s employment, job and fiscal indicators each month.

NYC Economy Sluggish

The New York City economy continued in the doldrums in July, losing 8,100 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis with signs of weakness in the vital entertainment industry as major unions halted work.

So far this year, the city has added only 22,600 jobs, a plodding pace of less than 4,000 jobs a month, according to the state Department of Labor. The city remains some 40,000 jobs below the pre-pandemic number, while the nation as a whole has surpassed the 2020 figure by more than 3 million jobs, or about 3%.

While seasonal factors like hiring for the city’s summer jobs program and staffing for cafes open primarily in the summer can affect the July figures, the latest data shows continuing problems on Broadway and also in the film and TV economy, as a result of the strike that has shut down production.

Delving into sectors, where statistics are not seasonally adjusted, jobs dropped by more than 6,000 in July in the performing arts and related industries as Broadway struggles. In late July, three shows — a musical revival of “Camelot,” a stage adaptation of “Life of Pi” and the comedy “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” — all closed on the same day. Off Broadway productions have not recovered from the pandemic shutdown.

In what could be the first sign of the impact of the film and TV strike, jobs in motion picture and sound recording are 6,800 below the figure for March. 

But unemployment claims have not increased since the strike began, probably because many people in the industry already hold other jobs since work is intermittent. 

Unemployment Stuck at 5%

The city’s unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage point to 5.3% in July. The jobless rate has remained just above 5% for the entire year. The national rate is 3.5%.

Vacations Drive Down Office Occupancy

Office occupancy in the New York region fell under 45% last week as the August vacation season took hold. Similar declines occurred in the rest of the country. Subway ridership recovery has remained steady around 70% this year, while hotel demand was at 89% in June, compared to the same month in 2019.

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