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New layoff notices show unyielding coronavirus impact on state economy

ALBANY – New Yorkers don’t have to look far to see the economic and financial crisis Covid-19 is causing in their own homes or those of relatives and friends and neighbors.

But there is a place where the virus’ economic hit is being vividly updated daily and playing out on an hourly basis: the state Department of Labor’s WARN site, which tracks some of the layoffs hitting New Yorkers.

In two hours Wednesday morning, 16 more companies from across the state notified officials that the coronavirus was forcing them to lay off a total of 1,840 people – in positions from sushi chefs and waxing technicians to electricians and hotel workers. And that's just from companies that are actually following legal requirements to notify the state of such job actions affecting businesses of a certain size.

The brief snapshot of WARN notices by businesses follows day after day of a similar rush of filings to the state Labor Department in Albany, which also is unable to cope with the rush of unemployment filings from people across the state.

The new filings come from companies that were able to slow the economic hit on employees in the early weeks of the coronavirus spread. In most cases, the word “temporary” is used to describe layoffs or a plant or business closing.

An Elmira collection agency on Wednesday filed its WARN notice, laying off 146 people, because of “unforeseen business circumstances prompted by Covid-19.”

On Wednesday morning, Waxing Centers of Buffalo LLC, a hair removal and waxing firm based in Orchard Park, filed a WARN notice saying 93 of 104 workers today are being laid off. Two days earlier, Installs LLC, a satellite dish supplier in Buffalo, told the state it was laying off 179 workers.

“New York State WARN notices are being posted and will be continuously updated as more information is received from the business,’’ the DOL states on its WARN site. It is encouraging employers with fewer than 50 full-time workers not to file the notices.

WARN, or the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, is aimed at protecting workers by providing advance notice – 60 days – of a plant closing or mass layoff. However, there are numerous exceptions, like “unforeseen business circumstances,’’ so that no advance notice is given, according to the law.

The New York businesses submitting WARN notices just for part of Wednesday morning told the state of the unyielding economic impact the virus continues to have in every part of the state: 60 workers at a sushi chain in New York City; 31 electricians in Queens; 83 workers at a Westchester County inn; 31 employees at a Broome County law firm; 57 people at a Finger Lakes firm that does auto interior work for classic cars; 27 workers at an indoor go-kart place in Rockland County; and 236 people at a promotional product company on Long Island.

Also Wednesday morning, 770 workers at the casino owned by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in far northern New York, one of the state’s poorest areas, were laid off, as were 62 workers at a catering firm in midtown Manhattan.

The day before, layoffs hit 94 workers at Hanky Panky, a lingerie maker in Manhattan, a private Jewish school in Brooklyn, a call center for custom windows on Long Island, as well as big and small hotels, trendy eateries, bakeries, a sporting goods store and a downstate physical and occupational therapy firm with 19 offices. Most of the WARN notices this week were filed by businesses in downstate – the economic engine of New York State.

By Wednesday night, hundreds of more people were officially listed on the state labor department site as losing their jobs across New York, including 78 people at a breast cancer clinic in Rochester, more than 1,000 New York City hotel workers at places including the Harvard Club and a Fairfield Inn property in the World Trade Center area and 114 people at the Greyhound Lines bus company.

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