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


DiNapoli Releases Economic Report on Greater Flushing Area

Flushing Area Economy Was Booming Before Pandemic's Devastation
Signs of Strong Recovery This Year, Job Growth Outpacing Queens and NYC

December 15, 2021

Comptroller DiNapoli and elected officials held a socially distanced press conference in Flushing, NY, to discuss the report. Watch a replay of the live stream.

Flushing, and the surrounding neighborhoods that make up the greater Flushing area, enjoyed outsized employment and business growth from 2000 until Queens became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health and economic crises created by the pandemic highlighted ongoing challenges for recovery, but key positive indicators such as job recovery are reasons for optimism, according to an economic analysis released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“The COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on greater Flushing, but jobs are coming back to the area faster than the rest of New York City and that’s a positive sign for the area and for Queens,” DiNapoli said. “Many challenges remain and some, like the need for affordable housing that pre-dates the pandemic, must be addressed as part of the area’s economic recovery to ensure everyone benefits.”

DiNapoli’s economic analysis covered the greater Flushing area, which is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as including Flushing, College Point, Whitestone, Murray Hill and Auburndale. The area has a population of around 258,500 and has seen steady growth in its immigrant population. As of 2019, 55.9% of residents (134,100) were immigrants, the fourth-highest share and largest number of any New York City neighborhood.

Pre-Pandemic, Strong Business and Employment Growth

The greater Flushing area has a diverse and vibrant local economy and is a major business center outside of Manhattan. In the nearly 20 years prior to the pandemic, the area was one of the fastest growing local economies in the city, driven by small businesses with fewer than five employees. Among the pre-pandemic highlights:

  • From 2000 to 2019, total businesses grew 81.8% to 9,250, faster than Queens (44%) or NYC (29.6%). In 2019, 87.4% were microbusinesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Private sector employment grew 70.9% in the same period, double the growth in Queens (32.4%) or NYC (28.1%).
  • Jobs grew, but wages only rose 46% since 2010 — a lower rate than Queens (79.1%) and citywide (53.7%) — reaching $3.9 billion in 2019.

Pandemic Underscored Challenges

The pandemic hit Queens harder than any borough and devastated the greater Flushing economy. By the end of the second quarter (June 2020) nearly one-in-four private sector jobs were gone. This was on par with Queens overall, which had the highest rate of job loss (25.2%) in NYC. The pandemic’s impact underscored existing local challenges, most notably affordable housing, higher poverty rates and lower household incomes than the rest of Queens, as well as the needs of the area’s older adult population. Specifically:

  • The leisure and hospitality sector was hit hardest, with the highest rate of job loss for the last three quarters of 2020, compared to a year earlier. Retail trade suffered the second-largest job loss.
  • 82% of greater Flushing residents were employed in either essential or face-to-face sectors, with no option to work from home.
  • 40.7% of greater Flushing renters faced a severe rent burden in 2019 — spending half or more of income on rent, the highest share in NYC.
  • The pre-pandemic poverty rate in greater Flushing was 16.4% in 2019, an improvement over prior years, but higher than Queens’ overall rate and equal to the citywide rate.
  • 35.9% of greater Flushing’s residents are age 55 or older, the fourth-highest share among NYC neighborhoods. The median age was 45.3, higher than in Queens (39.7) and citywide (37.2). The median income for senior households was $32,100, as of 2019.

Greater Flushing Signs of Strong Recovery

Employment in greater Flushing during the pandemic has recovered faster than in many neighborhoods, and faster than Queens and the city overall. Local businesses have been aided by local, state, and federal relief programs and the enhancement of state unemployment benefits made possible through the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

  • By March 2021, jobs losses were at 8.4% compared to the 23.4% in the second quarter of 2020, a better recovery than over half the city’s 55 neighborhoods. By comparison, jobs were down by 12.5% in Queens and 14.1% citywide in early 2021.
  • Flushing area businesses received 22.4% of Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants and 29.5% of RRF grant dollars approved for Queens.
  • As of June 2021, Flushing area businesses also received 12.4% of Queens’ Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, 13% of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and 14.8% of EIDL advances. These were the highest shares of EIDL loans and advances across the boroughs.
  • As of Dec. 7, 92.8% of residents were fully vaccinated, outpacing Queens’ and NYC vaccination rates.
  • School attendance rates — 90.5% when remote learning was adopted in Spring 2020 — have remained higher than citywide numbers in 2021.

“Flushing is a bustling and vibrant community that has succeeded and thrived, and I’ve watched it flourish firsthand,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng. “But nearly two years ago, much of this growth came to a halt when the area was hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Signs of a strong recovery and job growth are encouraging, but we are not out of the woods yet. As we work to move past the pandemic, going backwards is not an option. We cannot go back to the way things were before. We must rebuild better, stronger, more equitably, and with greater resiliency than ever before. These are key to helping Flushing get back on its feet.”

"Flushing is one of Queens' strongest, most resilient and tightest-knit communities. The pandemic hit all of us hard, with Flushing being unjustly forced to deal with the corresponding scourge of anti-Asian hate, but it is no surprise that this neighborhood has been on the forefront of Queens' comeback," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. "We are deeply proud of the progress that has already been made coming out of the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, and my office will continue to do all it can to spur further growth and development befitting all Flushing families."

"This report on the greater Flushing community offers many reasons for optimism. Prior to the pandemic we were an area of vibrant economic growth, and recent indicators show that our neighborhoods are bouncing back at an encouraging rate. That is a testament to the resiliency of our community. However, there is still much to be done. We must continue to lift those who live below the poverty line, alleviate rent strain, and support struggling small businesses impacted by the pandemic. I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli for providing this critical information which will help local leadership focus our efforts and resources," said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

"This report combines sound economic data with an emerging school of thought that many of us have known for years – Flushing is an economic powerhouse for New York City. The pandemic hit our community hard, but we have already shown strong signs of recovery in the rapid rate of job growth and stimulus relief, as well as high vaccination rates. We still have a long way to go, but this report offers important insights that can help us get back on our feet. Many thanks to Comptroller DiNapoli for this analytical deep-dive of our hometown,” said Senator John C. Liu.

“Flushing is one of the most diverse communities in New York City and our residents contribute greatly not only to our local economy, but to the City’s economy overall,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “However, the past year and a half has placed a heavy burden on our community. We suffered not only from the direct health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also from severe economic impacts highlighted in this report. I thank Comptroller DiNapoli for this report and know that our community will use it to guide us as we work together towards our community’s recovery.”

“The Korean American Family Service Center applauds State Comptroller DiNapoli for releasing the Flushing report which discusses the trends and impact of COVID-19 on the greater Flushing area. Queens is home to nearly half of New York City’s Asian-American population. The release of this report is critical to KAFSC, as we can better approach and provide our programs and services to our AAPI community members that were impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, our immigrant survivors of gender-based violence and families suffered a heightened rise in gender-based violence, anti-Asian racism and discrimination. We look forward to this Flushing report so that we can provide the critical resources to address the impact of COVID-19 on the greater Flushing area as we are on the road to recovery and a healing process,” said Jeehae Fischer, Executive Director of the Korean American Family Service Center.

Additional Economic Report findings:

  • People from China are the largest immigrant group, followed by Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India.
  • Asian American and Pacific Islanders account for over half (56.5%) of residents, Whites (24.3%), Hispanics or Latinos (15.6%), Blacks or African Americans (1.7%).
  • Public school enrollment fell 3% in greater Flushing (2020-21), compared to 5% citywide.
  • Early in the pandemic, several greater Flushing’s neighborhoods had higher rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths than Queens and NYC. Rates abated as vaccinations rose.
  • Broadband is available, but a greater percentage of area residents did not have broadband access (had no home subscription) in 2019 than Queens and NYC overall.
  • Major crime rates in the 109th Precinct, which covers greater Flushing, were relatively unchanged from 2010 to 2019 after declining over 50% in the prior decade.
  • 11.7% of households were enrolled in federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, slightly lower than in Queens and 6.8 percentage points lower than NYC overall.

Recent Trends and Impact of COVID-19 in the Greater Flushing Area

Mandarin Version
COVID-19 在大法拉盛地區的最 新趨勢和影響

Korean Version
플러싱 내 코로나19의 최신 동향 및 영향

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