What Does Your Neighborhood Economy Look Like?: Equitable Economic Development Indicators

ANHD’s latest research chart gives poverty indicators for each of New York neighborhoods.


New York City is experiencing major financial growth. But despite its economic dynamism, the city’s economic vitality remains unevenly distributed, and income inequality is at an all-time high. The City’s economic successes remain particularly out of reach for the low-, middle- and working-class communities that constitute the backbone of New York City.

Today, ANHD releases its new analysis and first of its kind tool, What Does Your Neighborhood Economy Look Like? 2015 Equitable Economic Development Indicators.

This research is part of ANHD’s new Equitable Economic Development focus. The chart provides a broad overview of New York City’s economic development health, neighborhood by neighborhood. Data are presented in an intuitive, color-coded chart, and are also available in an online searchable map. Indicators are grouped into four categories: Income and Benefits, Employment and Education, Community and Infrastructure, and Banking and Access.

“The ANHD equitable economic development indicators present an interesting new framework for comparing the relative economic development challenges and opportunities facing each New York City community planning district. The indicators have the potential to serve as a helpful tool for monitoring progress towards the goal of citywide equitable development,” said Colvin Grannum President and CEO of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.

In neighborhoods such as Bedford Stuyvesant, Corona, and Fordham/Belmont, community groups and local leaders have long been fighting for and working to improve economic opportunity in their communities, but their work has not been central in the City’s historical approach to economic development that focused heavily on increasing the city’s tax base with strategic investments in core-Manhattan job sectors.

“The chart highlights the nuances and challenges for the Mayor, elected officials, community groups and advocates working to address equity and bridge the gap of economic opportunity in our City. It helps us dive into the conversation about what are new innovative strategies, tools, and policies that we need to create together and be better informed about the different opportunities and barriers that different neighborhoods may present,” said Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director of ANHD.

Striking Findings

Percent of Jobs paying $40,000 or less are surprisingly low in areas with high rates of poverty and unemployment, particularly in the Bronx, suggesting that many of the above $40,000 jobs located in Bronx are not going to local residents. And mean travel time to work suggests that Bronx residents are traveling further to go to lower paying jobs.

The high share of small businesses concentrated in the outer boroughs, an important and part of the NYC economy and local economy, are at-risk from rising rents, the shrinking stock low-cost commercial and industrial space, and neighborhood displacement pressures.

Disconnected Youth, or people ages 16-24 who are not working or in school, tend to live in neighborhoods with high rates of overall unemployment, and particularly in areas where there is high credit card debt.

EDC dollars invested differ widely across neighborhoods. Based on EDC reported project dollars, data indicates that certain neighborhoods have received little funding from the agency, while others receive a disproportionate amount of funds, often not correlating to the areas of greatest need.

Despite our extensive data collection, we know that no single chart can capture the entirety of NYC economic opportunities and barriers. For example, it does not capture the decades of hard work by local community groups and community leaders to improve economic opportunity in their local neighborhoods. Likewise, this tool does not include the full array economic indicators and investments; some integral pieces of information that we know impact local economic opportunity were not available such as debt by neighborhood, percent of formerly incarcerated residents, and non-EDC investment. This highlights the need for better improved transparency and reporting of economic development indicators and investments from all City agencies.

The de Blasio administration has already shown that it is thinking differently about where economic development program effort and investment dollars should go. In Fiscal Year 2014 EDC has allocated more dollars to boroughs outside of Manhattan than other Administrations have in the recent past. However there is not yet a clear picture of the overall comprehensive economic development strategy will be for the City and for neighborhoods.

ANHD hopes this tool will help inform the discussion and the development of effective strategies that will provide thriving, equitable communities for all New Yorkers. In order to do so, it is vital to pay attention to and understand the current economic landscape of New York both citywide and at the neighborhood level. This tool gives residents, policymakers, and advocates clear information both by geography and by category to view the broad economic health on a citywide and community-level perspective.

“ANHD launched our Equitable Economic Development (EqED) initiative because our members want to ensure that future Administrations intentionally focus on comprehensive strategies for communities, populations, and neighborhoods that have historically faced significant barriers to economic opportunity. We see EqED as way to redefine traditional economic development into an approach that puts equity and opportunity for all communities at its core,” says Barika X Williams, Deputy Director at ANHD.

Equitable economic development takes into account the linkages between land use and employment, infrastructure and education, and creates a holistic vision of community health. It is necessary to ensure just and equal opportunity for wealth building, quality jobs, and prospering neighborhoods. Above all, equitable economic development focuses on collective economic mobility rather than on increasing the tax base through investments in economic sectors that concentrate the benefits at the top of the economic scale.

In this time of deep income inequality, a shift in economic development is urgently needed in order to create and maintain thriving, healthy communities for all New Yorkers. Together, advocates and policymakers can begin to reverse the widening inequality gap and put in place inclusive policies that promote opportunities for all residents.

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