FILE - NY real estate, construction Aug. 2016

Real estate construction projects are seen in August 2016 on the west side of Manhattan in New York City.

(The Center Square) – With New York’s tax revenue decreasing by tens of millions due to the real estate industry’s dramatic decline in transactions during the pandemic, the state may struggle to pay for essential services.

The state and New York City have seen a total decline of $160 million in tax revenue since the start of the pandemic in March, according to a new report by the Real Estate Board of New York.

“This data confirms the unprecedented economic crisis facing our City and State,” James Whelan, president of REBNY, said in a statement. “Our local economy must reopen in a healthy way.”

New York’s real estate industry is often called the economic engine of the city – last year it raised more than half of the city’s total annual tax revenue. In comparison, the personal income tax only raised 21 percent.

The city’s economic engine continues to struggle as the total residential and commercial sales volume declined 26 percent from April to May.

“We also need our public officials to put in place policies that will restart such economic activity rather than deepen the crisis,” Whelan said. “Promoting more real estate sales and transactions will produce the tax revenue the City and State need to pay for vital government services from education to infrastructure improvements.”