DCWP Calls on the Federal Government to Step in to Prevent Short-term Financial Struggles from Becoming a Long-term Crisis
The brief found that Black, Hispanic, residents with lower incomes, residents who have lower levels of educational attainment are groups of New Yorkers with increased vulnerability to income loss and difficulty meeting their short-term material needs. Some of these same groups were highlighted in DCWP’s previous which examined the financial vulnerability of New Yorkers prior to the pandemic.
“We have seen COVID-19 affect New Yorkers disproportionately across the board and the time to act is now. Even in a good economy, the burden of unemployment does not fall proportionally across race and ethnicity. Particularly in a bad economy, the racial employment gap becomes dire,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We need the federal government to act immediately and pass another relief bill that will not only alleviate financial struggles in the short-term but for the future too. At the end of this month, the CARES Act will expire and for many, financial troubles will only worsen.”
The research brief discusses unemployment in New York City and the factors that contribute to a citywide unemployment rate, nearly double the national unemployment rate and looks at three key factors —job loss, food insecurity and the ability to pay for housing—to examine short-term financial effects.
Throughout the NYC metro area, 54 percent of adults reported that they had lost income since March 2020. Over 1 in 10 adult New Yorkers are struggling to maintain an adequate diet and 1 in 5 renters and 1 in 6 mortgage holders are behind on their housing payments. For those who experienced income loss during the pandemic, the struggle is greater.
▪ Black and Hispanic residents reported experiencing income loss with the greatest frequency (67 percent and 68 percent).
▪ Households with the lowest incomes, less than $35,000, also felt losses in household earnings at higher rates than households with higher earnings: 80 percent compared to 46 percent.
▪ Adults without a bachelor’s degree had the highest rate of income loss (61 percent), and adults with a bachelor’s degree had the lowest rate of income loss (45 percent).
The bottom line is: without an income or with a reduced income, New York City residents will struggle to build the financial foundation needed to ensure a secure life for themselves and their families. If the current pattern of uneven job loss persists without intervention, today’s short-term financial struggles and unequal access to quality jobs will result in more permanent and uneven long-term declines in financial health, which will not just impact today’s more vulnerable workers, but will have spillover effects on the next generation of New Yorkers.
The City is already starting to take steps to address these concerns. During the pandemic, the administration quickly mobilized City programs, existing and new, to support vulnerable New Yorkers. Programs include: , , , and . Information about all programs can be found at or by calling 311.
Recognizing the racial pattern of COVID-19 cases and the uneven impact of the rapid job loss resulting from the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity to engage the hardest-hit communities—including many of the communities identified in this brief, with the goal of narrowing long-standing racial and economic disparities.
“The pandemic could not be more lopsided in its economic impact on New York City’s low-income workforce and communities. We’re indeed facing a dark winter of prolonged job and earnings losses. Our federal government needs to step up to provide relief and begin to fill the gaping jobs chasm that has opened up. To make matters worse, 600,000 city residents will lose Pandemic Unemployment Assistance the day after Christmas,” said James Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies of Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.
“As we work tirelessly to make sure people get the help they need right now, and that renters across New York see their rights fully protected, we need to be intentional about bridging that inequality gap that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. I thank the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for shedding light on this issue, and we look forward to continue working with them and our other partner agencies to make sure our recovery is just and equitable,” said Ricardo Martínez Campos, Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants.
“As we continue to reflect on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our city, it is clear that this crisis has exposed the deep-rooted inequities that affect so many of our communities of color across the five boroughs,” said Human Resources Administration (HRA) Administrator Gary Jenkins. “This Administration understands that a full recovery for New York City can only occur if all of our communities are able to share in the growth and prosperity, and we at DSS-HRA are committed to advancing that mission, ensuring that New Yorkers in need have access to vital resources and services to make ends meet during these challenging times.”
In addition to building awareness and advocating for policies and systems that provide opportunity and access for all New Yorkers, DCWP’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), is committed to providing services that help to improve the financial health of New Yorkers. DCWP encourages anyone who experienced a change in income and needs help navigating tools and resources to withstand an income shock creating a realistic budget, opening a bank account, or managing debt to make an appointment with a professional financial counselor at an NYC Financial Empowerment Center. Anyone who lives or works in New York City, can book an appointment for free, one-on-one financial counseling—which is currently mostly available via phone—at or by calling 311.
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 59,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCWP and its work, call 311 or visit DCWP at or on its social media sites, , , and .