NYC Jobless Rate Drops for Seventh Month to 9.4%

New York City’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell for the seventh-straight month to 9.4 percent in July as financial companies continued a growth trend, the state Labor Department reported.

The state’s jobless rate remained unchanged at 8.2 percent, as the number of unemployed residents dropped by 1,500, to 796,700, the department said today. Although the national rate in July remained steady at June’s 9.5 percent, initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 to 500,000 nationwide last week, according to the U.S. Labor Department. That exceeded the estimates of all 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

“We have a long way to go to fully restore our economic health, but clearly we are moving in the right direction,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. The city, he said, would continue “to make smart investments that help create jobs today and over the long run.”

The city’s 1.1 percent nongovernment growth rate for the year ending in July topped the state’s 0.5 percent gain and the nation’s less-than 0.1 percent increase. That’s partly because Wall Street, which dominates the city’s economy, suffered less and recovered faster than manufacturing, said James Brown, a state Labor Department economist. He said financial services firms have expanded employment in four of the past five months.

Business-Based Gains

“More of our jobs are tied to corporate spending -- with a large professional and business-services sector -- which benefits from the sharp recovery in corporate profits, and our leisure and hospitality sector has held up remarkably well,” Brown said.

Bloomberg cited an article in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, which teamed up with A.T. Kearney, a consulting company, ranking New York at the top of a survey of world cities’ influence on global markets, culture, and innovation as a measure of the city’s economic potential.

“Chief among our strengths that are driving New York City’s recovery is the talent of our workforce,” the mayor said. “As a city that prides itself on welcoming the best and brightest from across the globe to do business here, and on encouraging innovative new ideas in every field, this recognition affirms New York City’s leading role.”

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Growing Labor Force

The city’s unemployment rate declined from 9.5 percent in June even as its labor force, the portion of the population active in the job market, increased from January, Brown said. The labor force rose to 3.99 million last month from about 3.97 million in January, when the jobless rate was 10.4 percent.

“It’s a fairly strong picture, with above-average gains or below average losses in almost every sector,” Brown said.

Financial services experienced a 4,000-job increase, including 1,200 hired by securities firms, to total 433,100, the state said. In the past 12 months, industry employment fell by 1,400 positions, or 0.3 percent, from July 2009.

Professional and business-service employers added 5,000 jobs -- including office temps, janitors, security guards, accountants, lawyers and secretaries -- to 575,700 in July, gaining 2,300 positions in the past year. Leisure and hospitality employment continued a 12-month gaining trend, increasing by 1,700 to 323,100, an increase of 13,000 for the year, the department said.

The only industry to show weaker-than-average results for the month was transportation, warehousing and utilities, the state reported.

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