Bill Thompson: City Will Get 400,000 Unemployed for Christmas


And now for your daily dose of depressing economic news: Comptroller and mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson predicted today that New York City employment will reach 9.5 percent by the year’s end.

If he’s right, 400,000 New Yorkers will be out of work, the most since 1993.

This is significantly higher than what Thompson was predicting just a few months ago (In January, his office predicted that between 250,000 and 300,000 New Yorkers would lose their jobs by the end of 2009).

The comptroller also reported that 361,000 New Yorkers were out of work in May — double the number of New Yorkers who were out of work around the same time in 2008. About half the lost jobs are connected to the financial sector, he said.

Even though the economy is no longer in a state of free fall, the unemployment numbers keep going up, so we wonder how reliable these predictors are anyway.

We know things are bad, but it seems like nobody has a grip on how bad they might get. In June, the national unemployment rate reached a new high of 9.5 percent.

Thompson also reported that New Yorkers who have lost their jobs are taking a much longer time to find work than they were a year ago. In the first quarter of 2008, 43,500 New Yorkers were out of work for 27 weeks or longer. In the first quarter of 2009, 95,600 people were — a 120% increase.

In a state where the maximum weekly unemployment benefits are lower than that of Kansas ($407 versus $405), that’s frightening.

So, what is the city doing to stop the bleeding? The Bloomberg administration reports that it has placed 10,500 people in jobs during the first half of this year. Bloomberg also said in his weekly radio address on Sunday that he plans to use some of the $32 million in federal stimulus funds to find more jobs.

That’s not much when we look at the kind of crisis we’re up against. Bloomberg appears to be helping New Yorkers in the business-friendly way that we’ve come to expect from Mayor Mike. He has set up task forces to help out certain industries — like the New York City Economic Development Corp’s media and technology initiative, which will provide city money to connect organizations with innovations in media technology that are coming from academe. Think: The next Bloomberg terminal.

Some say he isn’t going far enough to directly help out struggling workers in other, less fortunate sectors. Last week, Tom Robbins reported that at the Working Families Party Mayoral Forum the mayor continued to oppose raising taxes on wealthy New Yorkers (though he is currently seeking to raise the sales tax), and would not promise to promote prevailing wage rules on all city projects or support federal housing vouchers for the homeless, even though the homeless population is 70 percent higher than it was last year. (On Friday, the WFP said it was backing Thompson).