Brooklyn may not seem to be such a large part of New York City when it comes to finance and the economy, especially with Wall Street just across the East River. However, the downtown borough has managed to rise above the economic woes that struck the city and the country, increasing its employment ratings, and improving its wage standards for all workers. Brooklyn has grown to become an example for many other cities in the United States.
Employment and salary standards in Brooklyn’s private sector have outperformed the rest of the city between 2003 and 2010. The New York State Comptroller’s office said that the data they gathered suggests that salary averages in downtown Brooklyn increased by as much as 48 percent within the said time. Over those same several years, wages in other boroughs of New York only grew by 38 percent.
Many business sectors in downtown Brooklyn experienced improvements and growth despite the economic meltdown that shook the United States between 2007 and 2008. The construction of new hotels, bars, restaurants, and a myriad of cultural organizations has contributed to the 54 percent job increase in the leisure and hospitality sector.
The health care and social service industries have also seen huge growth in terms of employment. According to the New York State Comptroller’s office, the healthcare and social assistance sector accounted for about one-third of the total 77,260 jobs in downtown Brooklyn. In the Education sector, employment increased by 25 percent, making up 11 percent of the total number of jobs in the Brooklyn sector.
Downtown Brooklyn’s median household income also saw growth, increasing by as much as 40 percent between 2005 and 2010. Currently, the average median household income is rated at $71,790 a year, almost $30,000 higher when compared to other Brooklyn areas.
Although Wall Street is New York’s financial capital, Brooklyn is where several financial giants like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are anchored. Though the financial sector was critically hit during the recent economic crisis and sent many financial companies to resort to job cuts, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that the losses were offset by the gains made by other sectors of the economy, specifically the cultural sector. Cultural organizations did not suffer any job losses during the recession.
“Don’t view investments in arts and culture as simply aesthetic, or for quality of life,” he said. “It is also an economic investment.”
The Brooklyn Academy of Music, or BAM, has also made a great contribution in strengthening downtown Brooklyn’s economy. BAM, although a leading entity in Brooklyn’s culture and arts scene, has initiated efforts to provide assistance to smaller cultural associations by providing them with low-cost leasing in BAM-owned buildings.
“BAM is a dominant arts and culture institution, but they don’t elbow out other organizations,” DiNapoli said.
Brooklyn’s success in weathering through the economic storm is ultimately the product of the collaboration between public and private sectors, coupled with the borough’s natural advantages, including historic neighborhoods, riverside properties, and almost a dozen higher educational establishments.