To really see New York City inequality, just ride the subway

New York is increasingly a tale of two states — and Mayor Bill de Blasio presides over the superrich one. This would be good news for a mayor with a real plan: That is, we’ve got the money to start fixing our subway woes, and a historic chance to do it.

De Blasio is still on his inequality kick, although he has run out of ideas about how to fix it.

But the real inequality crisis is not within Gotham. It’s between New York City and the rest of the state.

Just look at the figures from a jobs report by the state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli. Over the half-decade since we got out of recession, New York City has created three out of four of the state’s new jobs, even though we have only 42 percent of the state’s population. Since 2009, Gotham has seen job growth of 11.3 percent, almost double the national figure. Meanwhile, “other regions of New York showed . . . smaller job

growth or job losses,” notes DiNapoli.

Some of our new jobs pay quite well, too. People working in New York City make, on average, 14 percent more than they did in 2009, beating inflation by more than a third. If you work on Long Island, the Hudson Valley or in the central part of the state, you make less than you did five years ago, after accounting for inflation.

Gotham is doing well on pay because its white-collar jobs — not just finance, but tech and other professions, too — pay well.

Far too many Gotham workers, particularly in the tourism industry, don’t make much money. But they still prefer the city. “The only region in the state that expanded its labor force over the post-recession period was New York City,” says DiNapoli.

The city has more people than ever living here and working here, or looking for work — because here is where the jobs are, well-paid or not. Everywhere else in the state, the labor force has shrunk — because people have stopped looking for jobs that aren’t there.

For now, this is all great for de Blasio. We’ve got so much tax money coming from Wall Street and Google workers that he can balance the budget without having to do anything. Just between May and July, the city increased its tax-revenue estimates by a billion dollars. Next year, if all goes OK — always a big if — we’ll have $2 billion more in tax dollars than we had this year.

The mayor should be using that money to attack our real problems.

Right now, record-low crime plus all those new jobs mean that our problems are the woes that come with growth.

To see how that works in practice, de Blasio should spend a week commuting on the subway from various points in the city: taking the No. 7 train from Flushing, the L train from Greenpoint, the F train from Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Such an exercise may remind de Blasio that while a few rich people can bail out of mass transit by taking ever-cheaper black cars, most New Yorkers are stuck on a subway system that is creaking under record ridership.

The mayor should do some weekend, night and borough-to-borough commutes, too, so he can see how hard it is for lower-paid, off-hours workers to get around when the MTA cuts its service.

Then, the mayor should agree to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request to put $3 billion into investments in subways and buses over the next five years, helping to pay for the next few stops on the Second Avenue Subway, plus better technology on existing subway lines.

The mayor should think seriously, too, about funding his own transit project. He mentioned a subway on Utica Avenue, and then never talked about it again. With China’s economy cratering, it’s a good time to build — steel and concrete are cheaper.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s extension of the 7 train to Manhattan’s Far West Side will open soon — and New Yorkers will remember that Bloomberg did it.

What will they remember about de Blasio?

Almost halfway through his first term, de Blasio’s set not to be a disaster or a success, but a placeholder. He leaves day-to-day management to competent folk while he gallivants around the world.

It could be worse. But he leaves long-range vision in the hands of . . . no one.

Placeholders are the ones who are forgotten.

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

Esche excited about Comets’ schedule, new division

Count Utica Comets President Rob Esche among those happy with the American Hockey League’s 2015-16 schedule.

After two seasons in the league’s Western Conference, the Comets will play in the Eastern Conference’s North Division this season. The move keeps the Comets in the Eastern time zone for much of the team’s 76-game schedule.

Robert Esche
Robert Esche

“We’re enthused,” Esche said after the schedule’s release Thursday afternoon. “It’s a huge bonus to be in the Eastern Conference. Travel goes down. Players get more rest and more preparation time. It’s a lot easier on the body.

“Playing in the Western Conference is challenging from a player’s perspective because you’re always in planes and hotels.”

The Comets open the season on the road against the Rochester Americans on Saturday, Oct. 10. That’s four days after the team is scheduled to return from a joint training camp with the Syracuse Crunch in Lyon, France.

Utica’s home opener is Wednesday, Oct. 21, against Rochester. It’s possible that former Comets Cal O’Reilly and Bobby Sanguinetti will be on the ice for the Americans after both signed with the parent Buffalo Sabres in the offseason. Before the game, the Comets plan to unveil a Western Conference championship banner to mark last season’s postseason achievement. The Comets also play the Hershey Bears on Friday, Oct. 23, and the Crunch on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Aud. The Comets play 26 of their 38 home games on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

The move to the Eastern Conference also puts Utica in a division with Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Binghamton, St. John’s and Toronto.

“It is going to be terrific,” Esche said. “Those are built-in rivalries (with the other teams in New York).”

Conference realignment was necessary after the creation of the Pacific Division. That division is comprised mostly of teams that will play on the West Coast, where their parent clubs are located. Five teams – Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose and Stockton – that joined the league in January as part of the new division will each play 68 games. All other teams play 76 games.

“(The difference in games) is not great from a parity standpoint,” Esche said. “For players in the Pacific, there’s less wear and tear. It’s a little bit more taxing for Eastern teams.

“But it was a way to keep the strength of the league. Give credit to (AHL Commissioner) Dave Andrews. He went out and held everything together in the league’s 80th year.”

Realignment also means seven new teams will play the Comets for the first time. Hartford (the affiliate of the New York Rangers), Hershey (Capitals), Lehigh Valley (Flyers), Portland (Panthers), Providence (Bruins), St. John’s (Canadiens) and Springfield (Coyotes) all come to Utica.

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