In drawn-out recovery, NYC inches out from COVID’s shadow

Emad Ahmed, center facing camera, works at his falafel cart in Zuccotti park in the financial district of New York, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. It’s becoming clearer that New York City’s recovery from the pandemic will be drawn out and that some aspects of the city’s economic ecosystem could be changed for good. More workers returned to their offices as the summer ended. But those limited numbers mean continued hardship for New Yorkers whose jobs are built around the commuting class. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK – As kids returned to school last month, people watching New York City pull itself out of COVID-19’s shadow wondered whether workers who fled Manhattan’s office towers during the pandemic would finally return in a rush, too.

More workers did return to their offices, at least part time, as the summer ended, limited data suggests. But the onset of autumn has also made it clearer than ever that the recovery will be drawn out, and that some aspects of the city’s economic ecosystem could be changed for good.

“We’re certainly entered a changed relationship between office workers and their offices,” said James Parrott, director of Economic and Fiscal Policies at the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.

That’s meant hardship for New Yorkers who are part of the economy built around the commuting class.

They are the workers whose livelihoods can’t happen over an internet connection, who have depended on that serendipity of a customer being in the right pla