New York City has had an astonishing recovery from the Great Recession, generating 423,000 new jobs between 2009 and 2014. At the same time, it emerged with a full-blown creative economy—but not without fostering a considerable class divide.
These changes and their repercussions have been captured by Richard Florida, Steven Pedigo, Rosemary Scanlon, and Hugh Kelly at the NYU School of Professional Studies in a new report and have also been featured in Florida’s CityLab article. Using EMSI data and other sources, this team of researchers has traced NYC’s industrial and occupational clusters, changing real estate patterns, and evolving class structure to produce a rich analysis of NYC’s economy.
So what does NYC’s new economy look like? What occupations are growing? Who are the winners and losers in NYC’s recovery story? And how have the five boroughs faired?
New York City’s Key Occupations
In order to get to know NYC’s economy better, understand how it has evolved, and see where it has a competitive advantage, let’s take a look at the study’s occupational analysis.
In this chart, the clusters with the biggest bubbles have the most jobs. The x-axis represents employment growth from 2009-2014, and the y-axis represents the location quotient, or the concentration of occupations in NYC relative to the nation.
In the upper righthand corner, the arts, design, entertainment, and media cluster shows strong concentration and growth—even though other clusters (such as health care or business and finance) have more jobs. For this reason, Florida pinpoints arts, design, entertainment, and media occupations as New York City’s “biggest advantage.”
Of course, the city also has a large concentration of legal occupations as well as occupations in management, education, and business and finance. But these clusters are not seeing as strong a combination of growth and concentration—despite the fact that, just a mere decade ago, the city was famous for many of these jobs. Similarly, office and administrative support is a humungous cluster, but its growth and concentration is minimal.
Florida’s article also includes a note on startups and tech, which are not directly depicted in the chart:
Hundreds of startups have launched since 2007, and the city attracts roughly $3 billion in venture capital investment per year. It has the largest number of tech jobs in the nation, according to data from EMSI, and was recently named the world’s leading startup ecosystem.
The Three Classes: Creative, Service, and Working
To understand broader trends in NYC’s emerging creative economy, take a look at NYU’s analysis of the city’s three classes of workers: the strengthening creative class and the “sagging” service and working classes.
NYC’s creative class is huge. But it is also broadly defined, spanning jobs in science; engineering; art, design, media, and entertainment; business and finance; and law. Made up of 1.4 million jobs, the creative class is 35.4% of the city’s workforce (28% more than the national average as a share of all jobs).
While the creative class is important to the economies in each of the five boroughs, it is most significant in Manhattan. Manhattan’s creative class makes up a 39% share of the workforce—more than a third of its economy. Additionally, Manhattan’s creative class is paid considerably more than similar workers in the other boroughs.
Overall, the creative class generates $117 billion in wages—more than half (52%) of the city’s total. So the good news is that NYC has a very diverse and talented workforce, and it is growing its number of high-wage, high-skill jobs. But clearly there is imbalance in the city’s economy. If 35.4% of the city’s workforce is generating more than half of the city’s wages, then the other classes must not be earning much.
The service sector earns about half of what the creative class makes and 31% below NYC’s median.
In fact, NYU’s report describes the service class (the city’s largest of the three classes) as experiencing a separate economic narrative from the recovery of the creative class: “Though the city’s economy is growing, its industrial and occupational clusters tell two stories: of creativity-fueled growth for the talented third of the city’s workers who belong to the creative class, and of economic stasis, malaise, and struggle for the many more workers who work in the service sector.”
Service jobs include office and administrative support, protective services (such as security guards), personal care occupations, and healthcare support, among others.
The service sector makes up a somewhat larger share of the workforce in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan, and it is quickly growing, especially in Brooklyn where the wages are lowest. It comprises 53% of the workforce in Staten Island, 50% in the Bronx, 51% in Brooklyn, and 52% in Queens—compared to 48% in Manhattan.
The city’s blue-collar working class (made up of jobs in manufacturing, transportation, construction, and building and grounds maintenance and cleaning) has been devastated by postindustrialism. This class has declined by half since 1970; now, it accounts for just 16% of the city’s workforce (compared to about 22% of the nation’s)—an unfortunate trend since these workers earn substantially more than the service class.
But the blue-collar working class is still relatively strong in Queens (where it makes up 26% of the workforce) and Staten Island (21% of the workforce). Interestingly enough, blue-collar workers earn more in Staten Island than in Manhattan—the only class where a higher wage can be earned in an outer borough.