Report: Brooklyn’s economy has been slammed harder than Manhattan’s by the coronavirus crisis

April 1, 2020 Mary Frost
Shops along Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn are shuttered, as New York City enforces rules meant to slow down the growth of COVID-19. Photo: Mary Frost/Brooklyn Eagle
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Despite Brooklyn’s recent progress as a business incubator and tech hub, the borough’s economy is being bashed harder than Manhattan’s during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

That’s the conclusion of a report published Tuesday by the independent think tank Center for an Urban Future, which made clear that the four boroughs outside of Manhattan are suffering the greatest employment setbacks as the crisis unfolds.

The reason for the disparity can be traced to the types of industries most impacted by the closures put in place to contain the virus causing COVID-19.

Restaurants, retail shops and stores, nail salons and childcare services are all sectors that have boomed in Brooklyn over the past few years, and these are the very businesses that have been ordered closed to stop the spread. Even construction, a seemingly permanent part of the borough’s lifeblood, has been squeezed out, as new rules mandate that only essential construction — such as roads, homeless shelters and health care facilities — will be allowed. Roughly 72 percent of all construction jobs in the city are based outside of Manhattan.

The analysis shows that more than 19 percent of jobs in Brooklyn are in restaurants and retail, compared to just over 15 percent in Manhattan. The boroughs outside Manhattan are home to more than 76 percent of all jobs citywide in the childcare services sector, “Which is reeling as daycares close,” the center says.

The four non-Manhattan boroughs are also home to roughly 59 percent of all the city’s barber shops and nail salons (though not beauty salons, which still tend to cluster in Manhattan).

The four boroughs’ economic vulnerability may also be heightened by their limited success in growing jobs in office sectors, where people are more able to work from home during the crisis. While Manhattan is home to roughly 83 percent of office jobs studied, Brooklyn is only home to a bit over 7 percent. An effort to add more office space to Downtown Brooklyn through rezoning brought mostly residential towers instead.

Manhattan’s weakest business sectors during the ongoing pandemic are hotels, museums and entertainment venues, according to the analysis.

Check out the full report, titled A Blow to the Boroughs.

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