New York lost 1 million jobs during the pandemic last year, more than half of them in the city. And that doesn’t include jobs that are being done out-of-state by remote workers who therefore spend nothing in the city. Yet the politicians keep ignoring these bitter facts, and their implications.
Gov. Cuomo rightly says the holiday virus surge is ending, so he’ll start to ease restrictions. But it’s too little, too late for many small businesses — especially city restaurants, which he says can probablyrestart indoor dining on Valentine’s Day, but only at a lame 25 percent capacity, even as the rest of the state has enjoyed indoor dining at 50 percent capacity for months despite worse virus numbers.
Cuomo isn’t following the science here: His own contact-tracing data show restaurants are connected to just 1.4 percent of COVID cases. And his chatter about how seating in the city’s restaurants is more packed doesn’t change that.
“You can’t make money at 25 percent capacity, and it’s a joke if anyone thinks they can,” Rick Camac, Tribeca’s Kitchen’s operations director, told The Post.
“The restaurants are packed in Nassau, and I feel like I’m going to f—ing shoot myself!” Rocco Sacramento, owner of Trattoria L’Incontro in Astoria, Queens, railed. Queens has a seven-day average positivity rate of 5.4 percent; neighboring Nassau County’s is 5.7 percent — but Nassau has 50 percent capacity while Queens must wait weeks for a paltry 25 percent.
Cuomo’s indoor-dining shutdown is why the city lost 7,500 net jobs in December, its first absolute drop since April. And, again, some of those jobs won’t come back quickly because eateries are going out of business left and right.
The gov admits New York will not likely recover all the jobs it lost during the pandemic until 2025. It’d be nice if he didn’t treat that as baked-in, but tried to do something about it.
Overall, city unemployment is nearly double the national rate, and that’s not counting the hundreds of thousands who’ve given up looking for work.
Meanwhile, Midtown and other business districts are ghost towns, as remote workers can’t patronize local businesses. Working from home and online shopping will continue to devastate the local retail scene. And no one yet knows how many of these jobs are ever coming back to Manhattan.
Eventually, that will also mean New York can’t even tax those incomes: New Hampshire, New Jersey and other states are taking their case for that revenue to the US Supreme Court, which will likely buy it.
Meanwhile, the city has lost half of its 460,000 leisure and hospitality jobs (as of 2019). Nor is it clear when tourism will return, or at what level. With hotels also going under, it may not be able to bounce back fast.
The governor needs to take his foot off the brake and start encouraging reopening. Follow Mayor de Blasio, who’s trying to get city employees back into their offices. And stomp on the Legislature, which is eager to pass business- and job-killing tax hikes.
If he doesn’t change his ways soon, he’ll be running for re-election next year as the man who destroyed the New York economy.