Scenes from a job crisis as NYC struggles with a staff shortage

Surprising new data has revealed that New York’s workforce has fallen by about 300,000 people since the pandemic. While New York added 13,500 jobs in December, the city remains behind pre-COVID levels.

Some from the city share their struggles with dealing with a labor shortage and business downturn.

Tourists are not here

Sevestet Sakar, 78, owner of the West Village leather store Village Tannery, has been around 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 scale back production.”

“The money has gone down”, probably “half way through” since the pandemic.

“First of all, we have people who don’t come down. Nobody went out. It’s picked up a bit, but it will never be the same again. The biggest loss is the tourists. No tourists enter the country. We have very international customers.”

Crowds of post-holiday visitors in Times Square
NYC has been experiencing labor shortages since the start of the COVID pandemic.

Not enough workers

“It’s a mess,” says a manager of 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 did the dishes. Now they break glasses and plates and laugh. You can’t do anything.’

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 has had the same number of 12 employees since the pandemic, but it was difficult to keep them.

“We just posted job openings and they aren’t coming down. The vacancies advertisements are always up. We are constantly interviewing,” he said.

Ziyad Hermez
Ziyad Hermez said it was difficult to keep his 12 employees.
Steven Vago/NY Post

“It has slowed down a lot,” he said — by which he means since the pandemic, adding that he made $900,000 to $1 million in sales before the pandemic, compared to $600,000 in 2022.

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

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

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