Remaining Positive

Total job growth remained positive in April, as 2,600 positions were added to close above the 4.0 million mark for the fourth straight month. These gains are the result of 3,000 new private sector jobs, a slight increase over previous months. Over the past year, the private sector experienced negative job growth only twice, once in December and again in February.

Among non-office segments, all were relatively quiet except for the construction industry, which had its best single-month showing (+3,300) since January 2008 (+3,400). So far, the number of new construction jobs has risen each month in 2014, creating upwards of 6,000 positions year-to-date. This should come as no surprise, however, considering the enormous amount of building going on across New York City, particularly in Manhattan, of both office and residential properties.

The office segment gained 1,800 positions in April. Over the last twelve months, new office jobs have fallen into the negative column only twice, in November and March. Year-to-date, office jobs are up by 4,700, nearly matching the 4,800 positions added in the first four months of 2013. This puts the job market on track to add a little more than 14,000 positions this year, which remains less than half the number of jobs created in each of the years from 2010 through 2012.

A closer look at office employment reveals that the information job market was the segment’s only source of negative news, with 1,000 positions lost in April on top of 2,700 lost in March (much of this sector is non-internet related). The figures were somewhat better with banking, securities and real estate, which were all positive for the month. Insurance was down, but only slightly. Professional services positions also climbed, although only by 500 new positions. Historical data shows that the professional services sector has expanded rapidly since the end of the recession (+60,500), mostly due to the performance of the tech sector, which is generally captured within this category.

So, for the most part, April’s employment data was rather positive. Could the numbers be better? Certainly it would be fantastic if new office jobs were added more quickly, so that job creation could return to the 30,000+ range that New York City recorded every year from 2010 through 2012. Such rapid job creation would no doubt make developers of office product, whether proposed or under construction, feel more comfortable. But for this to happen will require significant job growth not only in the tech sector but in the financial services sector and other areas as well.

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