Grim new data released by the Partnership for New York City shows that only 57% of NYC's working age population is employed compared to 71% in London, NYC's historic international competitor, and more than 80,000 people have been unemployed for more than one year. Another 40,000 are discouraged unemployed who have given up looking for jobs. The study called for public-private partnerships to better channel willing workers into the 73,000 jobs that went begging in the city in October and for the new mayor to develop an "innovation economy." More than 100,000 middle wage jobs disappeared from the city in the last decade, said the Partnersip.
The job problems contribute to the problem of alientated young people who see scant hope for a sustainable future in an increasingly expensive city. About 25.2% of men ages 18-24 and another 13.1% of those 25 to 34 in the Big Apple live below the poverty line, according to 2012 data assembled by the Community Service Society. Females fare worse: A stunning 28.9% of women 18 to 24 and 19.6% of those 25 to 34 are officially poor.
There are a wallet full of reasons life in NYC is particularly tough for the youngs: Some people come from poor families and a long family tradition of poverty. But it's also clear that the ranks of the young poor are swelling as graduates emerge from college burdened with debt, and find that starting salaries lag far behind the price of basics such as housing and medical care in the nation's priciest metropolis.
New York also attracts many young people at the start of their careers willing to work for very little money in a city with a huge service industry filled with low wage gigs. "Every Starbucks barista job finds you competing with half the graduating class of Oberlin," said Philip Kasinitz, a professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.
NYC is also the capital of "intern nation. In highly desirable fields that are not lucrative, but ego focused, such as media, it is very hard to make a living," because someone else is often willing to do the job for free - or college credit.
Still other young people in New York have brief bouts of penury, as they cycle in and out of mostly lucrative, but erratic, jobs.
But the real story, said Kasinitz, is how much better off older people are - especially men. "Today's elderly lived through the good times and an awful lot of them got good pension deals," said Kasinitz. It is striking, said the professor, "how much nicer we are in this country to our old people than to our young."