Here is the latest fiscal scorecard for our New York. 

But first a Message from the NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer:

We are living through extraordinary times – as a nation, as a City, and as individuals and communities.  A pandemic is raging that has no parallel in the past century. And in an unprecedented move, our economy was put on hold in order to protect lives and “flatten the curve,” resulting in mass layoffs and lost income for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and a dramatic drop in tax revenues.  In these difficult and uncertain times, I offer this weekly update on the state of our City’s economy and finances in order to provide the public, elected officials, advocates and experts with a clear-eyed, sober assessment of the challenges.

Make no mistake – New York City will recover. Together we have overcome many challenges, and I know we will rise to the one ahead.


Scott M. Stringer

The Economy

National Indicators

  • U.S. employment rose by 4.8 million in June – an increase of 4.3%. New York State employment rose by 296,000, an increase of 4.5%.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate fell from 13.3% in May to 11.1% in June.
  • Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell modestly again to 1.3 million for the week ending July 11th (Chart 1). Continuing claims also declined to 17.3 million, from 18 million the prior week.

New York State and New York City

  • The New York Federal Reserve’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey (Chart 3) conducted in early July and released July 15 shows the index rose to 17.2. Positive index values indicate improving business conditions, and this represents the first improvement in New York State business activity since February.
  • Orders, shipments, and delivery times increased. Inventories and selling prices declined. Employment levels and hours worked remained unchanged.
  • Optimism about future changes declined from June but remained positive.
  • The New York City unemployment rate rose from 18.3% to 20.4%. The increase largely reflects higher June labor force participation, which had dipped from 60.4% in February to 55.8% in April.  Since then, more New Yorkers have begun looking for work again as the economy begins to re-open.
  • Initial unemployment claims by New York City residents remained roughly flat for the week ending July 11, at 46,256 (Chart 4).

Chart 4

New York City 2020 Unemployment and Labor Force Participation(Seasonally Adjusted)

Unemployment Rate Labor Force Participation 

A Unemployment Rate Labor Force Participation Rate
January 3.5% 60.4%
February 3.4% 60.4%
March 4.1% 58.8%
April 15.0% 55.8%
May 18.3% 54.8%
June 20.4% 59.5%

SOURCE: New York State, Department of Labor

MTA Ridership

  • Average weekday MTA subway ridership rose to 1.22 million during the week beginning July 13th (through Thursday), an increase of roughly 6% from the previous week.  Average weekday bus ridership also increased to nearly 1.20 million. Prior to the shutdown, weekday ridership averaged 5.4 million on subways and 2.2 million on buses. 

MTA Average Weekday Ridership

Excludes holidays.  Figures for the week ending July 17 includes data through Thursday, July 16. 

  • Manhattan small business revenue was already declining in early March, and had declined by 70% by the end of March, as businesses shut, and commuters stayed home. Despite some recovery Manhattan small business revenue in early July is still down over 40% from the beginning of January. 
  • Outer borough small businesses, less dependent on commuters, fared better but still experienced revenue declines of 40% to 60% by early April. In July, Staten Island and Queens small business revenue remains down over 20% from January. 

City Finances

COVID Spending

  • The authorized modified FY 2020 budget for COVID-related spending is $4.01 billion for FY 2020. One third of the budget, $1.34 billion, is for medical, surgical and laboratory supplies. The modified budget also anticipates that $351 million of employee health insurance expenditures will be eligible for Federal COVID reimbursement.
  • Of the total authorized COVID budget, $2.78 billion has been committed – that is, the City has incurred obligations for that amount – as of July 15. Medical, surgical and lab supplies account for $1.26 billion of the commitments. Of the total commitments, $1.45 billion has been expended.


COVID Contracts

  • Through July 15, the City has registered $3.27 billion in contracts to procure goods and services in response to the COVID pandemic (Table 2). More than a quarter of the contracts, $883 million, are for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE). Other significant contracts include $505 million for medical staffing for COVID-19, food related contracts for $620 million, $349 million for hotels, $146 million for ventilators and $100 million for testing centers, as shown below.

Registered COVID Contracts through 7-15-2020

  Maximum Contract Amount
Personal Protective Equipment $883 M
Ventilators 146 M
Medical Staffing for COVID-19 505 M
Hotels 349 M
Food Related Contracts 620  M
IT Related Contracts 93  M
Temporary Staff Contracts 24 M
Testing Centers 100 M
Other Medical, Surgical and Lab Supplies 197  M
Other 353 M
Total $3.270  B

SOURCE: Office of the Comptroller analysis of NYC FMS data.

NOTE: Includes only contracts with COVID budget codes.

Cash Position

  • The City’s central treasury balance (funds available for expenditure) stood at $12.004 billion as of Wednesday, July 15. At the same time last year, the City had $9.627 billion (Chart 7). The Comptroller’s Office’s review of the City’s cash position during the first quarter and projections for cash balances through September 30th, 2020, are available here.



Mounting Challenges for Institutes of Higher Education

In any other year, New York City would welcome the late summer arrival of students and faculty from all over the world to the city’s roughly 120 institutes of higher education. In 2019, the city’s colleges and universities enrolled more than half a million students and employed nearly 121,000 workers. This year, however, the arrival of students and faculty is far less certain.

In recent weeks, schools have begun to announce detailed reopening plans. According to a tracker from the Chronicle of Higher Education, among undergraduate institutions that have announced plans, about 75% of New York City colleges and universities plan to offer a hybrid model of in-person and online learning, including City University of New York (CUNY) campuses. Conversely, across the country currently more than half of campuses plan to reopen in person.

NYC Undergraduate College and University Plans for the Fall

Considering a range of scenarios 8%
Planning for in-person 11%
Planning for online 6%
Proposing a hybrid model 75%

SOURCE: NYC Comptroller’s Office analysis of data provided by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Note: Data is current as of July 15, 2020 and includes institutions that serve undergraduate students. CUNY campuses are counted individually. According to The Chronicle, “Colleges that plan a mix of online, in-person, hybrid, or blended learning are classified as ‘hybrid.’ Colleges that intend to convene only a few classes in person, such as labs, are classified as ‘online.’”

Institutes of higher education face a multitude of challenges including health and safety concerns, travel restrictions, financial uncertainty, changing visa rules for international students, and a recent spike in COVID-19 cases among young adults. While blaming a dim fiscal outlook and the absence of federal funding, CUNY notified 2,800 adjunct faculty and staff in late June that they would not be reappointed in the fall. The union representing CUNY staff filed a lawsuit in federal court shortly thereafter, alleging that the layoffs violate the terms of federal coronavirus aid.

Further complicating plans, on July 6 the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that students would be denied visas if their fall classes were fully online. However, following widespread criticism and legal challenges, ICE withdrew the guidelines on July 14.