| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The recession put a 3.1 percent dent in the personal incomes of New York state residents, who endured their first full-year decline in more than 70 years, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Paychecks or net earnings tumbled 5.4 percent, while dividends, interest and rent slid 8.4 percent, to a grand total of nearly $908 billion, the state comptroller's report said.
Not only did New Yorkers' personal incomes fall "almost twice" as much as they did in the nation as a whole, but they have yet to recover to pre-recession levels, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.
The drop occurred even though the job-destroying recession was milder in New York than in the rest of the country. One reason for the hit to New Yorker's pocketbooks is Wall Street's dominance among the state's employers; pay and job security are often highly volatile in the securities industry.
After the securities industry lost a record $54 billion in the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, federal bailouts and low interest rates helped it achieve record profits in 2009 of $61.4 billion, DiNapoli said.
This year, the companies' first-quarter profits of $10.1 billion were more than twice the $3.9 billion total in the second quarter -- but the more recent earnings were "in line with historic levels," DiNapoli said.
Though Wall Street went on a bit of a hiring spree in early 2010, these employers, whose earnings drive the city and state economies, have gone back to handing out pink slips, he said.
During the first eight months of this year, they sliced 4,200 positions, which means 31,300 securities industry jobs have been lost since January 2008, the report said. Still, employment data for Wall Street can be difficult to fathom as workers often collect generous severance checks and thus do not show up in the state labor reports for many months.
The New York gubernatorial campaign, which pits Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, against Buffalo real estate developer and Republican candidate Carl Paladino, has accentuated the economic divide between the more prosperous downstate region and the hard-pressed upstate area.
"Job growth has been concentrated in New York City and its suburbs, which added a total of 90,000 jobs since December 2009," said DiNapoli, a Democrat who also stands for election in November.
The entire state, which has over 19 million people, lost 367,400 jobs from April 2008 to December 2009. During the recession, the state's unemployment rate hit a 17-year high of 8.9 percent.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Jan Paschal)