Saturday, July 13, 2013

Brooklyn shows notable growth in jobs, but still has high unemployment rate; "people can't even live off" part-time jobs, as at Barclays Center

There was a flurry of news yesterday fueled by a report from the Center for an Urban Future that said, as summarized in the Wall Street Journal, Brooklyn Shows Best Growth in Private-Sector Jobs:
Brooklyn companies created almost half of the city's new jobs over the past 12 years, four times more than Manhattan and more than any other borough, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future released Thursday.
The borough's jobs grew by 19% from 2000 to 2012, fueled by retail, health care, technology companies, design firms and manufacturers, said Jonathan Bowles, the center's executive director, citing numbers from the state Department of Labor. More than 15% of the city's private jobs are now in Brooklyn, while Manhattan's share has dropped to 60% from 65% in the same period.
Brooklyn vs. Queens

Note that Brooklyn, a former city with a significant manufacturing base, is in a sense only catching up to its job percentage 50 years ago, which Queens--though it's not on the same recent growth curve--is most responsible for cutting into Manhattan dominance.


Where the jobs are

The Journal reported:
"Look at a neighborhood like Dumbo," Mr. Bowles said. "Prior to 2000, there weren't a lot of people living there. There weren't a lot of people working there. Now, you've got retail, tons of design companies, tech companies and restaurants. Neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint have seen such development and growth."
Indeed, that's why the New Domino plan in Williamsburg includes office space, and Greenpoint's getting the headquarters of Kickstarter.

Retail jobs and the arena

The article provides an important caution about the most-ballyhooed job "creator":
Retail jobs tend to be lower paid. Community advocates say that while jobs numbers may be growing, many people are working several of them. The Barclays Center, which now employs 2,000 people, only has 100 full-time jobs, for example.
"With retail growth, these are all part-time jobs that frankly people can't even live off of in Brooklyn anymore," said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change [NYCC], a nonprofit group that works with low-income residents. "What we see is they have picked up one, two sometimes even three low-wage jobs," he added.
I'm sure Westin wasn't asked directly about the arena, but it should be noted that NYCC is developer Forest City Ratner's partner on the Atlantic Yards affordable housing.

The picture I described in May still applies: with more than 1 million Brooklynites employed, and more than 100,000 unemployed, the addition of 1,240 FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs at the arena, especially given that all but 105 come without benefits, cannot make a "dent," a term promoted by New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser.

How much does Brooklyn lag?

According to the state Department of Labor, Brooklyn still has the second highest unemployment rate in New York City, behind the Bronx.

The numbers have improved in the past year, but there's still a dichotomy at work: general improvement but still many left behind.



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