Sunday, December 27, 2009

Unhappy New Yorkers?

There recently was a survey in the journal Science that reports New York State as the most "unhappy" state in the union. It actually ranks 51st because this survey included the District of Columbia (which clocked in as the 37th most unhappy place in our country, right behind Washington State and right before Missouri). Stuck at the very bottom, only Michigan and Connecticut ranked close to New York's misery.

I HEART NY -- not, I guess.

However, this survey does not say anything about NYC. On the one hand I can totally understand why New York State might be the biggest sad sack state. After all, the upstate economy is miserable with high unemployment, it freezes most of the year up there, and the state government is more corrupt than Louisiana in the 1930s and only slight less comical than a Monty Python sketch.

But the State of New York is not the state of NYC. Our city has certainly been hit very hard by the economic crunch but we have a dynamic service economy where new jobs are always being created. Plus Wall Street is doing much better these days so the tax revenues should be a little bit better in 2010. Crime continues to go down, down, down. And even though the city remain expensive, home prices have stabilized a bit.

So I hope the city is a little happier than the rest of the state. And actually New York City is better off in the long run than supposedly "happy" states like Florida and Arizona. Those states exist purely on housing and government support. If people and money keep coming in, they do great. If not, they die. This year the New Yorker dubbed Florida America's Ponzi State.

Our only Ponzi scheme here is (was) Madoff. Not the entire economy.

Now no one should ever live in NYC for that thing called "quality of life." People live here for other reasons -- like the reason this whole blog exists. But I think this survey shows something that's perennial about New York: in tough times, New York gets hit REALLY hard but in good times we prosper more than anywhere else. Right now we're obviously going through very tough times. But one day soon ... New York will be the happiest place in the world -- again.

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