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Middle-income job growth slowed across greater NYC region, Fed says

There were "significant gains in technology jobs" in the city from 2015 to 2017.

John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve

John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, answers questions from reporters after a presentation about the regional economy at the bank in Manhattan on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

New York City jobs that pay low or high wages are growing faster than those paying middle-income wages, according to new research released Tuesday.

Of the more than 175,000 jobs created in the five boroughs from 2015 to 2017, more than 40 percent, or 77,600, had median salaries above $60,000 per year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said. More than 61,000 jobs were considered low-wage, with salaries less than $30,000.

The smallest gain during the period, 36,790 jobs, was in the middle-wage category, which the bank defined as median pay of $30,000 to $60,000 per year.

The figures include employment in Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties but New York Fed economists said the city accounted for the “vast majority” of the 5 million jobs from 2015 to 2017.

National figures show all three employment groups growing at roughly the same pace during the time period.

"In downstate New York, there has been more growth at the tails,” said Jaison Abel, head of regional economic analysis for the New York Fed. “New York City continues to be an engine of strong job growth, with significant gains in technology jobs.”

He said robots, computers and foreign competition are replacing middle-wage occupations, such as truck drivers, factory workers and administrative personnel. In the city, the number of office and administrative workers shrank by 3,180 in 2015-17 and factory workers fell by 5,450.

High-wage jobs include physicians, lawyers, engineers and financial analysts. In this category, business and finance jobs grew the most in the two-year period, up 36,750.

Low-wage jobs include health aides, food preparers, farmers and janitors. The number of health aides and other medical support jobs increased by 27,680 in 2015-17.

“If a computer or a machine can do your job better than you, then those jobs are disappearing," New York Fed president John C. Williams said on Tuesday. "If you use computers a lot in your job, those jobs are growing.”

He and Abel presented the research to reporters at the bank’s headquarters in lower Manhattan. They analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the city, region and nation.

Williams, who became New York Fed chief in April after leading the San Francisco Fed, said colleges, nonprofits and other organizations must redouble their efforts to train workers for more technical jobs: “We need to reprioritize investments in education, workforce development and job training because these trends are not going to turn around, they are just going to get stronger.”


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