Lisa Chow is the economics reporter at WNYC. She tries to explore in her stories surprising aspects of New York’s many economies—in plain view or hidden, in neighborhoods or sectors.
Politicians and economists have long said New York City's economy is extremely dependent on Wall Street — but new numbers from the New York Federal Reserve suggest that may be changing.
In a press briefing Friday, economists at the New York Fed said during every recovery since the 1970s, Wall Street started gaining jobs before Main Street except in this last boom-bust cycle.
This time, the upturn on Main Street started in late 2009, four months before it did on Wall Street.
"It reflects underlying strength in sectors outside Wall Street," said Jason Bram, senior economist at the New York Fed.
The Fed's economists were reluctant to speculate further on why employment on Main Street grew before it did in the city's financial industry, but the president of the New York Fed, William Dudley, said tourism — not Wall Street — has helped drive job growth for restaurants, hotels and retail stores.
"The city is now very attractive from a tourist's perspective," Dudley said. "I think the economy is becoming a little bit more diversified, a little bit less dependent on the finance sector."
Since February 2010, Wall Street has added 10,300 jobs. Retail, leisure and hospitality have gained nearly twice that.
Wall Street accounts for 5 percent of employment and 25 percent of total income earned in New York City.