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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

My op-ed for City Limits: "Stop Echoing Industry City’s Bogus Math on Jobs"

From my op-ed for City Limits yesterday, Stop Echoing Industry City’s Bogus Math on Jobs
After the proposed rezoning of the Industry City complex in Sunset Park was withdrawn, some framed it as a blow to employment. “Progressives Defeat Brooklyn Project That Promised 20,000 Jobs,” proclaimed a New York Times headline, distorted into “the prospect of 20,000 new jobs” in a Times newsletter.

Sure, “20,000 jobs” sounds appealing, especially in these parlous economic times. But that claim deserves scrutiny, not deference.

That calculation—based on pre-COVID estimates, of course—was dubious for two big reasons, only one of which was aired at the recent City Council hearing on the proposed rezoning. First, it referred to cumulative jobs, not new ones. Second, it stretched to include purportedly related jobs off-site.

Any Atlantic yards echoes?

This doesn't have much directly to do with Atlantic Yards, but I wouldn't have written it without having years of developer and elected official deception.

Indeed, it reminded me how numbers get inflated. Last year, Presidential candidate Bill de Blasio claimed that, during his New York City mayoralty, he’d “created” 122,000 affordable homes, rather than “created and financed” that number, since a significant portion were units preserved, not built.

In 2004, shortly after the announcement of Atlantic Yards, the developer promoted “10,000 new permanent jobs” in the projected office space, while an earlier press release had more cautiously said the jobs—which of course could be relocated positions—would be “created and/or retained.”

So the discussion and debate about Industry City shouldn't simply be whether How the left killed another major NYC development, to quote a Politico news report today. It should also address how the applicant spun the jobs figures.

Job-creation math

As I write, Industry City was dubiously counting off-site jobs spurred by project spending, which was not included in the project environmental impact statement. That means not headcount jobs for 8,000 people but rather 8,000 job-years, which could be 800 jobs over ten years or some other combination.

Unmentioned in my essay, but worth noting, is that such job-creation math is used under federal the visas-for-dollars program known as EB-5, which Industry City’s Kimball took advantage of when he headed the Brooklyn Navy Yard. That typically overinflates the job count, as in the Atlantic Yards example.

Also, if they're counting employment spurred by spending, it’s curious that Industry City wasn’t already touting purported off-site jobs spurred by past development spending. But maybe they realized it would’ve been a stretch.