Almost since the recession began, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has boasted that New York City’s economy weathered the downturn better than the rest of the nation and bounced back faster.
But the latest report on jobs and unemployment in New York, released on Thursday, tells a different story. According to the State Labor Department, New York City’s unemployment rate edged up to 9 percent in December, from 8.9 percent in November, compared to a national rate that dropped to 8.5 percent from 8.7 percent.
In 2011, the private sector in the city added just 38,900 jobs, a growth rate of only 1.2 percent. (Making matters worse, the number of government jobs shrank by about 2,300 during the year.) By contrast, the number of private-sector jobs in the country as a whole rose at a rate of 1.8 percent, or one and a half times the pace of the city’s growth.
“We’re definitely underperforming after several years of outperforming,” said James P. Brown, principal economist for the State Department of Labor. In the last few months, Mr. Brown said, the national economy has settled into a slow but steady pattern of job growth, while New York City’s unemployment rate has been “flat to slowly rising.”
A big part of the problem in New York City is that Wall Street has been laying off workers as the profits of the big investment banks and brokerage firms have declined. That sector shed jobs in 2011 and should continue to shrink through the early months of this year, Mr. Brown said.
“We’re getting weak profit reports and announcements of layoffs,” he said, referring to financial companies.
The city also is not benefiting from the rebound of two big industries felt elsewhere: the manufacturing of durable goods and construction. There is very little heavy manufacturing in the city, and the number of jobs in most segments of the city’s construction industry fell by more than 5 percent in 2011.
Statewide, the unemployment rate held steady at 8 percent in December. At year’s end, there were about 770,000 unemployed residents of New York State, about 55 percent of whom were collecting unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department.