Despite a boom in jobs, the unemployment rate for Black New Yorkers is over three times the rate of white New Yorkers. Mayor Eric Adams, in his second State of the City address, held at the Queens Theatre, said he plans on tackling the issue, among others, with his “Working People’s Agenda.”
“This era of inequality must end,” said Adams to a crowded room of electeds and supporters. “We are going to make sure that all New Yorkers finally have access to good jobs. We’re reimagining our city’s workforce development system from the bottom up.”
Adams is launching an apprenticeship accelerator and hopes to fill 30,000 apprenticeships by 2030. The apprenticeship program is specifically designed to funnel youth jobs into Black communities. It will provide on-the-job experience with employers, training providers, educational institutions and labor unions.
“It’s real, and we need to get New Yorkers back to work, all New Yorkers, if we’re going to have an equitable recovery,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Peers at the event.
Peers said he definitely approves of the significant investment in an apprenticeship program, which he feels isn’t spoken enough about as a way to “build middle-class jobs.”
CEO of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition Gregory J. Morris also applauded Adams’s apprenticeship and community hiring programs. He said in a statement that apprenticeships offer an extraordinary opportunity to bridge access to careers in the sectors that drive the city’s post-pandemic economy.
Adams has several other initiatives aimed at boosting the job market, including a biotech campus for startups, $25 billion in contracts to minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) over the next four years, more jobs for people with disabilities, an expansion of the CUNY 2x Tech program with a focus on serving first-generation college students and communities of color, growing the cannabis industry, and robust summer youth employment (SYEP) programs.
“[A]s we work to create more jobs, we will also help New Yorkers train for the jobs that are in high demand right now—jobs in tech, renewable energy and nursing,” said Adams. “New York City needs our nurses, who did such incredible work during the pandemic. Nurses are the hands, heart and soul of our healthcare system, and we will never forget you.”
Nurses at various city hospitals went on strike this month over miniscule staffing and low pay. In response, Adams has included in his agenda a new Nursing Education Initiative in partnership with CUNY to build the nursing workforce. Adams said the initiative will support 30,000 current and aspiring nurses over the next five years with everything from additional training to mentorship and clinical placements.
As usual, there were areas in the mayor’s address that advocate groups felt a huge theater setting, performances and a grand speech could not make up for.
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), a group that has been on the frontline of the asylum seeker crisis, sharply criticized Adams for “barely mentioning” the needs of immigrant New Yorkers in his address.
“Today, Mayor Adams spoke on creating jobs, safety and housing in New York City. ‘Everyone needs care, not just in crisis, but throughout our lives,’ said the Mayor, who then excluded immigrants and asylum seekers from his vision for NYC. By rendering us invisible[,] he failed to acknowledge a large proportion of New York’s population and the crucial role our communities have played in keeping New York open for business throughout this pandemic,” said NYIC Executive Director Murad Awawdeh in a statement.
Awawdeh said that scapegoating asylum seekers and immigrants is “callous and dangerous.” He called for more investment in English Language Learner (ELL) Transfer Schools Programs, hiring bilingual social workers in schools, legal services, and expanding eligibility to CityFEPS and other vouchers programs to move people out of shelters and into long-term housing.
At least 78 organizations sent a letter to rail against budget cuts to critical city services while expanding and preserving the NYPD budget.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.