Westchester (County) Metro – Suffering Job Losses Everywhere
The Westchester metro area lost 161,700 jobs, or 22%, year over year as per the April results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note that the BLS categorization for Westchester includes both Rockland and Orange Counties, although Westchester’s 432,600 employees account for 61% of the metro total. Still, COVID cases in both Westchester and Rockland counties were the highest in the U.S on a per-capita basis which accounts for why the metro’s year-over-year job loss rate was the 2nd worst in the U.S. Only Detroit was worse, although Long Island was right behind with a loss of 21.7%, as was New York City’s (-19.2%) and Northern New Jersey’s (-18.8%). Note, however, that Westchester’s unemployment rate climbed “only” to 14.1% which was better than New York City’s 14.6%, Westchester’s 16.6% and Northern NJ’s 15.9% as well as the metro average of 14.4%. While these numbers are preliminary, the near-term outlook remains cloudy. Although many furloughed jobs will be restored after the shelter-in-place is lifted, a large number of jobs were saved by the payroll protection program (“PPP”) which incentivized companies to keep their staff on the payroll. If the PPP is not renewed in July, these “saved” jobs will be lost for good.
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Of Westchester’s losses, 28.5% or 46,100 jobs were in the leisure and hospitality sector. This equates to a rate of decline of 70%. The retail sector shed another 19,100 jobs, a decline of 22.7%. Netting out these two concentrated sectors puts the remaining year-over-year rate of job decline at 16.5% which also ranked second worst after Detroit’s -20% net decline. The metro average decline was 8.2%.
Westchester’s office sector shed 15,800 jobs year over year, which was a rate of decline of 10.9%. This ranked 69th of 82 metros, or in the bottom 15. The metro average decline was 6.6%.
Westchester’s education and healthcare sector lost 15,400 jobs year over year, a decline of 9.3%. Most of these jobs should return when the economy re-opens and more doctors’ offices and daycare centers get back to work, although many of the education jobs may not return until September.
To put these cumulative job losses in context, Westchester’s seasonally adjusted job gain job gain over the last expansion was 70,400 jobs, a growth rate of 10.6%. The recent seasonally adjusted loss of jobs accounted for 219% of the gains in the recent expansion; that is, Westchester lost 2.2 jobs in two months for every job it added over the last ten years. This ratio ranked 75th worst of 82 metros, was nearly the same as Long Island’s but was better than Northern New Jersey’s ratio of 238%. The equivalent ratio for the U.S. was 94% jobs were lost that had been added over the prior ten years.
Like New York City, Westchester was hit hard but early with a high concentration of COVID cases. Because local officials were strict with lock-down measures, the broader metro area saw steeper job losses than most of the U.S. and will hopefully see a high percentage of the recent gains reported in May. Still, the outlook in Westchester is mixed: coronavirus cases are finally declining in the metro, and the economy is re-opening in phases. But many retail stores will struggle to re-open given social distancing and the growth in e-commerce over the last few months. Likewise, many businesses are surviving on the Payroll Protection Program. If this is not renewed this month or next, many more small businesses will not survive.
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