Below are key findings of the impact of the recession on employment in New York City by the separate categories of gender, age, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment levels:

The largest increase in the unemployment rate occurred among working-age black men—their rate jumped from 9 percent in 2006 to 17.9 percent in 2009, effectively double for an increase of nearly 9 percentage points.

The highest unemployment rate in 2009 was among men ages 16–24 years—their unemployment rate hit 24.6 percent that year.

The largest decline in the labor force participation rate (though still relatively modest) occurred among men ages 16–24 years—their rate decreased from 43 percent in 2006 to 40 percent in 2009.

The lowest labor force participation rate in 2009 was among women without a high school or equivalent diploma—28 percent. This group also had the lowest labor force participation level in 2006, at 30 percent.

In 2009, while men ages 55–64 years had the longest average spell of unemployment, approximately 39 weeks, blacks had the highest percentage of those who had been unemployed for more than a year.

Nearly 40 percent of black New Yorkers who had held a job previously were unemployed for more than 12 months during the recession and early recovery. Overall, the average spell of unemployment during the recession/early recovery period was 29 weeks (just over 6 months).

The group with the lowest unemployment rate during the recession/early recovery was Asian women 55–64 years of age; their unemployment rate in 2009 was 4.5 percent, in spite of the fact that this group did not have the lowest unemployment rate of all demographic groups in 2006 (women with a bachelor’s degree or higher did—their unemployment rate was 2.3 percent in 2006).

Finally, in taking a look at the recession’s effect with respect to the combined categories of age, gender, and race/ethnicity, it appears that young black men ages 16–24 suffered the biggest negative impact in terms of their position in the city’s labor market.

To read the Community Service Society’s full report, go to

December 21, 2010