Job and business growth has reached record levels on Staten Island, report says

Tracey Porpora

Staten Island Advance

Sep 26, 2018

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- From its decreasing unemployment rate to its booming employment sector, Staten Island is benefiting from strong economic growth, according to a new report released Wednesday by the state comptroller’s office.

“An Economic Snapshot of Staten Island,” released by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, revealed that the borough’s job sector is greatly increasing, and the Island boasts lower unemployment rates and a stronger housing market than ever before.

“Jobs and businesses have reached record levels on Staten Island, spurred by reconstruction, new development and a growing leisure and hospitality sector,” DiNapoli said. “Staten Island’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy demonstrates the borough’s strength. Of course, growth brings challenges, and I hope this report provides helpful information to Staten Island’s residents, elected officials, business community and nonprofits as they continue their efforts to build Staten Island’s future.”

Since 2012, the borough added 11,000 private sector jobs, reaching a record 97,000 in 2017. Three-quarters of the gains were concentrated in four industries: construction, social assistance, leisure and hospitality, and health care. The construction sector alone was responsible for one-third of the gains, according to the report.

Health care is the borough’s largest employer with 22,700 people, nearly one-quarter of private sector employment in 2017. Major employers include Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island University Hospital and South Beach Psychiatric Center, the report said. Since 2012, the sector has added 1,500 jobs, an increase of 7 percent.

“It comes as no surprise that health care is the largest employer on the Island, followed by retail trade. The trends are very positive in a host of areas, including population growth,” said DiNapoli, noting that the borough’s population reached a record 479,500 residents in 2017.

However, a spike in the social assistance sector -- a 30 percent increase in jobs since 2012 -- was chalked up to the borough’s growing drug epidemic.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS

The unemployment rate declined by half from 9.4 percent in 2010 to 4.6 percent in 2017, which is close to the citywide rate and a record-low reached in 2006 (both 4.5 percent), according to the report.

In addition, the borough was home to a record 9,500 businesses in 2017 -- 9 percent more than in 2012. More than two-thirds had fewer than five employees and 81 percent had fewer than 10 employees. Taxable business sales grew by 16 percent since 2012 (similar to the citywide growth), reaching a record $1.9 billion in 2016. The North Shore had the fastest growth, increasing by 22 percent.

Median household income was $79,200 in 2017, up 12 percent from 2010 and almost one-third higher than the citywide median. The borough had the second-lowest poverty rate in the city after Queens.

NEW BIG BUSINESS

The report highlighted new businesses that have opened on the Island, including Broadway Stages, the film and television production company located at the former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility. According to Empire State Development, the company is expected to create more than 1,300 permanent jobs.

The Amazon and Ikea warehouse facilities at the 200-acre Matrix Global Logistics Park will also fuel Staten Island’s economy, DiNapoli said. Amazon alone is expected to employ more than 2,000 workers, and the site is expected to employ more than 4,000 when fully leased.

OTHER REPORT FINDINGS

DiNapoli’s report also found that:

Immigrants represented nearly one-quarter of the borough’s population, with one-third coming from Europe. The foreign-born population grew by 57 percent between 2000 and 2017.

The construction sector grew by 66 percent between 2011 and 2017 (partly driven by rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy), adding twice as many jobs as were lost during the recession, to reach a record 9,700 jobs.

The leisure and hospitality sector grew by 19 percent between 2012 and 2017, adding 1,600 jobs, reflecting the growth in tourism.

Staten Island had the highest median age (40.4) of the five boroughs. The number of residents 55 and over has grown by 50 percent since 2000, much faster than in any other borough.

On average, residents spent 46 minutes commuting to work in 2017, much higher than the national average of 27 minutes and slightly higher than the citywide average. Half of Staten Islanders work on the Island, while 25 percent commute to Manhattan and 15 percent to Brooklyn.

In 2016, the borough was home to 39 percent of the city’s firefighters, 20 percent of its police officers and 10 percent of its elementary and middle-school teachers, although the Island accounts for only 5 percent of the city’s resident work force.