Pat Kiernan: The latest jobs analysis from the state’s Department of Labor finds employment in New York City has fully recovered to the pre-pandemic levels. It is back up to 4.7 million public and private sector jobs. More than 100,000 jobs have been added compared to just a year ago. Employment levels now reflect a rebound of the roughly 900,000 jobs that were lost at the height of the Covid lockdown. Mayor Adams toted the achievement yesterday, noting that some forecasts had predicted this recovery would take another two years passed now.
Mayor Eric Adams: Our economy is back. We have recovered nearly one million private sector jobs– that’s right. We have now regained the million jobs that were lost during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Kiernan: The mayor went on in that video clip to admit this is a bit of a victory lap, but he said there’s still more work to be done to really build an inclusive economy in New York. Mayor Adams is with us now from City Hall. He’s joining us along with Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Maria Torres Springer. Good to have you both with us this morning.
Mayor Adams: It’s good to be here. Really excited today sitting next to a rockstar, I believe, just unbelievable when you think about it, Pat. I made a commitment when I ran for office. We were at a terrible time in the city. But when you looked at coming out of the Covid 19, no one wanted to be on our subway system. People were unsure if the economy was going to recover. They stated it was going to take years. Crime was trending in the wrong direction.
Look at where we are today, another huge first time. This is the largest job count in the history of our city. We need to be clear on that. And this administration has done it over and over again, focusing on people, public safety and working class places and people in this city. Really excited for New Yorkers.
Kiernan: Okay, so Mayor Adams, I’m going to let you take credit for some portion of the job creation, we’ll leave it to the economists to figure out exactly how many jobs we’re recovering as part of the over economic cycle and how many we’re recovering because of city programs and some of the things that your administration’s been doing. Of those programs, of those initiatives, what do you think has been paying dividends? Where has the success been?
Mayor Adams: Public safety. People did not understand the connectivity of how safe people wanted to feel. And if you can’t get people back on your subway system, then they’re not going to go into those office spaces. They’re not going to go and visit our night life associations, our restaurants where people are going to sit down and feel comfortable enough. That was the foundation. I keep saying the prerequisite to prosperity of the city lies in public safety. We had to make the city safer, and we’re accomplishing that every day.
Kiernan: Deputy Mayor Torres Springer, the mayor said himself that there’s still some work to be done here. A lot of new Yorkers feel like they can’t get ahead on rent, they can’t get ahead on groceries. What is going to turn that around, that feeling that you can afford to live here?
Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: Well, thank you, Pat. First of all, just to put some of the numbers in context. We’ve recovered a million jobs since the height of the pandemic. That is…we’ve recovered more jobs than cities like San Francisco or Austin has people. And since the mayor took office and adding 280,000 jobs, we’ve created more jobs than New Jersey or Buffalo have people.
And so, is our work done? Of course it isn’t. And as you mentioned, we have to keep moving on all cylinders really protecting the engines of our economy like the mayor mentioned in terms of tourism and central business districts, supporting small businesses, and connecting New Yorkers to jobs, because that ultimately — and to your question — is going to make sure that New Yorkers still feel like they have a place in the city.
Raising their wages, connecting them to jobs and creating more affordability by building more housing, because we all know that the pressures on New Yorkers in terms of rents in the city are too high; and there, too, we’re working on all cylinders to change that equation.
Kiernan: Yes, I really think when you talk about these issues so much of it comes back to the affordable housing piece.
Mayor Adams: So true. And building more affordable housing. We have an inventory problem. We put in place an aggressive plan, moonshot of 500,000 more units of housing. The governor has partnered with in our pursuit with Albany. And so one, city planning is going to put a real aggressive plan on zone changes that have prevented many housing, but we need also help from Albany.
We want our partners to look at 421a, raising the FAR, converting some of our office spaces. We have 138 million square feet of office space that’s available, let’s turn that into housing. We must get aggressive. And if we increase the inventory, you’re going to see the stabilization of the cost of some of our housing.
Deputy Mayor Torres Springer: Pat, if I can just add. Today is a record, an all time job record in the 400 year history of New York City. But we also created records in building affordable housing. So, in the first fiscal year, full fiscal year of the mayor’s administration, we’ve announced 24,000 units of affordable housing, records in terms of new construction, supportive housing, housing for the formerly homeless. And so we know that we have to really turn over every stone to make sure that young people, working people, our elders, that they all have a place in the city that we’ve all helped build.
Mayor Adams: Sound like an Aaron Judge year to me. [Laughter.]
Kiernan: Mayor Adams, I’d like to get to a couple of other topics.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Kiernan: We saw statistics this week showing how few migrants have actually received their work authorization or have actually received Temporary Protected Status. I know you were really counting on that path to get you some relief as far as the number of people you’re trying to house from one day to the next. Were you surprised by those numbers?
Mayor Adams: No, because the challenge and difficulty of navigating the entire process. We built out an infrastructure, and we need more help from the federal government, we built out infrastructure through to expedite a very tedious and long process of actually getting people the documents they need to move for asylum as well as working.
But let’s be clear. We’re getting now close to 16,000, 17,000 a month, so as fast as we move people out, we’re seeing people come into the system. And this only really focused on a certain number of people who are qualified for work authorization. It’s a step…
Mayor Adams: But listen, we have a thousand miles to go to get this stuff right.
Kiernan: I’m wondering, you know, we have had other events in Washington an Israel really taking the spotlight and haven’t heard so much about the migrant crisis in the last couple of weeks. Is that just because it’s been pushed back in the headlines but it’s just as much of a problem?
Mayor Adams: Without a doubt, and that’s why I went to South America, to Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia. But here’s the real narrative that we must see. In spite of all that we’re going through— Covid, dealing with crime, dealing with the migrant issue— we’re still excelling. We’re not surviving in this city, we’re thriving in this city.
And we are going to continue to have our federal lawmakers know, New York City taxpayers should not be carrying the burden of a national problem. But while we’re doing that, we have to make sure that we do everything possible so that not one child or family is sleeping on the streets of our city.
Kiernan: Mayor Adams, you made an announcement this week along with the Taxi Commissioner that you are really going to push the taxi and Uber and Lyft fleets to electric vehicles, great goal, certainly will reduce pollution in the city. But as part of that you’re saying that you’re no longer going to have the de Blasio cap on the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles. That strikes me as counterproductive at a time when we’re bringing in congestion pricing. Will those vehicles be flooding the streets of Manhattan and creating traffic?
Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, I’m glad you said great goals, because yes, we have we have an aggressive goal in our city of really moving for these moonshot visions. Can you imagine no more Uber, no more Lyfts that are not electric in this city? That’s an amazing accomplishment for these vehicles.
And our goal is to allow the EV — Electric Vehicles — to be increased in that number, because that is a way how we can fight the emissions issue we have in our city; and in our country, to be honest with you. So, we’re excited about the direction of this announcement that we made.
Kiernan: But to come back to the question, if you’ve got, let’s say, 20,000 additional EVs, they’re still clogging up the streets of midtown at four o’clock on a Thursday.
Mayor Adams: Well, that’s what congestion pricing is about, it is to make sure that we prevent people from actually taking any type of for hire vehicles. We want folks on our public transportation. You know, we have one of the best first rate transportation systems on the globe, in my opinion. We’re back up to peaking at four million riders.
I mean, can you remember that, after the Covid we…customer satisfaction surveys are fine, crime is, you see is decreasing in our subway system. So, we want people back on our buses and back on our trains, and we believe that would offset the number of EVs and a number of for hire vehicles we have on our streets.
Kiernan: All right. Amen to that. Mayor Adams, thank you for joining us. Deputy mayor, thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate your time.
Mayor Adams: Thank you.
Deputy Mayor Torres Springer: Thank you.
October 20, 2023
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