The state of the economy has sparked a sense of desperation in major cities around the world, and New York City is urging workers to return to their offices.
However, workers have expressed concern over attacks on the Big Apple’s subway system this year.
Some of New York City’s most powerful CEOs have confronted Mayor Eric Adams for answers, according to Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the New York City Partnership.
“The executives came out very strong, saying: We can’t in conscience bring our people back to work, encourage them to ride the subways, unless we see tangible evidence that you are doing something about this,” said Wylde.
The CEOs banded together after hearing news of high-profile attacks on subway drivers.
Murders & statistics
40-year-old Deloitte consultant Michelle Go was pushed towards an oncoming train in the Times Square subway station.
Five months ago, during rush hour, a gunman fired 33 rounds at commuters.
Daniel Enriquez, a Goldman Sachs executive, was shot dead in May by a fellow passenger.
With the city on edge, Mayor Adams spoke to reporters immediately after Go’s murder, saying:
“To lose a New Yorker in this fashion would only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system.”
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in 2022, the number of complaints like assaults and harassment in the transit system is almost identical to the one in 2019.
However, subway ridership is still roughly 60% of what it was three years ago. The attacks on the subway were also a factor in the increase in the crime rate in the city.
Meanwhile, police statistics indicate the homicide rate was lower than in 2021, when the United States slowly emerged from the pandemic blockade.
Despite the positive numbers, it is still higher than in 2019.
The number of crimes has also increased this year compared to last year and 2019.
While crime rates in New York City are at an all-time low, nearly half of registered voters responded to a poll, voting crime as “the most urgent issue facing New York City today.”
The effect on Wall Street
Go and Enriquez’s deaths worked for major financial institutions, causing concern for Wall Street.
Financial firms have spoken out in favor of returning workers to their offices, but Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon is concerned about crime.
“We have to have a safe environment for people,” said Solomon.
“I think public safety is just paramount for the vitality of the cities, and the vitality of cities is paramount for economic activity in our country.”
New York is not alone, as other cities have tackled public safety issues.
Billionaire Ken Griffin moved the Citadel headquarters from Chicago to Miami due to the city’s long-standing crime problems.
New York’s future is a concern
The issue of safety is a matter of fact for people, which is a concern for Kathryn Wylde, especially in terms of how it affects young people.
Polls show that people are more afraid of the subway and of crime.
Wall Street executives often stress the importance of getting young people back to work for mentorship and other career opportunities when discussing return-to-office plans.
However, Wylde recalls the 1960s when crime rates were much higher and notes that current residents lived in safer times.
“A whole generation of New Yorkers never gave a thought to their personal safety and security because we were the safest big city in America, perhaps the world,” says Wylde.
Leaders like Kathryn Wylde worry that if security concerns persist, New York City could lose its appeal for businesses and workers.