New York faces lasting economic toll, even as pandemic rages on

“It has gone from feeling very lonely and now feeling very normal,” said Mr. Gray.

Wall Street and the banking sector are the pillars of the city’s economy, and they have been one of the most aggressive industries to push employees back into the office. Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman told investors and analysts this month that “if you want to get paid in New York, you need to live in New York.”

Many firms, including Blackstone and Morgan Stanley, have huge real estate or debt to the industry, so Citizens are more than proud in their push to bring back workers. Technology companies such as Facebook and Google are increasingly important employers as well as major commercial tenants, and they increase their office space. But they have been more flexible about letting employees continue to work remotely.

Google, which has 11,000 employees in New York and plans to add 3,000 over the next few years, intends to return to its offices in West Chelsea in September, but workers will need to come only three days a week. The company has also said that 20 percent of its employees can apply to work remotely full-time.

The decision for a small portion of employees at Google and other companies to stay part of the house or for the entire week could have a significant economic impact.

Even if only 10 percent of Manhattan office workers start working remotely most of the time, that means more than 100,000 people a day don’t pick up coffee and bagels on their way to work or after. Drink in, said James Parrott, an economist. New York City Affairs Center at The New School.

“I expect many people to return, but not all,” he said. “We could lose some neighborhood businesses as a result.”

The absence of white-collar workers hurts people like Danuta Klosinski, 60, who has been cleaning office buildings in Manhattan for 20 years. She is one of more than 3,000 office cleaners who live out of work, according to Dennis Johnston, their union’s vice president, local 32BJ of Service Employees International Union.

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