It’s like an old “good news/bad news” joke: The bad news is that unemployment is surging and wages are falling in Brooklyn.
OK, so what’s the good news?
Who said there was any good news?
So how bad is it? Consider these stats from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s just-released Labor Market Report:
• The borough lost 8,500 jobs last year, down from 444,050 to 435,550 — a two-percent decline.
• The number of unemployed Brooklynites rose from 66,000 to 109,000 — which translates to a boroughwide unemployment rate that jumped from 5.9 percent to 9.7 percent.
• Of the 115,000 jobs shed by employers in Manhattan, 25,000 once belonged to Brooklynites.
• The total amount of income earned by Brooklynites fell nearly three percent, from $83.4 billion last year to $81 billion this year. Incomes citywide dropped slightly more at 3.2 percent.
“The decline, the first in at least 40 years, demonstrat[es] the severity and depth of the current recession,” said Chamber President Carl Hum. “These are indeed very tough economic times.”
That said, there is a slightly lilting melody buried in this steady drumbeat of bad news.
The job losses in the borough — mostly in the construction and manufacturing sector — were partially offset by a gain of about 2,500 jobs in health care and social assistance. Also, our tourism sector has been strong.
“Brooklyn is like the rest of the city and nation in that there’s some jobs loss particularly in the finance, construction and manufacturing, but Brooklyn is unlike the nation and city in that we’re seeing job gains in professional services, accommodation, food services and design firms,” Hum said.
As a result, the report predicted that employment levels will remain flat in the hotel and restaurant business this year, even though that sector is experiencing a decline elsewhere.
So it’s not all bad news, apparently.
“Even though our economy continues to contract, job losses in Brooklyn continue to be at a far slower pace than the rest of the city,” said James Parrott, chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute, which prepared the Chamber report.