The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The New York Fed engages with individuals, households and businesses in the Second District and maintains an active dialogue in the region. The Bank gathers and shares regional economic intelligence to inform our community and policy makers, and promotes sound financial and economic decisions through community development and education programs.
Economic inequality in the United States is much more pronounced in some parts of the country than others. In this post, we examine the geography of wage inequality, drawing on our recent Economic Policy Review article. We find that the most unequal places tend to be large urban areas with strong economies where wage growth has been particularly strong for those at the top of the wage distribution. The least unequal places, on the other hand, tend to have relatively sluggish economies that deliver slower wage growth for high, middle, and lower wage earners alike. Many of the least unequal places are concentrated in the Rust Belt. These differences in the degree of wage inequality are tied to powerful economic forces arising from technological change and globalization, which have pushed up wages strongly for high-skilled workers in locations that have become the most unequal. Yet those same forces have kept wage growth compressed within a fairly narrow range for workers in places that are the least unequal.
Economic analysis is often geared toward understanding the average effects of a given policy or program. Likewise, economic policies frequently target the average person or firm. While averages are undoubtedly useful reference points for researchers and policymakers, they don’t tell the whole story: it is vital to understand how the effects of economic trends and government policies vary across geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic boundaries. It is also important to assess the underlying causes of the various inequalities we observe around us, whether they are related to income, health, or any other set of indicators. Starting today, we are running a series of six blog posts (apart from this introductory post), each of which focuses on an interesting case of heterogeneity in the United States.
Two years after hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the two territories’ economies have moved in very different directions. When the hurricanes struck, both were already in long economic slumps and had significant fiscal problems. As of the summer of 2019, however, Puerto Rico’s economy was showing considerable signs of improvement since the hurricanes, while the Virgin Islands’ economy remained mired in a deep slump through the end of 2018, though signs of a nascent recovery have emerged in 2019. In this post, we assess the contrasting trends of these two economies since the hurricanes and attempt to explain the forces driving these trends.
The federal minimum wage, currently set at $7.25 per hour, has remained unchanged for the longest stretch of time since its 1938 inception under the Fair Labor Standards Act. With the real purchasing power of the federal minimum wage eroded by inflation, many states and municipalities have raised their local minimum wages. As of July 2019, fourteen states plus the District of Columbia—home to 35 percent of Americans—have minimum wages above $10 per hour, as do numerous localities scattered across other states. New York is among a handful of states—along with California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey—that has passed legislation to eventually increase minimum wages to $15 per hour. While New York began raising its minimum wage from $7.25 per hour in 2014, neighboring Pennsylvania has left its minimum wage unchanged at the federal floor. Minimum-wage variation between contiguous states has allowed researchers to evaluate the respective impacts on employment and average earnings. In this post, we gauge the effect of New York’s recent minimum-wage hikes by comparing low-wage sectors in counties along the New York-Pennsylvania border.
Regional employment data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are a critically important tool used to track and assess local economic conditions on a timely basis. However, the primary data used for this purpose are monthly survey-based estimates that are revised once per year, and these revisions can sometimes be substantial and surprising. As a result, initial readings of these data can lead to conclusions about employment trends that may later change. It is possible to anticipate these revisions in advance of their release using a second publicly available data set released by the BLS. Like some of our colleagues at other Reserve Banks (the Dallas Fed and St. Louis Fed, in particular), the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is now performing an “early benchmark” of initial monthly employment releases throughout the year and making these benchmarked data available to the public on a monthly basis. Our early benchmarked estimates tend to more closely track revised data than the initial releases do, and can help policymakers and the public better monitor regional economic conditions on a timely basis.
Jaison R. Abel, Jason Bram, Richard Deitz, and Jonathan Hastings
The New York Fed today unveiled a newly designed website on the regional economy that offers convenient access to a wide array of regional data, analysis, and research that the Bank makes available to the public. Focusing specifically on the Federal Reserve’s Second District, which includes New York State, Northern New Jersey, Southwestern Connecticut, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the new site also features information about the Bank's community engagement and outreach efforts across the region. With today’s release, we are providing new regional economic précis for local areas in our District—that is, short reports that give an overview of economic trends in each location; these reports will be updated regularly as new data are released.
As we outlined in our previous post, the United States lost close to six million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010 but since then has gained back almost one million. In this post, we take a closer look at the geographic dimension of this modest rebound in manufacturing jobs. While job losses during the 2000s were fairly widespread across the country, manufacturing employment gains since then have been concentrated in particular parts of the country. Indeed, these gains were especially large in “auto alley”—a narrow motor vehicle production corridor stretching from Michigan south to Alabama—while much of the Northeast continued to shed manufacturing jobs. Closer to home, many of the metropolitan areas in the New York-Northern New Jersey region have been left out of this rebound and are continuing to shed manufacturing jobs, though Albany has bucked this trend with one of the strongest performances in the country.
Jaison R. Abel, Jason Bram, Richard Deitz, and Jonathan Hastings
At today’s economic press briefing, we examined labor market conditions across our District, which includes New York State, Northern New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As has been true throughout the expansion, New York City remains an engine of job growth, while employment gains have been more moderate in Northern New Jersey and fairly sluggish across most of upstate New York. Nonetheless, it has become more difficult for firms to find workers throughout the New York-Northern New Jersey region. It may not be terribly surprising that labor markets have tightened in and around New York City, where job growth has been strong, but labor markets have also tightened in upstate New York, even in places where there has been little or no job growth. This is because labor markets are tightening as a result of changes in both labor demand and labor supply. In upstate New York, a decline in the labor force has reduced the pool of available workers. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still recovering from the destructive hurricanes last year. As these island economies continue to rebuild, employment has edged up in Puerto Rico and stabilized in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Jaison R. Abel, Tony Davis, Richard Deitz, and Edison Reyes
Community colleges frequently work with local employers to help shape the training of students and incumbent workers. This type of engagement has become an increasingly important strategy for community colleges to help students acquire the right skills for available jobs, and also helps local employers find and retain workers with the training they need. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted a survey of community colleges in New York State with the goal of documenting the amount and types of these kinds of activities taking place. Our report, Employer Engagement by Community Colleges in New York State, summarizes the findings of our survey.
Puerto Rico recently observed the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria—the most destructive storm to hit the Commonwealth since the San Felipe Segundo hurricane in 1928. Maria, combined with Hurricane Irma, which had glanced the island about two weeks prior, is estimated to have caused nearly 3,000 deaths and tens of billions of dollars of physical damage. Millions went without power for weeks, in most cases months. Basic services—water, sewage, telecommunications, medical care, schools—suffered massive disruptions. While it is difficult to assign a cost to all the suffering endured by Puerto Rico’s population, we can now at least get a better read on the economic effect of the storms. In this blog post, we look at a few key economic indicators to gauge the negative effects of the storms and the extent of the subsequent rebound—not only for the Commonwealth as a whole, but for its various geographic areas and industry sectors. We also examine data from the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel to assess how well households held up financially and what effects the home mortgage foreclosure and payment moratoria had.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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