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DiNapoli: Brooklyn Economy Sets Records

Job Growth Leads NYC, Outpaces the Nation

June 15, 2018

Employment grew faster in Brooklyn since the end of the recession than in the rest of New York City, the state and the nation, and its unemployment rate has fallen to a record low, according to an economic report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"It’s an exciting time for Brooklyn with record employment, business growth, and a budding tech sector," DiNapoli said. "Brooklyn is also home to world-class cultural and academic institutions, which play an important role in the local economy and in attracting new residents. While there are still challenges that need to be addressed, including poverty and a shortage of affordable housing, this report shows that the efforts of Brooklyn’s elected leaders, business community and civic groups are paying off."

Brooklyn has set employment records for eight consecutive years. Since 2009, Brooklyn added 172,600 private sector jobs, far more than the 1,400 lost during the recession and nearly four times as many as during the second strongest expansion between 1992 and 2000. In 2017, private sector employment grew by 4.4 percent, nearly twice as fast as the city overall.

The borough’s unemployment rate fell from the recessionary peak of 9.9 percent in 2010 to 4.6 percent in 2017, the lowest annual level since the data series was created in 1990. The rate declined further to 4.2 percent in April 2018. However, the unemployment rate is higher in some neighborhoods and for some segments of the population.

Brooklyn (Kings County) is the most populous county in New York state and the second most densely populated county in the nation after Manhattan. Its population grew by 19 percent since 1980 to reach 2.6 million in 2017, making up 31 percent of the city’s total population.

There were nearly one million foreign-born residents borough-wide in 2016, representing 36 percent of the total population (the sixth-highest share of any county in the nation). Immigrants made significant contributions to the local economy, making up 48 percent of the work force and 57 percent of the self-employed entrepreneurs.

Brooklyn is among the most racially and ethnically diverse areas in the nation. In 2016, whites accounted for 36 percent of the borough’s residents, Blacks or African Americans accounted for 30 percent, Hispanics or Latinos accounted for 19 percent and Asians accounted for 12 percent. Since 1980, population growth has been driven by an increase in the Asian population, which grew from 41,000 to 314,000 in 2016 (the latest year for which demographic data are available).

There were 61,300 businesses in 2017, an increase of 32 percent since the end of the recession in 2009 and the most since at least 1975 when the data series began. This was the fastest rate of growth among the five boroughs and almost double the citywide growth rate (17 percent). Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) had fewer than five employees and 84 percent had fewer than 10 employees.

Business sales grew by 48 percent between 2009 and 2016 (slightly faster than the citywide growth rate of 44 percent), reaching a record of $13.6 billion in 2016. The areas of Crown Heights, Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant had the fastest growth, with sales more than doubling in each neighborhood.

The technology sector is one of the fastest-growing and highest paying employment sectors in Brooklyn. Since 2009, employment has grown by 57 percent, reaching a record of 9,800 jobs in 2017. With an average salary of $92,900, technology is among the borough’s highest-paying industries.

While 5,500 fewer households were living in poverty in 2016 compared to six years earlier, one-fifth of the households in Brooklyn had incomes below the federal poverty line, slightly higher than the citywide rate (18.4 percent). The poverty rate ranged from 10.6 percent in the Canarsie area to 35.6 percent in Brownsville and Ocean Hill. Seniors had a higher poverty rate (25.3 percent) than the citywide rate for this population (21.6 percent).

Median rent has soared in a number of neighborhoods undergoing gentrification, making it more difficult for long-term residents not residing in rent-regulated apartments or public housing to remain in their homes. For example, median rent increased by more than 50 percent between 2006 and 2016 in the Census-defined neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, and Brownsville and Ocean Hill.

More than half (54 percent) of all households devoted 30 percent or more of their incomes to rent in 2016 (the level at which rent is considered a burden). Nearly one-third (31 percent) faced a severe rent burden, devoting at least half of their incomes to rent. The number of households that devoted at least half of their incomes to rent increased by 17 percent between 2007 and 2016.

"Four years ago, Comptroller DiNapoli’s economic snapshot of Brooklyn showcased the incredible economic output and opportunity we created in the preceding decade, as well as the potential we had to expand that prosperity to every corner of our borough and ensure sustainable growth for our future," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. "Today, I’m pleased that his updated analysis shows that the County of Kings continues to outpace the nation with our thriving job market, burgeoning tech sector, and a cultural landscape that is the envy of the world, attracting an estimated 15 million visitors every year. I’m proud of the efforts our administration has taken to increase investment in our borough, develop emerging industries, and connect more Brooklynites to college and career success. We are the economic engine that drives New York City, New York state, and indeed America."

"This economic report is clear evidence that Brooklyn is moving in a decidedly positive direction," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). “The borough’s record business growth and low unemployment rate serve as a proof that the hard work of our community’s officials and leaders have been, and will continue to be, successful. I thank Comptroller DiNapoli for shining a light on the progress Brooklyn has made since the end of the recession, and I look forward to working with him to ensure this economic prosperity benefits all residents."

"Brooklyn is a diverse mosaic of some of the smartest people and best-run companies in the world. Its continued success is no surprise," said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)."We must continue to work diligently to ensure that people have access to good-paying jobs and that businesses have the freedom and resources needed to thrive. I am incredibly fortunate to represent such a magical place.”

"I'm glad to see the Comptroller's report shows a marked improvement in NY's economy," said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (D-19th Senate District). "As elected officials, we must continue to push for more investment to enable hardworking New Yorkers realize the quality of life they strive for. I will continue to fight to ensure that this improvement reaches the most poor and vulnerable households."

"This report confirms what Brooklynites have long known. There’s no doubt about it — Brooklyn is booming," said Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-26th Senate District). "With record low unemployment and record high business sales, it’s clear the borough’s economy is firing on all cylinders. Still, we must make sure Brooklyn’s economic success is felt in every community — and that New Yorkers aren’t pushed out of the communities they built. I’d like to thank Comptroller DiNapoli for compiling this report — and I look forward to working with the Comptroller and all of my colleagues to continue building a better, fairer New York."

"Brooklyn is moving forward with greater population growth and economic development. I am pleased that Comptroller DiNapoli's report demonstrates that Brooklyn is a ‘destination’ for people to relocate and build in," said Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz (D-51st Assembly District). "Sunset Park and other parts of the 51st Assembly district demonstrate this potential as our waterfront is rebuilt and employment opportunities for our residents expand."

"Brooklyn is proof that nurturing diversity and ingenuity by investing in new ideas creates a fresh live/work economy. Brooklyn is energetic, thriving and most important — welcoming — to everyone," said Assemblymember Joe Lentol (D-50th Assembly District)."I am proud of Brooklyn because we are teaching the country how to create the 21st century economy.”

"It is no surprise that Brooklyn, the most populous and one of the most diverse counties in our state, would be setting records in terms of job growth and employment," said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-41st Assembly District). "Diversity has always equaled innovation, and with a growing job market and initiatives promoting inclusion I only see great things ahead for our Borough, our City, and the State of New York."

"It’s no surprise to me that Brooklyn and its economy are growing and thriving,"said Assemblymember Peter Abbate (D-49th Assembly District). “As one of the largest economies in the world, with an immigrant population that comprises almost half the workforce, we are truly an example of the American Dream. We are home to innovators, entrepreneurs and working men and women who are shaping the borough to be successful and dynamic."

"I would like to commend State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for focusing attention on the economic growth that Brooklyn has been experiencing," said Assemblymember William Colton (D-47th Assembly District). “His thoroughness in finding areas that still need awareness will help to devote ourselves to improve life in our borough. The diversity and energy of all of the stakeholders in Brooklyn, working together with elected officials, makes Brooklyn an exciting place to live, work and raise a family."

"State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s report provides some excellent news for Brooklyn, including 4.4 percent job growth in 2017, the highest in the city," said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte (D-42nd Assembly District). "Of course, there is still a great deal of work to do especially around housing and tackling pockets of poverty in our borough. I do not doubt that with Comptroller DiNapoli by our side in Albany, we will be able to ensure that the economic engine of Brooklyn works for everyone."

"Employment in Brooklyn is at an all-time high and I am proud to represent one of the biggest commercial districts in the borough — Downtown Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s diverse population contributes to the richness of our culture and enhances our local economy," said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-52nd Assembly District). "Comptroller DiNapoli’s report on Brooklyn’s economy tells us what we already know — that Brooklyn is the best place to live and work. However, it also highlights that as we continue to grow, and more neighborhoods experience gentrification, wealth inequality is a serious concern. We must ensure that as Brooklyn expands, that we are committed to a fair and equitable community."

"Comptroller DiNapoli’s report confirms what those of us who live and work in Brooklyn have known for a long time — it is a diverse and growing community with a vibrant economy that appeals to businesses and innovators," said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. "Brooklyn is safer than it’s ever been and a great place to live, work and raise families. As the borough’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to keeping all business owners, employees, residents and visitors safe, which will in turn help our communities continue to thrive."

"I am thrilled to see that Brooklyn's economy continues to set records, with our unemployment rate falling to a record low and our employment rate growing faster since the end of the recession than in the rest of New York City, the state and the nation," said New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo. “We must work diligently to ensure that the economic benefits are felt by all of Brooklyn's families and communities, and by its small businesses. Our goals must be to promote both economic growth and equity."

"Now, more than ever, Brooklynites rely on public transportation to get to work and school," said City Councilman Alan Maisel. “With the ‘L’ train scheduled for repair, it is imperative that the appropriate accommodations be made to facilitate shuttle services and increased bus ridership for commuters."

"This report shows what we have known for a long time: Brooklyn is an incredible place to work, live, and raise a family," said City Council Member Brad Lander. "Brooklyn has made tremendous economic strides since the Great Recession, and has outpaced the rest of NYC in household income growth, educational attainment, and creation of new businesses, thanks in part to our large and industrious immigrant community. Of course, we cannot ignore persistent challenges, including a lack of affordable housing, the disrepair of public housing, and the inconsistent distribution of benefits of growth across our communities. But this report demonstrates that we have a lot to celebrate. Thanks to State Comptroller DiNapoli for authoring this report, and to all of the businesses, civic groups, and neighbors who have made our Brooklyn economy shine."

"The State Comptroller’s report provides an important view into the challenges faced in Brooklyn, but also into the progress made and the possibilities for the future," said City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. "The people of Brooklyn, a coalition of diverse communities I am proud to represent, are what make it strong, and who have driven a growth in business and a significant drop in unemployment. However, as we’ve seen in the past, when progress is made it is not always evenly distributed across the borough. Moving forward, we have a responsibility to provide support and relief to Brooklynites from all communities, particularly as rents continue to rise at unacceptable and untenable rates. Information is essential to properly serving the people of Brooklyn, and I thank State Comptroller DiNapoli for providing a road map to success, and for his continued support of the borough and its people."

"We’re proud to be part of this great borough—not only as a cultural destination, but as part of a growing Brooklyn Cultural District, which supports neighboring businesses, enhances the lives of Brooklyn residents, and attracts new neighbors," said Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) President Katy Clark.

"Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in New York City, and this is particularly true in Sunset Park Brooklyn with rapid growth in Asian Immigrant population. While I agree that business is booming in Brooklyn and with new developments popping up, the unfortunate end of that spectrum is affordable housing in Brooklyn has become rare to non-existent,” said Steve Mei Director, CPC Brooklyn Community Services. "As a service provider and as a city, I believe that we still have to do a much better job of providing training and skills development to our community members to be able to connect them to better paying jobs that are available in order for our community to thrive."

"It is clear that the continued growth of the Brooklyn economy depends on an educated, highly skilled workforce," said New York City College of Technology President Russ Hotzler. "City Tech is privileged to be in a position to help prepare the workforce that will take Brooklyn to the next level, from the clinical health professions, to the large and growing hospitality sector, to the evolving science and technologies that will define our future."

"Etsy is a product of New York City’s burgeoning tech sector. Thirteen years ago Etsy was founded in a Brooklyn apartment. Today, we are a global, publicly-traded company proudly headquartered in DUMBO," said Raina Moskowitz, senior vice president of People, Strategy and Member Services Etsy. "Companies like ours thrive when they are embedded in an ecosystem that rewards creativity and innovation — and Brooklyn does just that."

"It’s no surprise that Brooklyn is thriving in terms of business growth and as a leading innovation community. We recognize the successes, but know there are also challenges to be met as laid out in our 100-year plan for the borough. By preparing existing employers for the future and attracting dynamic new employers, Brooklyn can usher in further prosperity, catalyze neighborhood investment, futureproof the borough’s economy, and provide more economic opportunity for Brooklyn residents. We thank the Comptroller for providing this economic snapshot and addressing the borough’s needs for economic growth," said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Acting President Rick Russo.

"Thank you to State Comptroller DiNapoli for highlighting the economic growth in Brooklyn, where Asians are 13 percent of the borough’s population as of 2016," said Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation. “Asian-owned businesses are helping to move, house, and serve the people of Brooklyn and create new jobs for the community. From 2002 to 2012, Asian-owned firms in Brooklyn increased economic activity by 161 percent with the total annual payroll among these firms increasing by 139 percent in industries as diverse as transportation services, construction, dry cleaning and laundromats, nail and beauty salons, retail trade, and professional, scientific, and technical services."

"The resurgence of film and television production in New York has been successful beyond our wildest dreams," said Doug Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios. "The tax credit program makes money for the state while generating tens of thousands of high-paying, quality jobs. Media and tech represent New York’s economic future; kudos to Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for his steadfast support of this burgeoning industry."

"SUNY Downstate trains a third of the doctors who practice in New York City," said SUNY Downstate President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. "The Comptroller's report depicting job growth in healthcare aligns with the need for quality healthcare workers in a rapidly expanding population, and Downstate is a proud contributor to this economic engine."

DiNapoli’s report also found that:

  • An estimated 15 million visitors come to Brooklyn each year, stimulating the local economy.
  • Household income increased by 31 percent since 2010 to reach $55,200 by 2016, a much faster rate of growth than in any other borough.
  • Educational attainment grew faster than in any other borough since 2000, and only Manhattan had a higher share of college graduates.
  • Annual subway ridership has doubled since 1980 to more than 384 million. The L subway tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan is scheduled to be closed for repair for 15 months beginning in April 2019, which will disrupt businesses and commuters.
  • Health care is the largest employer in Brooklyn with 149,100 jobs in 2017, nearly one-quarter of all private sector jobs. Since 2009, the sector has added 52,100 jobs (a 54 percent increase), far more than any other sector.
  • Retail trade is the second-largest employer with 77,100 jobs. The sector grew by 36 percent between 2009 and 2017, more than twice as fast as in the rest of the city.
  • Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector more than doubled between 2009 and 2017, reaching a record 58,500 jobs. Most of the growth occurred in restaurants and bars.
  • Manufacturing has stabilized at about 20,000 jobs, but food and beverage manufacturing has grown by 31 percent since 2009 to 7,300 jobs, and electrical manufacturing has almost tripled to 600 jobs.
  • A 63 percent increase in construction permits between 2011 and 2017 fueled a growth in construction jobs, which increased by 40 percent since 2011 to reach a record of 32,100 jobs.
  • Since 2009, the information sector has increased by 58 percent (adding 3,900 jobs), driven by motion picture and sound recording, and telecommunications. Steiner Studios, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is the biggest U.S. film and television studio complex outside of Hollywood.
  • The number of rental units increased by 69,600 between 2006 and 2016, but many of these units were market-rate apartments. According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, more than 16,400 rent-stabilized apartments were lost to decontrol during this period.
  • Brooklyn has 58,447 public housing units, more than in any other borough, which provide homes to 134,529 residents. Many of these units are in disrepair.
  • Immigrants from the Caribbean accounted for 30 percent of the foreign-born population followed by immigrants from Asia (29 percent). Nearly one-fifth were from Central and South America, and another fifth were from Europe (mostly Eastern Europe and Russia).
  • Job growth exceeded 50 percent between 2009 and 2017 in the areas of Bedford-Stuyvesant (77 percent), Flatbush (70 percent), Borough Park (66 percent), Bensonhurst (62 percent) and Sheepshead Bay (59 percent). These areas accounted for 44 percent of the private sector job gains in Brooklyn since 2009, even though they accounted for only one-third of the jobs. Since 2000, employment has doubled in Borough Park, Flatbush and Coney Island.

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