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Scenes from a jobs crisis as NYC struggles with a workforce shortage


Startling new data has revealed that New York had a roughly 300,000-person drop in its workforce since the pandemic. While New York added 13,500 jobs in December, it leaves the city short of pre-COVID levels.

Some from the city share their struggles dealing with a worker shortage and how business is down.

Tourists aren’t here

Sevestet Sakar, 78, owner of leather store Village Tannery in the West Village, has been in business for 49 years. 

“We were three people working in production and we only ended up maintaining one of the three,” she said. “We try, but it’s part-time. It’s not full-time. We had to reduce the production.” 

“Money is down,” probably “halfway” since the pandemic. 

“First of all, we have people not coming down. Nobody was going out. It picked up a little bit but it will never be the same. The biggest loss is the tourists. There are no tourists coming into the country. We have very international customers.” 

Crowds of post-holiday visitors in Times Square
NYC has dealt with a worker shortage since the start of the COVID pandemic.

Not enough workers 

“It’s a mess,” says a manager at Italian restaurant Il Mullino in the West Village. “You cannot find the people who know what they’re doing since the pandemic . . . The dishwasher, they used to wash dishes. Now they break glasses and dishes, and they laugh. There’s nothing you can do.” 

The restaurant had 35 employees before the pandemic but now has more part-timers, increasing that number to 45, “because they only want to work certain days, certain hours.” 

High turnover  

Ziyad Hermez, 38, owner of Manousheh, a Lebanese bakery on Bleecker Street, said he’s at the same number of 12 employees since the pandemic, but it’s been hard to retain them. 

“We’ve just been putting job ads up, and they don’t come down. The jobs ads are always up. We are constantly interviewing,” he said. 

Ziyad Hermez
Ziyad Hermez said it has been hard to maintain his 12 employees.
Steven Vago/NY Post

“It’s been much slower,” he said — meaning since the pandemic, adding that he made $900,000 to $1 million in sales pre-pandemic, compared to $600,000 in 2022. 

“We were always able to find people at the end of the day to interview and train them. The problem is how long do they last, right? Before we would have people that are here for at least three months.” 

He said now people last two weeks. “I’ll schedule like 60 interviews for the week, and two people will show up. The number might sound crazy but literally that’s what happens.”


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