Liu releases startling workforce numbers
by Heather Senison
Feb 01, 2012 | 210 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Liu speaking to seniors at a senior center in Maspeth.
John Liu speaking to seniors at a senior center in Maspeth.
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Unemployment is up among young people and minorities, and one-third of all New Yorkers can’t afford to retire, according to reports released last week by Comptroller John Liu’s office last week.

Between 2000 and 2009, the percentage of employees in New York who had access to retirement plans from their employers declined from 48 to 40 percent, with the national average at 53 percent. Thirty-five percent of New York City workers participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2009.

In addition, more than one-third of New York City households in which the head is nearing retirement age will have to rely solely on Social Security income or will not be able to retire at all due to having less than $10,000 in savings.

“It is a significant public policy concern when such a high proportion of the workforce will not have enough money in their retirement years,” Liu said in a statement.

He stressed a need “to help workers, both public and private sector, properly prepare throughout their working careers for their eventual retirement.”

Liu’s retirement study, which he conducted with the Schwartz Center for Economic Public Analysis at The New School, also found that employers are less willing or able to provide retirement packages for their employers.

Although according to Liu’s office the brewing retirement crisis cuts across racial, ethnic and age boundaries, unemployment is move prevalent among minorities and young people.

Unemployment in the city was at 9.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, with 16 to 24 year olds at 16.5 percent.

During that quarter, unemployment was at 13.6 percent for African Americans and 10 percent for Hispanics, compared to 7.8 percent for whites and 7.4 percent for Asians and others.

The unemployment rate in Brooklyn was at 12.6 percent in the last quarter of 2011, and 8.4 percent in Queens.

In addition, the rate was at 12.3 percent for New Yorkers without a college diploma, compared to 10.4 percent for those without a high school diploma.

“We must level the playing field and close these employment gaps,” Liu said, “because they undermine the health of entire neighborhoods and threaten our economic future.

“The city should clearly set fiscal policy to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises, which have proven track records of creating jobs in neighborhoods that need them the most,” he added.

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