Economic Research & Analysis

November 2016 Economic Snapshot

Highlights

Private employment in New York City fell by 11,400 between August and September 2016.
Losses were led by the Accommodation and Food Services sector, which shed 4,500 jobs.
The unemployment rate rose to 5.9%.
Subway ridership grew 1.1% from last year.
Hotel room rates are down 4.4% from last year.

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#79 How Citi Bike Works

Citi Bike is a wildly popular bike share program in New York City – but who exactly uses it, and why? This month, Simon and Andrew merge into the bike lane and get the economic data on the City's cycling successes.


Employment

  • New York City private sector jobs fell by 11,400 in October, following September losses of 3,900

  • The unemployment growth rate rose to 5.9%, from 5.8% in September

  • Public sector jobs in the city increased by 100, resulting in overall losses of 11,300 payroll jobs between September and October 2016

  • The highest losses occurred in the in the Accommodation and Food Services sector, which saw declines of 4,500 jobs from the previous month. This is a large portion of the total job losses and an unusually large drop from month-to-month. Over the past twelve months, however, Accommodation and Food Services have added 10,600 jobs, the second highest of any sector

  • Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation and Other Services also saw relatively high job losses from last month, falling by 2,400 and 1,900 jobs, respectively

  • Professional and Business Services saw significant job growth in October adding 4,500 jobs, making up for underperformances earlier in the year. Administrative Services and Health Care and Social Assistance also saw strong growth, adding 1,100 and 1,000 jobs, respectively

Who Benefits from Citi Bike?

Since Citi Bike’s launch in May 2013, the program’s popularity has climbed steadily, and the prominence of Citi Bike stations across the City is evidence of its success. Over 1.65 million rides were registered on 9,823 bicycles in September 2016, which is the most in the program’s history and a 27.8% increase from the previous year. By comparison, 5,444 bikes were used for 1.03 million rides in September 2013. While ridership continues to grow rapidly, the bike’s average monthly use has steadily fallen from 190 rides per bike in the month of September 2013 to 168 rides per bike in September 2016.1

Citi Bike is designed to increase bicycle access for both New Yorkers and visitors, but annual subscribers—a vast majority of whom are New York City residents—take 86.6% of Citi Bike rides. Customers buying one- or three-day passes take the remaining 13.4%. This ratio has been steady since the inception of the program, as has the average fifteen-minute trip time. Ridership patterns illustrate that the Citi Bike tends to serve as more of a utility for those living in the city than as an attraction for tourists. As such, bike rides during the week spike during the regular commuting hours of 7-9:00am and 5-7:00pm while weekend ridership is much lower.

Citi Bike Ridership by Gender and Age

There is a false assumption that because Citi Bike is a tool for commuting, bikes would naturally cycle back to stations at the same rate they leave. This is not the case, however, and Citi Bike stations need to be continuously rebalanced. In September, Penn Station was the most imbalanced station with more than 2,700 departures than returns. The largest net senders of Citi Bikes were in Midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side, while Citi Bike docks in Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn were more likely to receive customers than send them off.

Citi Bike Ridership by Time of Day

Although it’s not the primary use of Citi Bike, sightseeing is a significant draw for the program. Of the thirty most popular bike routes, roughly half appear to be related to leisure. Several routes are seen going up the Hudson River Greenway on the West Side of Manhattan, as well as around Central Park and Governors Island.

City Ridership by Census Track

Gender dynamics is an interesting metric to explore as well. Of those riders who reported their gender to Citi Bike in September, nearly three quarters (73.8%) are men. The ratio of men to women is the widest among older riders and hits a low of about two men for every one woman for riders in their early 20s. On average, female riders are slightly younger than their male counterparts, with a median birth year of 1983 compared with 1981 for men.

1All data is publicly available from Citi Bike at www.citibikenyc.com/system-data

Real Estate & Construction

Manhattan Office Market

  • The Manhattan Class A office market remained relatively steady for October 2016. The direct vacancy rate and direct rental rate were relatively unchanged from last month, at 8.6% and $81, respectively

  • Office rents have risen by 4.1% from last year, with much of this growth attributable to elevated subleasing activity. Sublease rental rates rose to $62 from $59 in September

  • Midtown South remains the priciest and fastest-rising Manhattan submarket with rents up 14.6% from October 2015. Meanwhile, prices in Downtown have fallen by 1.2% from last year

Construction

For the twelve months ending August 2016:

  • The number of construction projects rose by 10.4%. This growth was led by non-residential projects, which increased 14%. The only type of project to decline was that of non-building infrastructure projects, which fell by 6.2% between August 2015 and August 2016. This type of project, however, only represented 5.1% of all construction project types during this time period

  • Both the value and square footage of construction projects were down from last year’s August-ending totals. Total new building square footage was down 35.1% while the corresponding value of new building projects was down 33.4%
  • August 2016 saw the starts for 1,913 dwelling units across the City and 29,134 units over the last twelve months. This is down 38.5% from the prior twelve months

Source: Dodge Data & Analytics
Note: based on latest available data

Transit, Travel, and Tourism

Transit Ridership

  • Total ridership on MTA New York City subways and buses in September 2016 was 203.3 million, a 0.8% increase from September 2015. While bus ridership was virtually unchanged, subway ridership rose 1.1% from last year, reaching 148.4 million

  • MTA Bridges and Tunnels continued to host growing traffic, with 26 million passengers in September, a 3.4% gain from last year. Commuter rails were split with the Long Island Rail Road growing modestly and the Metro-North Railroad slightly down from last year

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Travel and Tourism

Air Traffic

  • In September 2016, 11.3 million passengers flew into and out of the New York City region’s airports, an increase of 9.8% from September 2015

  • This increase was driven by domestic flights, which carried 7.3 million passengers on 79,892 flights in September 2016. These are increases of 12.6% and 6.1%, respectively, from the same month in 2015

  • Freight transport also increased at regional airports, rising 6.7% from September 2015. This increase was led by domestic freight, which grew 10.5% from last month

Source: Port Authority of New York

Broadway Ticket Sales

  • In October 2016, Broadway ticket revenues totaled $126.7 million, a 3.3% increase from the same period in 2015.

  • Rising ticket prices, which reached $104.34 on average from $101.11 a year prior, drove revenue increases. Attendance held steady from last year at 1.2 million.

Source: The Broadway League
Note: Gross revenue and attendance figures may not include all shows

Hotel Occupancy

  • In August 2016, the average daily hotel room rate was $249, a 4.4% decrease from August 2015; this is the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year price decreases.

Source: PKF Consulting
Note: Based on latest available data