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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


DiNapoli: Queens Economy Takes Off

Strong Economic Growth in the Nation’s Most Diverse County

May 18, 2018

Queens has more residents than at any time in its history, a record number of jobs and businesses, and an all-time low unemployment rate, according to an economic report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“The Queens economy is booming, setting employment records in each of the past six years,” DiNapoli said. “Immigrants, who make up nearly half of the population, are an important part of the borough’s success. Under the leadership of Borough President Melinda Katz, the future looks bright.”

Queens added 110,500 private sector jobs between 2009 and 2017, 10 times more than were lost during the recession and more than twice as many as in the second-strongest expansion. Health care, leisure and hospitality, business services and retail were responsible for more than two-thirds of the new jobs. The unemployment rate fell from the recession era peak of 8.6 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2017, lower than the citywide rate and the lowest level since the data series was created in 1990.

Since 1980, the population has increased by 25 percent to a record 2.4 million, driven by a doubling in the immigrant population to 1.1 million. Immigrants made up 47 percent of the population in 2016, the second highest share of any county in the nation after Miami-Dade, Fla. Immigrants also represented more than half of the work force in Queens and made up 69 percent of the self-employed entrepreneurs.

Queens is the most racially and ethnically diverse county in the nation. While no racial or ethnic group held more than a 30 percent share of the population, four groups held double-digit shares. In 2016, Hispanics and Latinos accounted for 28 percent of the population, whites for 25 percent, Asians for 25 percent, and black or African Americans for 17 percent.

Queens is home to nearly half of New York City’s Asian-American population. Among the five boroughs, it has the largest populations of Bangladeshi, Chinese, Filipino, Indian and Korean-Americans. It also has the largest Colombian, Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Salvadoran populations in the city, in each case representing more than half of the citywide total.

The number of businesses in Queens increased by 22 percent since the end of the recession in 2009, faster than the citywide rate of 17 percent. Business sales increased by 54 percent since 2009 (faster than the citywide rate of 44 percent), reaching a record of $12.9 billion in 2016.

The borough accounted for 58 percent of all transportation jobs in the city and 96 percent of air transportation jobs. John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports together employed 49,000 people and contributed $64.4 billion in economic activity to the New York–New Jersey metropolitan region in 2017. Both airports are undergoing major upgrades, which will create thousands of new jobs.

Among the 14 Census-defined neighborhoods in Queens, private sector job growth was fastest in the Howard Beach and Ozone Park area, rising by 43 percent between 2009 and 2017. Growth was also strong in the areas of Flushing (39 percent), Jackson Heights (38 percent) and Richmond Hill (34 percent).

Queens still faces challenges, including school overcrowding, a need for more affordable housing and long commute times.

"State Comptroller DiNapoli's economic snapshot strongly underscores that Queens is hot and on the move,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “We've experienced growth in nearly every category, from population to jobs and small businesses, while our unemployment rate fell and incomes rose. Queens thanks State Comptroller DiNapoli and his team for preparing and publishing this thorough, accessible snapshot, which will help better inform policymakers and officials in shaping resource priorities toward more equitable growth.”

“Our borough’s economy has rebounded from the Great Recession, and we have hit record-breaking numbers in job creation. This is good news for the hard-working men and women who live in our borough. Still, far too many Queens families have been excluded from this recovery,” said Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “I am incredibly thankful for the millions of new business owners and immigrant families who now call Queens home, but I recognize that their economic needs are not being met by President Trump and Republicans in Congress. I will continue fighting for policies in Congress that sustain our growth, but most importantly, reward the working families who underpin our economy.”

“The State Comptroller’s report reveals how robust Queens’ economy has become, thanks in large part to our thriving immigrant community, but it also identifies areas of needed improvement,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-Queens, Long Island). “The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is still being felt to this day, especially for working families in Southeastern Queens. Rebuilding efforts, like JFKs modernization, have created jobs and improved our community’s recovery, and this report will contribute to that continued success.”

“Queens is one of the most ethnically and racially diverse places on earth and I am proud and honored to represent the vibrant and growing constituency of Northeast Queens,” said Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Queens).

“It is very encouraging to see the steady economic growth here in Queens over the last decade,” said life-long borough resident State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Ozone Park). “Our borough is full of talented and hardworking individuals from across the globe, and our inclusiveness, I believe, is one of the main factors as to why our job market is growing at near-historic rates. I look forward to the new jobs that will be created as our two airports each get a facelift and major construction projects, like the Resorts World Casino expansion, begin. I envision an even brighter future for Queens.”

“As a resident of Queens and as an elected official that represents part of the borough, I recognize the victories and challenges that face our community,” said State Senator James Sanders, Jr. (D-South Ozone Park). “While economic development and increased job growth are welcome, we still face crippling high rents, school overcrowding and transportation deficiencies. I appreciate and applaud State Comptroller DiNapoli for compiling this detailed report so that others may gain a better perspective on the state of our vibrant and culturally diverse borough. I look forward to working with the State Comptroller and my colleagues in government as well as residents and local leaders to build a better, stronger Queens.”

“I want to thank State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for his economic snapshot of Queens County. As we have been saying for years, Queens is the most ethnically diverse community in the country,” said Assemblymember Michael G. DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst). “Our immigrant population works hard, creates new business opportunities and makes Queens the most sought after place to live in NYC. I only hope the next census properly reflects the 25% increase in population so we can get the federal funding necessary to maintain the services for this great borough.”

“I would like to thank State Comptroller DiNapoli for presenting this economic snapshot of Queens,” said Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D-Western Queens). “We are enjoying a time of economic growth and prosperity in our community, and seeing the successes and expansions of our local businesses. As chair of the Assembly Education Committee I know we must focus on providing a quality education for our students, to ensure their future success.”

"When diversity and community are embraced, everyone benefits," said Assemblymember Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows). "This economic progress and growth would not be possible without the leadership of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli."

“Many thanks to State Comptroller DiNapoli for issuing this report and confirming what a great borough Queens is,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria). “As a life-long resident of Queens I can say that there is no other place in New York City that I would rather live. But as Queens grows, we cannot neglect the issues that are growing with it, such as crowded schools, dilapidated roadways and inadequate mass transportation. We must tackle these issues head on through new public investments in our great borough.”

“As Queens continues on a path of economic success, it’s important to understand both the trends driving the borough’s growth as well as the issues important to Queens’ residents and businesses,” said Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows). “I want to thank State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for his detailed report, which will surely be utilized for future planning, and look forward to using the ‘Economic Snapshot of Queens’ report as a resource in my office.”

"In Queens, the Borough of Nations, our diversity is our strength," said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). "The State Comptroller's snapshot illustrates how Queens has seen strong economic growth thanks in large part to our newest New Yorkers. I thank State Comptroller DiNapoli for releasing this report. Welcoming immigrant families is the ethical thing to do and is also in the financial interest of the borough."

“It is no surprise that Queens continues to be one of the economic engines in New York State,” said Councilmember Barry S. Grodenchik (D-Queens). “Our clean, safe neighborhoods, outstanding schools, and beautiful parks continue to attract people from around the world who, alongside longtime residents, keep the Queens economy strong. I thank State Comptroller DiNapoli for his comprehensive report.”

“The report once again proves that Queens is a golden land of opportunity, especially Flushing which has grown to become the home to approximately 9,000 mom-and-pop shops and immigrant-owned businesses over the past decades. These small businesses are the drivers of economic growth and the backbone to our local community,” said Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Flushing). “We must do everything we can to make sure that we provided the necessary resources to help this vital sector—and the families and communities who depend on and patronize these businesses—to succeed. Many thanks to State Comptroller DiNapoli for highlighting the success and challenges of Queens and I look forward to working with him to make our community stronger.”

"I applaud State Comptroller DiNapoli for issuing this detailed report on the state of Queens' economy,” said Councilmember Rory I. Lancman (D-Queens). “Our diversity is our greatest economic advantage, and we must continue to do all we can to bring more jobs and opportunities to Queens."

“Queens is proof that immigrants are assets to this country, providing a boost to the economy, entrepreneurship and job creation,” said Councilmember Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights). But, as more and more people recognize Queens as a desirable destination to start a business and raise a family, we cannot overlook the issue of overcrowding in our schools and transportation systems and the need for truly affordable housing that reflects our community.”

“It’s great to see such a positive economic snapshot for Queens,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “Diversity of all kinds throughout the borough plays such a large role in the health of this economy and I’m happy to see that recognized in Comptroller DiNapoli’s Snapshot,” said Councilmember James G. Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria and Maspeth). While it is great to see growth and prosperity in our communities, it’s imperative that we continue to fight for more schools, better access to transportation and an increase of affordable housing. We must ensure that opportunities in Queens remain open to all so that we see continued success in our business communities and record-low unemployment.”

"Immigrants make up 69% of Queens entrepreneurs, continuing the borough's legacy of cultural diversity and neighborhood businesses. Immigrant communities generate jobs, provide services, and represent a vital thread in the social and economic fabric of our New York," said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

"This report demonstrates what we have always known to be true - Queens is a place where people from all over the world come to pursue the American Dream,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of Queens Economic Development Corp (QEDC). “We need to ensure that this continues by providing a stable, welcome and safe environment that nurtures economic growth."

“Queens is the place to be, and the release of this report by State Comptroller DiNapoli is further proof of our arrival as the destination to live, work and play,” said Thomas J. Grech, president & CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“Thomas P DiNapoli is the best NYS Comptroller I have seen in the last 20 years,” said Peter Tu, executive director of Flushing Chinese Business Association. “His culture of being respectful and respectful of ethnic minorities is impressive.”

Other findings in DiNapoli’s report include:

  • As of September 30, 2017, private sector employment was on pace to reach a record 567,800 jobs in 2017.
  • The average private sector salary was $48,400 in 2016 (the latest available data), the highest among the four boroughs outside of Manhattan.
  • Median household income was $62,200 in 2016, higher than the citywide median.
  • The share of households that devoted 30 percent or more of their incomes to rent (a level at which rent is considered a burden), was 56 percent in 2016. An estimated 40 percent of senior households devoted at least half of their income to rent, a level that is considered a severe rent burden.
  • Since 2000, the number of residents age 55 and over has increased by 31 percent.
  • Queens had the lowest household poverty rate among the five boroughs (13.6 percent in 2016). The poverty rate ranged from a low of 7.8 percent in the Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck area to a high of 22.3 percent in the Elmhurst and South Corona area.
  • 44 percent of households own their own homes (including co-ops and condos), higher than the citywide share (32 percent) and second only to Staten Island.
  • Queens has the most single-family homes in the city (half of the citywide total). According to Zillow Research, the average median value for single-family homes reached $656,000 in 2017 (a new record), which was 18 percent higher than the prerecession peak.
  • A 49 percent increase in construction permits between 2011 and 2017 helped fuel a 32 percent increase in construction jobs during this period. Queens had a record 52,700 construction jobs in 2017, more than in any other borough.
  • Bayside and Astoria were on StreetEasy’s list of the “hottest neighborhoods” in New York City in 2017, while Flushing, Elmhurst and Woodside made the “neighborhoods to watch” list for 2018.
  • Elementary schools in Queens were the most overcrowded in the city during the 2016-2017 school year, operating at 116 percent of capacity.
  • The Flushing area had the most businesses of any neighborhood in Queens (9,000, or 17 percent of the borough-wide total). It also added the most businesses between 2009 and 2017 (2,000) and had the fastest growth (29 percent).
  • Five of the 10 Census-defined neighborhoods in the city with the longest commute times to work were located in Queens, with residents in the southeast section facing the longest commutes.

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