Economic growth is strong in East Harlem, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Over the past 10 years, private sector employment reached a record high and the number of businesses grew by nearly 40 percent. DiNapoli released his Economic Snapshot of East Harlem at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College along with elected and community leaders.
"East Harlem has undergone robust economic growth. This growth has sparked business and job creation, and has attracted new residents to this increasingly diverse neighborhood," DiNapoli said. "These changes also bring challenges, particularly for long-term residents struggling to get by on limited means. East Harlem continues to be a center of Puerto Rican and Hispanic culture and an important part of New York City's identity."
"El Barrio/East Harlem's economy is prosperous as ever," said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "From boosting employment in local businesses to revitalizing La Marqueta, our economy continues to thrive. Comptroller DiNapoli's East Harlem Economic Snapshot presents a comprehensive report of our community's past, present and future, which especially benefits the Puerto Rican residents. I am proud of all the work my office has completed to benefit El Barrio/East Harlem's economy, and therefore shaped our cultural identity."
"East Harlem is an economic engine and cultural mecca in its own right, but a neighborhood with tremendous unmet needs as well," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I thank Comptroller DiNapoli for shining a light on the whole picture of East Harlem – not just the business and job growth, but the health and financial struggles of residents as well. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that growth in East Harlem is smart, and it delivers real benefits for the neighborhood's committed, long-term residents."
"This report shows that the hard work of the people of East Harlem / El Barrio have yielded positive economic trends and job growth in our community," said State Sen. José Serrano. "While we can be encouraged by the findings in this report, there is still much more work to be done for the working poor and immigrant families that make up this historic neighborhood. Affordable housing, quality education, and access to better jobs will remain the foundation for any sustained economic growth in our community. I sincerely thank New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for his hard work in creating this important report."
"The economic growth evidenced in Comptroller DiNapoli's report is cause for celebration and I am thrilled to see that East Harlem's small businesses are succeeding," said State Sen. Brian Benjamin. "Strong local businesses allow New Yorkers to work in their communities, shop in their communities, and stay in their communities–they are an integral part of the fabric of a neighborhood and defending them is one of my top priorities. We have to make sure that the progress we are seeing in East Harlem and elsewhere in our city is shared with everyone in the community. Thank you so much to Comptroller DiNapoli and his team for assembling this report, which will be vital tool as we continue to fight for economic justice in East Harlem."
"This economic snapshot of East Harlem reveals that our community is bustling with new opportunity. Job growth is up and new businesses are finding their home in El Barrio," said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez. "While this report shows that we are doing better, there are still disparities that the State and City need to address, such as preserving affordable housing, combating substance abuse and improving public health. I thank Comptroller DiNapoli for providing this important research that will help us better serve the people of East Harlem."
"After serving this district as a councilmanic aide and now as a Council Member, I look forward to seeing East Harlem's economy flourish even greater," said Council Member-Elect Diana Ayala. "Thanks to Comptroller DiNapoli's East Harlem Economic Snapshot, we now see the great success East Harlem has undergone. I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership and guidance, and I thank Comptroller DiNapoli for this report."
"Community Board 11 would like to thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his East Harlem Economic Snapshot report, which is a testimony to the entrepreneurial and MWBE spirit of East Harlem residents and business community," said Diane Collier, chair of Manhattan's Community Board 11. "East Harlem's entrepreneurial spirit enables us to look past the issues and come up with ideas to do something about them. There are notable, community-based initiatives, like the East Harlem Talent Network, East Harlem Community Alliance and the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, that are helping our community and small businesses and providing employment opportunities. East Harlem's continued partnership with Comptroller DiNapoli, coupled with our community's enterprising culture, will build upon our accomplishments and help us address areas that need improvement."
"This report confirms the two realities that we see in East Harlem every day – increasing economic activity, but also many low-income families struggling to get by," said David Nocenti, the Executive Director of Union Settlement, the oldest and largest social services provider in East Harlem. "The challenge is to help ensure that the residents of East Harlem are able to benefit from the economic growth that is occurring, rather than getting squeezed out by rising prices and rents. I want to commend Comptroller DiNapoli for putting out this comprehensive report, which provides vital information about the trends that are occurring in this neighborhood."
"We applaud State Comptroller DiNapoli for shining light on this important issue of economic opportunity for all residents of East Harlem," said Phil Weinberg, president & CEO of STRIVE, a leading workforce development agency based in East Harlem. "Through efforts like the East Harlem Talent Network, local employers and community-based organizations have come together in an unprecedented way to build new pipelines of opportunity that connect local talent with local jobs. These types of cross-sector partnerships are needed now more than ever."
Strong business growth has created jobs and fueled the local economy. Private sector employment reached a record 39,980 jobs in 2016, one-third more than 10 years earlier, driven by job gains in the health care and education sectors. The number of businesses jumped by 37 percent between 2006 and 2016, faster than the city growth of 19 percent. Much of the business expansion occurred in the years following the Great Recession. Despite the increase, 14 percent of the storefronts were vacant in 2015.
In total, there were 1,750 businesses in East Harlem in 2016. The concentration of large medical facilities, including Mount Sinai Hospital, makes health care the largest employer.
The demographic make up of East Harlem, like many neighborhoods in New York City, is changing. The population of the neighborhood has increased by 14 percent since 2010 to reach an estimated 134,300 residents in 2016. It has one of the largest Puerto Rican communities in the city. About half of the population (44 percent) identifies as Hispanic and nearly one-third identifies as African-American. The neighborhood is becoming more diverse as other ethnic groups move into the area.
Even with significant economic growth, many residents struggle with poverty and a lack of affordable housing. The median household income was $34,400 in 2016, the seventh-lowest among the city's 55 Census-defined neighborhoods and much lower than the citywide median of $58,900. The median income of households headed by a senior citizen was $18,400. Almost one-third of all households had incomes below the federal poverty level and nearly half of the children lived in poverty.
Major findings in the report include:
- Business sales have grown by 48 percent since the end of the recession, reaching $301 million in 2015.
- Health care, education and social assistance accounted for 71 percent of the private sector jobs in the neighborhood in 2016.
- More than two-thirds of the businesses had fewer than five employees and more than three-quarters had fewer than 10 employees. While only 2 percent of the businesses employed 100 or more workers, they accounted for 68 percent of the jobs in the area.
- The private sector average salary ($71,700) grew faster in East Harlem (51 percent) than in the city (16 percent) during the past 10 years.
- While most residents (81 percent) worked in Manhattan, only 6 percent worked in East Harlem.
- Unemployment declined from the recessionary peak of 16.2 percent to 7.3 percent in 2016.
- Median rent is the lowest among the city's 55 neighborhoods, but housing costs are a serious problem given low household incomes.
- Public housing accounts for more than one-third of the neighborhood's rental apartments.
- Crime has declined but remains a major neighborhood concern. Major felony crimes declined by nearly one-quarter between 2000 and 2016, and violent crime fell by nearly one-third.
- Residents struggle with a number of serious health conditions. According to the city's Department of Health, East Harlem residents ranked first for psychiatric hospitalizations and second for drug-related hospitalizations of the city's 59 community districts.
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