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State of Manufacturing in New York City


To celebrate National Manufacturing Day, the Economic Research and Analysis team at NYCEDC looked at trends in the manufacturing industry in New York City. We found that the sector is on the rise, employing over 78,000 workers in 2015, or 2.1% of the city’s private sector employees. Specifically, since 2011, employment in manufacturing has grown 3.3% in the City. The size of manufacturing establishments is also expanding, with the average New York manufacturer employee base growing +8.1% in the last year alone.

Economists at Moody’s are also predicting that manufacturing will contribute an increasing amount to Gross City Product (GCP) over the next several decades (see below figure), attributable largely to technological advances in manufacturing electronics[1] and increasing local food production. Indeed, the future of manufacturing is bright and well-positioned to make a comeback across New York City.

Manufacturing is a broad and diverse sector that encompasses anything from metal and steel production to ice-cream makers, which led us to research the subsectors that have been fueling recent manufacturing growth. Chief among these is food manufacturing, which has been making a major comeback between 2011 and 2015, expanding employment by 22.9%. As the demand for locally grown and artisanal foods grows in the City, food production companies are taking note, opening shop across the five boroughs.

Within food manufacturing, the growth rate for breweries was the highest during this time period, increasing by 267% (from 6 to 18 breweries), but it was retail bakeries that grew the most in absolute numbers, reaching 685 local establishments – a total increase of 64 establishments. Wood product manufacturing also experienced a 37.9% growth rate, mostly driven by the City’s demand for “high-end interiors, finishes, and furniture.”[2] However, because it is a niche sector, there is less of an overall effect on employment growth when compared to other subsectors.

Interestingly, some subsectors with the highest average wages saw the fastest job growth, most prominently being computer and electronic manufacturing, which grew by 26.7% between 2011 and 2015, pointing to a promising future for manufacturing jobs in New York City. The table below shows the manufacturing subsectors and their 5-year growth rates, paired with the average 2015 wages.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Historically, Manhattan has had the largest share of manufacturing employment of the boroughs. In 1970, nearly half of all local manufacturing occurred in this central borough. Since the 1970s, however, the share of manufacturing employment located in boroughs outside of Manhattan has grown consistently. As the figure below shows, Queens has seen the most growth in manufacturing employment, having grown from 18.1% of total manufacturing employment in 1970 to 28.0% in 2015.


Source: Moody's Economy

More recently, however, it has been Brooklyn that led both the employment and establishment growth, which rose 8.6% and 2.0%, respectively. Manhattan had the second strongest employment growth (4.6%) led by manufacturers of machinery, food, and electrical equipment. While Manhattan manufacturing is dominated by apparel manufacturing establishments, an additional 33 food manufacturing establishments opened between 2011 and 2015.

Many refer to this growth as the wave of new manufacturing, pointing to advanced manufacturing and trends in local, artisanal consumer products. Indeed, job opportunities in manufacturing are expanding for these resident creators and innovators. While manufacturing is challenged by high operating costs and limited space, NYCEDC is working diligently to help offset these hurdles to foster a promising future for manufacturers that strive to make it (and their products) here.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

Moody’s Economy.

“Making it Here: The Future of Manufacturing in New York City,” Center for an Urban Future.

[1] Moody’s Economy forecasts that the total output from manufacturing of electronic and electrical equipment will increase in real dollars (chained to 2009) by 489% by the year 2046.

[2] “Making it Here: The Future of Manufacturing in New York City”, Center for an Urban Future.

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