Monday, January 19, 2009

Job Loss Here in the Big Apple

According to the Associated Press, New York City is expected to loose 181,000 jobs this year, which makes me happy that I am even partially and grossly under-employed. Unemployment in some places is expected to top 10 percent.

Of course the numbers in NYC are high. The financial industry is leading the freefall. Although my neighbor across the hall who works for Lehman still has a job with whomever bought them. What worries me is whether NYC will recover. Wall Street is the engine that drives this town, and one reason it's been so great to live here for the past ten years is that things on Wall Street have been good. I know that we recovered after the great depression and the 70s, and that the world still needs banks so will still need NYC, but some pundit a few weeks ago said "Wall Street is gone" and that worries me.

In spite of my country roots I am a city boy. My favorite places are San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, and Rome. After that you can throw in Yosemite and Big Trees Park in the Oakland Hills. In spite of the fact that I hunt and fish I think the greatest site in nature is a Midtown sidewalk at lunch time. Most of the things I love in the world--theatre, art, symphony opera: all of them except NASCAR, Hunting and the SCA--exist because of cities. New York is the greatest place for these things because of the patronage of Wall Street businesses and Wall Street tycoons. The Met Opera, the Met Museum, Carnegie Hall, the Public Theatre, MOMA, the Gugenheim, the Whitney--you know the list. Even the for profit stuff like Broadway, the Yankees, and the Giants rely heavily on the spending of people on Wall Street and of the corporations that buy tickets to entertain potential clients and contractors. If Wall Street is indeed over, if BofA actually does move most of the trading in America to North Carolina (Ok, I admit that if they were moving it to San Francisco I wouldn't be mad), and if London really does become the financial center of the world, then the greatest city in the world will cease to be.

And that is what worries me. That would be a tragedy (yes, tragedy) beyond belief.


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