Scenes from a job crisis as NYC grapples with a labor shortage: ‘It’s a mess’

Scenes from a job crisis as NYC grapples with a labor shortage: ‘It’s a mess’

Stunning new data has shown that New York has seen its workforce fall by around 300,000 people since the pandemic. While New York added 13,500 jobs in December, the city is lagging behind pre-COVID levels.

Some in the city share their struggles with labor shortages and the downturn in business.

Tourists are not here

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

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

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

“First, we have people who don’t come down. Nobody went out. It diminished a little, but it will never be the same. The biggest loss are the tourists. No tourists come into the country. We have very international customers.”

Crowds of visitors in Times Square after the holidaysNYC has struggled with a labor shortage since the start of the COVID pandemic. ZUMAPRESS.com

Not enough workers

“It’s a mess,” says a manager at Il Mullino Italian restaurant in the West Village. “You can’t find the people who know what they’re doing since the pandemic. . . The dishwasher, they used to wash dishes. Now they smash glasses and dishes and laugh. You can’t do anything.”

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

High turnover

Ziyad Hermez, 38, owner of Manousheh, a Lebanese bakery on Bleecker Street, said he has had the same number of 12 employees since the pandemic, but had found it difficult to keep them.

“We’ve just put out job ads and they’re not coming down. The job advertisements are always online. We have discussions all the time,” he said.

Ziad HermezZiyad Hermez said it has been difficult to keep his 12 employees. Steven Vago/New York Post

“It was a lot slower,” he said — that is, since the pandemic, adding that he was making $900,000 to $1 million in sales before the pandemic, compared to $600,000 in 2022.

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

He said people are taking two weeks now. “I’ll schedule about 60 interviews for the week, and two people will show up. The number may sound crazy, but literally that is what is happening.”