Jobs Boom Narrative in Bronx and Brooklyn Doesn’t Tell Full Story


“Bronx is leading city in private sector job growth,” read a Daily News headline today.

“B’klyn tops outer-boro jobs boom,” read a New York Post headline today.

Both statements are accurate. Job data is malleable and, as Democrats and Republicans show when new numbers are released each month, the statistics can tell multiple, sometimes conflicting stories. Even together, these headlines tell only a partial narrative of where New York City’s jobs have gone. For the folks in BK and the BX the picture is not as rosy as the selected data suggest.

The News story, touting the Bronx, notes that private sector employment in the borough “increased 12.4% between 2000 and 2011 while the entire city had only a 2.4% hike.”

The Post‘s Brooklyn piece cites how the private-sector-jobs-pie is divided among boroughs, explaining that “Brooklyn is the city’s fastest-growing job market and now accounts for 15.1 percent of jobs, a jump from 13.4 percent in 2000.”

Left unsaid, though, is the great divergence between private and public sector jobs in America’s recovery. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of government jobs in New York City dropped by more than 5 percent. As the New York Times noted a couple of years ago, the shrinking of the public sector has especially affected black people, who have disproportionally held government jobs, particularly in big cities like New York.
And more than a third of residents in the Bronx and Brooklyn–the two least white boroughs in the city–are black.

So that helps explain how private sector employment in the Bronx can jump by 12.4 percent during a decade in which unemployment there shot from 7.2 percent to 14.1 percent.

The job markets may be growing in the two boroughs, but not yet fast enough to make up for ground lost to the other three boroughs over several decades. The unemployment rates in New York, Richmond, and Queens counties are each below 7.5 percent. Kings County, at 8.9 percent, has the sixth-highest rate in the state. Bronx County, now at 11.2 percent, has the highest.