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DISTRICT PROFILE
New York City

Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island

Tables of selected demographics »

After growing at a near-record pace in the late-1990s—led by a boom on Wall Street, rapid growth in a variety of service industries, and a strong influx of immigrants—New York City's economy slipped into a recession in early 2001. This downturn was exacerbated by the 2001 terrorist attack and a particularly sharp contraction in the city’s key financial sector. After bottoming out in mid-2003, employment expanded gradually in 2004 and then grew at a brisk pace from 2005 through mid-2007.

The city sustained far steeper job losses than the nation in the last economic downturn—7.2 percent, versus 2.4 percent nationally—reflecting not only the 2001 terrorist attack but also a slump in the city's key financial services industry. Since 2006, however, the city has surpassed both the nation and the rest of the region in job growth. Manhattan, in particular, led the city in job and income growth during the 1990s boom but then experienced far steeper declines in employment and earnings than the outer boroughs during the downturn; since 2004, Manhattan has once again outpaced the city, the region and the nation in both job creation and wage and salary earnings growth.

Manhattan (New York County)

As of 2005, Manhattan is home to an estimated 1.61 million people, or nearly a fifth of the city's 8 million residents, but accounts for 2.4 million jobs, or two-thirds of city employment. With nearly 67,000 residents per square mile, Manhattan is the most densely populated county in the United States. During the 1990s, its population grew by 3.3 percent—substantially less rapidly than the other four boroughs and below the statewide average. Manhattan has an above-average representation of minority groups: 17 percent of residents are black (compared with 12 percent nationally), 27 percent are Hispanic (also 12 percent nationally) and 9 percent are Asian (versus 4 percent for the United States).

More than 85 percent of working residents commuted within Manhattan in 2000, according to the latest Census, and about half of the remaining 15 percent worked in the outer boroughs. As noted earlier, Manhattan's industry base is dominated by services—or more aptly termed, "information" industries—especially financial services, which accounts for roughly 17 percent of private-sector jobs and close to 40 percent of earnings. It is also a major center of a variety of service industries, such as publishing, communications (media), advertising and legal services. Manufacturing represents a small and dwindling sector, accounting for just 2 percent of private-sector jobs and less than 1.5 percent of earnings. However, the city still retains a relatively large apparel (garment) industry, where the share of employment and earnings are both well above the national average.

In 2005, Manhattan's median household income was estimated at roughly $56,000—moderately above the national and New York State averages and relatively high for an urban center. (Also, average household size is quite low in Manhattan, so per capita income is actually quite a bit above the national average.) In terms of educational attainment, an extraordinary 57 percent of adults 25 or over held a college degree in 2005, more than double the national average and up sharply from 49 percent in 2000. At the other end of the spectrum, 15 percent of adults 25 or over did not complete high school, which is on par with the state and national averages.

More than 85 percent of working residents commute within Manhattan, according to the 2000 Census, and about half of the remaining 15 percent work in the outer boroughs. As noted earlier, Manhattan's industry base is dominated by services—or more aptly termed, "information" industries—especially financial services, which accounts for roughly 17 percent of private-sector jobs and close to 40 percent of earnings. It is also a major center of a variety of service industries, such as publishing, communications (media), advertising and legal services. Manufacturing is not much of a force, accounting for just 3.5 percent of jobs and less than 2 percent of earnings. However, the city still retains a fairly large apparel (garment) industry, where the share of employment and earnings are both well above the national average.

The "Outer Boroughs"

New York City's "outer boroughs"—Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island—are home to nearly 6.5 million residents and an estimated 1.2 million jobs. Based on commuting patterns—30 percent to 40 percent of working residents commute to Manhattan—these boroughs are typically thought of as bedroom communities. Despite the geographical proximity to the major employment hub, residents of each of these four boroughs experience longer commute times, on average, than residents of any other county in the United States. Nevertheless, all four have some industry base, with areas of specialization described in the respective boroughs' sections below. In fact, as many residents of Nassau and Suffolk Counties work in Queens and Brooklyn as in Manhattan. Another notable aspect of the “outer boroughs” is an exceptionally high concentration of foreign-born residents, which accounted for 39 percent of the population in 2005, compared with 12 percent nationally.

Brooklyn (Kings County)

Brooklyn is the most populous of the five boroughs—home to an estimated 2.5 million people in 2005. With nearly 35,000 residents per square mile, it is the second most densely populated borough (after Manhattan), and likewise, the second densest county in the United States. If the five boroughs were separate cities, Brooklyn would be the nation's third most populous. During the 1990s, its population grew by 7.2 percent—a bit less rapidly than the city as a whole but above the statewide average.

Brooklyn has a fairly typical urban demographic profile, with an above-average representation of minority groups: 36 percent of the population is black, including a sizable West Indian population. One in five residents is Hispanic and 7.5 percent are Asian, including a large Chinese community. In the past decade, Brooklyn's growth has been fueled by immigration, especially from the former Soviet Union and the Caribbean.

Only one in four housing units are owner-occupied, well below the U.S. average but in line with other major urban centers. Similarly, well over half of residents live in traditional apartment buildings (with five or more units), and another 35 percent are in two- to four-family homes. Most of the single-family houses—and likewise most of the owner-occupied units—are in the parts of the borough farthest from Manhattan.

In 2005, Brooklyn's median household income was roughly $37,000—about 20 percent below the U.S. average and 25 percent below the New York State average but, again, comparable to other urban centers. In terms of educational attainment, nearly one in three adults over the age of 25 hold college degrees, compared with 27 percent nationally.

Nearly 40 percent of working residents commuted to Manhattan, according to the 2000 Census. Still, Brooklyn does have a substantial industry base of its own—for example, substantially more people commuted from Long Island to Brooklyn than vice versa. Brooklyn's most important sector is health care, which represents 26 percent of jobs and 28 percent of earnings. In addition, a number of major Manhattan firms (especially in financial services), as well as government agencies, house some of their back-office operations at Metrotech Center—a multi-use complex of high-tech commercial buildings in downtown Brooklyn. Local government is also a major employer, led by the Board of Education's administrative headquarters. Manufacturing is somewhat important, accounting for 6 percent of jobs—well below the nationwide average, but slightly above the statewide average and well above the citywide figure.

Queens

Queens is the second most populous of the five boroughs, with 2.2 million residents. It is only slightly behind Brooklyn in terms of population, but it is much less densely populated, with roughly 20,000 people per square mile. During the 1990s, its population surged by 14.2 percent, making it the second fastest growing county in the state. Queens has an unusual demographic profile, even by New York's standards. Blacks account for 20 percent of the population-higher than the U.S. average, but low for a major urban area. On the other hand, a striking 18 percent of residents are Asian—triple the national and statewide averages—and 25 percent are Hispanic. As of 2005, 47 percent of Queens residents were foreign-born, which is the second highest proportion of any county in the United States.

While a majority of residents live in multi-family structures, a sizable proportion (30 percent) live in single-family homes; moreover, another 25 percent live in two- to four-family houses, as opposed to traditional apartment buildings. Similarly, there is a fairly even mix of owner-occupied homes, concentrated in the eastern tier of the borough, and rental units, mainly closer to Manhattan.

In 2005, Queens' median household income was roughly $48,000—in line with the United States and New York State averages but quite high for an urban county. In terms of educational attainment, 28 percent of adults 25 or over hold college degrees, again close to the national average.

As in Brooklyn, nearly 40 percent of working residents commuted to Manhattan in 2000. Its economy is also closely linked with that of neighboring Nassau and Suffolk Counties (Long Island). Queens also has a substantial industry base, dominated by its two major airports—John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia. Overall, air transportation and support services account for a sizable 10 percent of earnings generated in the borough, compared with slightly over 1 percent nationally.

Health care also represents a relatively important local industry, representing 17 percent of earnings. Finally, banks and other financial intermediaries have a notable presence in Queens. As in Brooklyn, manufacturing is moderately important, accounting for 7 percent of both jobs and income.

Bronx

The Bronx is the second least populous of the five boroughs, with 1.3 million residents. It is only slightly smaller than Manhattan in terms of population, and only a little more than half as populous as Brooklyn or Queens. Its population density is comparable to Brooklyn's, though. During the 1990s, its population grew by an impressive 10.3 percent, its strongest growth since the 1920s. In contrast, during the 1970s, its population fell by more than 20 percent.

Hispanics account for a remarkable 48 percent of the borough's population—the highest concentration of any county in the northeastern United States. Blacks account for 35 percent of the population—comparable to Brooklyn but a larger proportion than the other boroughs.

Less than 20 percent of residents own their homes—one of the lowest homeownership rates in the country—and a large majority of residents (90 percent) live in multi-family structures. In general, single-family and owner-occupied units are concentrated in the northern (Riverdale, Eastchester) and southeastern (Throgs Neck) parts of the borough, while the southern, western and central parts of the borough predominantly consist of multi-family rentals. The notable exception is Co-Op City, on the eastern edge of the Bronx, which is dominated by large apartment buildings.

In 2005, the Bronx had a median household income of just $29,000—the lowest of any borough and well below the statewide and national averages. In terms of educational attainment, only 16 percent of adults 25 or over hold college degrees, again well below the U.S. average, but up from 15 percent in the 2000 Census and 12 percent in 1990.

Health care is by far the dominant industry, accounting for roughly 37 percent of private-sector employment and 40 percent of earnings. In 2000, an estimated 40 percent of its work force commuted to jobs in Manhattan—slightly higher than for the other boroughs.

Staten Island (Richmond County)

Staten Island is, by far, the least populous of the five boroughs, with just 455,000 [444,000] residents, but also the most affluent. It is much less densely populated than the others, with just 7,588 residents per square mile. During the 1990s, its population surged by 17.1 percent, making it the fastest growing county in the state.

Staten Island's demographic profile is more similar to the nation's than the rest of the city's. Blacks account for 10 percent of the population, slightly below the U.S. average, while Hispanics account for 12 percent —roughly on par with the United States. Asians account for 6 percent of the population, above the national rate but low for the New York City area.

Most residents live in single-family structures, and the homeownership rate is 64 percent, again close to the national average. In 2005, median household income was roughly $63,000-far higher than in any other borough (including Manhattan), well above the U.S. and New York State averages, and extraordinarily high for an urban center. In terms of educational attainment, 27 percent of adults 25 or over hold college degrees—up from 23 percent in 2000 and on par with the national average.

Roughly 30 percent of working residents commuted to Manhattan in 2000—a lower proportion than for the other boroughs. However, 16 percent commuted to Brooklyn, which is more accessible by bus or car. Staten Island does not have as large an industry base as the other boroughs, but again, health care is a relatively important sector, accounting for a third of jobs and 40 percent of income.

 
 

 
     
New York City: selected demographics  
 


 
2000 Population
% Change from 1990
RESidents per Sq. Mile
%Jobs per Resident
Median Household Income
 
 
NYC
8,008,278
9.4
26430
41
$38,293
 
 
Manhattan
1,537,195
3.3
66940
155
$47,030
 
 
Bronx
1,332,650
10.7
31709
16
$27,611
 
 
Brooklyn
2,465,326
7.2
34917
18
$32,135
 
 
Queens
2,229,379
14.2
20409
22
$42,439
 
 
Staten Island
443,728
17.1
7588
20
$55,039
 
 
U.S.
281,421,906
13.1
80
47
$41,994
 

             
 
% Black
% Hispanic
% Asian
% (adults) College Grads
% (adults) HS Grads
 
 
NYC
26.6
27.0
9.8
27.4
72.3
 
 
Manhattan
17.4
27.2
9.4
49.4
78.7
 
 
Bronx
35.6
48.4
3.0
14.6
62.3
 
 
Brooklyn
36.4
19.8
7.5
21.8
68.8
 
 
Queens
20.0
25.0
17.6
24.3
74.4
 
 
Staten Island
9.7
12.1
5.7
23.2
82.6
 
 
U.S.
12.3
15.1
3.6
24.4
80.4
 
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July 2007