Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce study offers glowing picture of business climate

BCC’s annual report looks at economic issues, population trends

January 16, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BCC President and CEO Andrew Hoan says the biggest job growth in Brooklyn was found in the health care, tourism and entertainment industries. Hoan is pictured with U.S. Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Carolyn Maloney, and BCC Board Chairperson Denise Arbesu (left to right) at an event last year. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Brooklyn is booming!

That’s the assessment of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (BCC), which recently issued a report looking at the borough’s economic climate.

The 43-page report “Economic Assessment of the Brooklyn Economy” looked at job sectors, unemployment rates, commercial trends, population shifts and other issues.

The study found that, percentage wise, the rate of job growth in Brooklyn surpassed the other four boroughs in 2016.

And the job sectors producing the fastest growth appear to be rapidly changing. The new report found that the areas of health care, tourism and entertainment industries currently have the fastest rate of job growth, as compared to 2015, when the most significant growth was found in the information industry.

The recent change in Brooklyn’s job growth picture “reflects changes in the dynamics of the borough,” BCC President and CEO Andrew Hoan told the Brooklyn Eagle in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Every industry is growing,” said Hoan, who added than some are growing faster than others.

The job growth in the tourism and hospitality industries is particularly exciting, according to Hoan, who said that many of the jobs do not require advanced degrees, yet provide upward mobility for workers.

“Most of these jobs pay middle class wages,” Hoan told the Eagle. And just as significant, the jobs “offer career pathways” for workers, he said.

The comprehensive report was commissioned by Hoan and Denise Arbesu, chairwoman of BCC’s board of directors.

The highlights of the study include:

  • In 2016, Brooklyn experienced a net growth of more than 26,000 jobs in the private sector, surpassing the rate of job growth in the rest of the city.

  • Brooklyn’s current unemployment rate, 4.9 percent, is the lowest it has been in a generation.

  • Local retail jobs account for more than half of the new jobs.

  • If the current rate of job growth continues, Brooklyn could add over 150,000 new private sector jobs by the year 2022.

  • The borough has seen a population boom among senior citizens in recent years. The annual growth rate has nearly quadrupled since 2011. That’s significant because senior citizens have a combined $8.9 billion in purchasing power.

  • Home sharing has become a large part of Brooklyn’s economy, providing residents with another form of income and increasing tourism to the borough’s neighborhood. As an example, the report points out that 57 percent of the money spent by visitors was spent in the neighborhood they stayed in. Bedford-Stuyvesant saw $14.5 million spent locally.

Hoan said BCC has done an economic assessment report for the past three years as a way of taking Brooklyn’s economic temperature. He likened the report to a snapshot of the borough.

“As a borough economic development leader, it is our pleasure to do an analysis of the borough’s economy,” Hoan said.

The report could serve as a valuable resource to elected officials at the city, state and federal levels when they seek to enact legislation, Hoan said.

The fact that Brooklyn is home to increasing numbers of senior citizens could turn out to be an important economic factor, Hoan said. He hopes the report can serve as a message to business owners in neighborhoods all over Brooklyn to start paying attention to older adults and the purchasing power they possess.

“Seniors are loyal customers. They spent locally. And guess what? They’ve got money!” Hoan said.

But the report also took a look at potential problem areas.

“While our growth has been positive, we need to be cognizant of the disparities still challenging the borough. Given the tremendous job creation and expansion of vital industries, there are unique opportunities to close the wage gap, lower poverty levels, reduce inequality and improve the economic standing of neighborhoods throughout the borough,” Hoan and Arbesu said in a joint statement in the report.

Investments in infrastructure, education and workforce training are vitally needed, BCC concluded. “We should also continue to focus on crafting policies and programs that assist Brooklyn’s traditional primary employers — health care, tourism, retail and a special focus on small employers,” the report reads.

Founded in 1918, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is the largest chamber of commerce in New York state, boasting more than 2,100 members, from large corporations to small, mom and pop shops.

Headquartered at 335 Adams St. the chamber offers assistance to businesses large and small, promotes the borough nationally and internationally as a great place to do business and serves as a voice for the business community with elected officials.

To read the full economic report, visit


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