Comptroller found rapid economic growth
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Sunset Park elected officials and business leaders are busy digesting a comprehensive, eye-opening report on the community’s economy issued by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, which offered much to celebrate but also pointed to potential problems stemming from rapid growth.
DiNapoli released his report, called “An Economic Snapshot of the Greater Sunset Park Area,” at the Brooklyn Army Terminal on Wednesday.
Dinapoli found rapid economic growth in the community, both in terms of the number of jobs and businesses opening up, as well as the wages being paid to workers.
The community is “undergoing an economic revival,” DiNapoli declared.
“People want to live and raise families here, manufacturers and other businesses want to open and hire here,” the comptroller said in a statement.
DiNapoli warned, however, that “as we’ve seen in neighborhoods across the city, growth brings new challenges.”
Those challenges include affordable housing and adequate classrooms and parkland.
“This report also contains a call to action. We must redouble our efforts to connect local residents to the benefits of economic growth,” Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) said.
But overall, the report painted a positive picture of Sunset Park, which has experienced an explosion of growth in recent years.
Over the course of 2014 and 2015, private sector employment in Sunset Park soared by 9.9 percent, much faster than the citywide rate of 7.2 percent, DiNapoli found. More than 11 percent of the neighborhood’s jobs are in manufacturing, representing the highest concentration of manufacturing jobs of any neighborhood in the city.
The number of businesses in Sunset Park increased by 56 percent between 2000 and 2014, four times faster than the citywide rate, the comptroller discovered.
The economic growth has been helped in no small measure by the presence of Industry City, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Liberty View Industrial Plaza, all of which host a diverse range of businesses.
The average salary in Sunset Park was $46,460 in 2015, higher than the overall borough average of $41,180. The average salary has grown 38 percent since 2004, nearly twice as fast as in Brooklyn overall, DiNapoli said.
When he looked deeply into Sunset Park, DiNapoli found that since 1990, the community’s population has increased by one-third, to 152,700 people. The neighborhood has grown twice as fast as the city’s overall population.
Immigrants accounted for nearly all of the growth and now make up almost half of the population of Sunset Park, DiNapoli found.
“The challenges of displacement, school crowding and access to public services are critical topics in a community that is now 40 percent immigrant, 25 percent under 19 years old and facing an emergency housing shortage,” Menchaca said.
“The growth of the local economy and jobs holds the promise of a better future and greater opportunities for our residents. The challenge is to ensure that the jobs and benefits of a thriving economy reach all residents and sectors of the Sunset Park community,” Community Board Seven District Manage Jeremy Laufer said.
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan) pointed to Sunset Park’s diversity as one of its greatest strengths. “Sunset Park’s diversity and the commitment of its workers are some of its greatest strengths and these characteristics are fueling an economic revitalization. In a burgeoning, multi-ethnic, immigrant neighborhood, there are a range of challenges,” she said.
“For decades, Sunset Park has been home to working families raising their children and entrepreneurs building business from the ground up,” said Maria Torres-Springer, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “Today, Sunset Park is also an anchor for our city’s revitalized industrial and manufacturing sectors, creating thousands of strong jobs and pathways to the middle class.”
Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, described Sunset Park as “without question one of the best neighborhoods in New York state,” and added that the neighborhood “keeps getting better.”
Here are other findings in the DiNapoli report:
Total wages for all private sector jobs in the Greater Sunset Park area grew by 67 percent between 2004 and 2015 to $1.9 billion, a faster growth rate than in Brooklyn overall (64 percent).
Health care is the largest employment sector in Sunset Park, accounting for one quarter of the jobs.
One quarter of the population is under age 19.
Hispanic and Latino residents (both U.S.-born and immigrants) made up the largest segment of the area’s population (40 percent).
More than one quarter (29 percent) of the area’s immigrants have been in the country for 10 years or less.
Asian residents have been the fastest growing segment of the population since 1990, increasing by 241 percent.
To read the full report, visit http://www.osc.state.ny.us/osdc/rpt5-2017.pdf.