From 2011 to 2012, the number of New Yorkers who were at or near poverty levels remained constant at 46%. According to a new report [PDF] released by the City's Center for Economic Opportunity and obtained by the Times, "nearly half of New Yorkers were making less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold, a figure that describes people who are struggling to get by."
Being gainfully employed does not necessarily keep you from "struggling to get by": 17% of families with a full time worker remained in poverty, as did 5.2% of families with two full time workers.
The poverty rate has stopped growing since the recession, but this belies the reality of a city that is impossibly expensive to live in and has only seen an increase in low-wage jobs with no benefits.
Mayor de Blasio's first deputy mayor Anthony Shorris says that the new administration "got elected almost entirely on this question," and vowed to fight "this stubborn undercurrent" with paid sick leave, a living wage law, municipal ID cards, and universal pre-K.
New York's reality mirrors what the country is experiencing. Per another report on the meager wage job boom in the Times:
The National Employment Law Project study found that there were about a million fewer jobs in middle-wage industries — including parts of the health care system, loan servicing and real estate — than there were when the recession hit.
Economists worry that even a stronger recovery might not bring back jobs in traditionally middle-class occupations eroded by mechanization and offshoring. The American work force might become yet more “polarized,” with positions easier to find at the high and low ends than in the middle.