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June 29, 2006

 

Hevesi Report: Flushing Anchors Queens Economic Growth


Employment, wages, and population have grown rapidly in Flushing, Queens—outpacing Citywide employment and wage growth in 2004, the last year for which annual data is available—according to a report on Flushing’s economy issued today by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi. In addition, home values in Flushing have surged and public and private entities have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the neighborhood in recent years.

Flushing’s economic growth has been shaped in part by a surge in population. Between 1990 and 2000, Flushing’s total population grew by 13.5 percent—a pace that exceeded the Citywide growth rate (9.4 percent). This growth was supported by strong immigration. In 2000, more than half of Flushing’s population (58.5 percent) was foreign-born—well above the City and Queens’ average. Nearly one quarter of these immigrants entered the country after 1995.

“Flushing has a rich history of tolerance and diversity,” Hevesi said at a breakfast today sponsored by the Flushing Development Center. “This has helped the community evolve into an international destination as immigrants and regional and international businesses capitalize on Flushing’s tremendous assets, including an excellent transportation network, growing financial firms, and proximity to regional attractions.”

The report found that:

  • Employment in Flushing grew by 4.4 percent between 2003 and 2004 (the most recent period for which annual data is available), outpacing the Citywide growth rate of 0.5 percent.
  • Total wages paid in Flushing also grew at a slightly faster rate than in the City as a whole, increasing by 8 percent in 2004.
  • Average salaries in Flushing increased annually throughout the recession of the early 2000s (a feat not matched Citywide) and rose by 10.4 percent between 2000 and 2004, reaching $35,264 in 2004.
  • The finance and insurance sector, which accounted for only 4 percent of jobs in Flushing (1,270 jobs), is the area’s fastest growing major economic sector and expanded by 11.7 percent between 2003 and 2004.
  • As of November 2005, the neighborhood’s financial institutions, including four banks headquartered in Downtown Flushing, held more than $3.7 trillion in institutional assets.
  • While area residents hail from over 86 countries, Asians accounted for almost half of Flushing’s population (44.4 percent) in 2000. Flushing has the largest Chinese community in New York City (as measured by total population), having surpassed Manhattan’s Chinatown several years ago.

“The Comptroller's report confirms what we have known for years; Flushing is booming.” said Fred Fu, President, Flushing Development Center. “Recent growth has been supported by a variety of factors, including the new energy provided by Flushing’s immigrant population; the vision of local developers; and the efforts of our local, City, and State elected officials, who are working together to build a better community. We thank the Comptroller for coming here today to report on the Flushing economy and to witness first-hand the tremendous growth we have experienced.”

“Flushing is a critically important part of the Queens’ economy and the City economy overall,” Hevesi said. “In 2004, Flushing businesses provided nearly 34,000 jobs and generated almost $1.2 billion in annual wages. While this is the most recent annual data available for Flushing, the pace of economic growth for the City as a whole accelerated in 2005 and 2006 and evidence suggests that Flushing has benefited from this continued resurgence.”

As economic growth has occurred, housing values in Flushing have increased. In 2005, the median value for all owner occupied residences in Community Board 7, which includes Flushing, was $450,000—a 50 percent increase from 2002—and higher than the median value of $400,000 for both the borough and the City. While this has resulted in additional equity for homeowners, the need for affordable housing has increased. The report noted that Flushing has the highest median monthly rents in the borough ($1,000), which is equal to the median rent in Manhattan.

“As Flushing continues to grow, serious issues remain that need to be addressed, including affordable housing, an aging transportation network, and traffic congestion,” Hevesi said. “However, recent City and private sector investments have positioned the neighborhood well for the future.”

Other notable findings include:

  • Flushing’s largest employment sector is health care and social assistance, which accounted for one third of the neighborhood’s jobs and more than 40 percent of wages paid in 2004.
  • Employment in this sector grew by 825 jobs between 2003 and 2004 (7.7 percent), which represents more than half of the net job gain in the neighborhood that year.
  • Retail trade is the second largest employment sector in the neighborhood and accounted for nearly 14 percent of area jobs.
  • The accommodation and food services sector—which accounts for more than 8 percent of area jobs—expanded every year between 2000 and 2004, with the pace of growth in 2004 rising to nearly 8 percent.
  • While wages in Flushing have increased, the neighborhood’s average salary remained below the overall average salary in Queens ($39,835) and recent growth has not kept pace with inflation.
    Permits for new housing construction in Community Board 7 increased tenfold between 1996 and 2003 (the most recent year for which data is available).
  • Flushing is a major intermodal transportation node—more than 50,000 commuters transfer between the Long Island Rail Road, the Main Street subway line, and public and private buses each day. In addition, Flushing is near regional attractions such as Shea Stadium, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Tennis Center, and LaGuardia Airport, and is connected to the Long Island and Whitestone expressways and the Grand Central Parkway.

The Flushing report follows a larger report on the overall Queens economy issued by Hevesi earlier in the month. That report noted that the unemployment rate in Queens fell to 5.2 percent in 2005—the lowest level in 15 years—and that property values grew by 161 percent between 2000 and 2006.

Click here for a copy of the report.


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