Although New York City weathered the recession unusually well, several businesses seem to be stuck in a downturn mentality and relying on part-time labor, according to an analysis released Monday by Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Stringer’s office released a report noting that the city fared much better than the rest of the country during the Great Recession and has since enjoyed an unusually strong recovery. But the progress has not been reflected in the realm of part-time employment, which has not yet dropped to pre-recession levels, according to the report.
The number of part-time employees in the city’s private sector has increased 9 percent when compared to the days before the 2008 downturn, the report said. Growth in part-time employment is common during recessions, but typically subsides when the downturn ends.
Employers may be reluctant to believe the recovery will last and, as a result, may be choosing to stick with part-time workers so they are better positioned for another downturn, the comptroller’s office said.
“New York City’s diverse economy and rich culture boosts our workforce, fosters creativity, and draws people from all over the world,” Stringer in a statement. “Now, we need to harness these strengths to ensure all New Yorkers can benefit from an expanding economy.”
Part-time work has been particularly plentiful in lower-paying industries such as the restaurant, retail and information sectors.
The so-called information industry — which includes telecommunications, media and data processing jobs — saw the largest growth in part-time jobs, up 76% since 2008. The industry was one of the only sectors to sustain its growth in part-time employment after the recession.
The information sector is often associated with the much-discussed gig economy, where companies opt to regularly work with freelancers, rather than hire them as traditional employees.
Many of the part-time jobs are in low-wage positions – defined as those paying less than $60,000 annually. Between 2009 and 2016, low-wage positions accounted for 56% of private sector gains, according to the comptroller’s report. During the same period, high-wage jobs — defined as those paying more than $119,000 annually — represented a dramatically smaller portion of the workforce, the report found.