Friday, March 23, 2012

Smart Move: Suffolk County Declares Fiscal Emergency

One of the first acts of the incoming Suffolk County Democratic leadership under County Executive Steve Bellone was to assemble an impressive seven-member commission headed by Dr. Richard Halverson to review the county's fiscal outlook.

The commission concluded in a report to Bellone and the Legislature on March 6 that a $530 million shortfall of income below revenues was looming over three years. The problem is not so much with 2011, which has a small gap remaining, as in the following two years.

Bellone responded by saying he would take immediate action to close the gaps. 

This was a smart move for Bellone. He and the Suffolk legislature have their eye on Nassau County to the west, which has been subject to state controls for more than a year. Showing that they are aware of the county's fiscal problems should be reassuring for the State Comptroller.

Suffolk County has been one of the hardest-hit counties in the tri-state area. Its pension fund shortfall is also one of the most serious. 

If the U.S. economy continues to recover, the worst scenario for Suffolk County could be averted, but county officials can't assume this will happen. Tax revenues are hard to predict with any certainty, whereas much local spending is under the control of local officials.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wall Street, NYC Gained More Jobs in 2011 Despite OWS

March 8 - It's now official. Wall Street did not lead to layoffs because of the Occupy Wall Street campaign. At one time this was a question in the mind of the Mayor. 
Quite the opposite. Wall Street companies hired 4,900 more workers (net of layoffs) from January 2011 to January 2012 than previously reported by  the NYS Department of Labor. Instead of losing 1,100 jobs as previously reported, the securities industry gained 3,800 jobs. 
The broader financial services sector, which includes banks and insurance as well as securities staff, hired 7,800 people from January 2011 to January 2012, bringing its payroll to a total of 440,600.
The revisions, which are made every year at this time, also show:
- An increase in the annual average NYC private-sector employment by 85,300 jobs, twice what was originally reported.
- This 2011 rate is 60 percent faster than in the country as a whole.
 - Over the past two years, NYC has grown more jobs than the next 10 cities combined.
- As of December 2011, NYS recouped 76 percent of the private sector jobs lost in the 2008-2009 recession.

- The NYS unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point to 8.3 percent in January from a year earlier. 

- NYC’s jobless rate rose fourth-tenths of a percentage point to 9.3 percent over the same time.

- In January, NYC added 31,600 private-sector jobs, the largest one-month gain since 1990 except for July 2011 when the numbers were distorted by the end of the Verizon strike.

- In January, Wall Street hired 600 workers, bringing its total workforce to 171,300 employees. 

Sources: NYS Department of Labor, NYC Office of the Mayor, Reuters (Joan Gralla) and Crains.