Economic Research & Analysis

April 2014 Economic Snapshot

Inside this Volume

Private employment rose in New York City by 400 between January and February 2014.
The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent in February 2014 from 7.8 percent in January.
The Manhattan Class A office vacancy rate was 9.9 percent in March 2014, while the average asking rent was $70 PSF.
The Manhattan hotel occupancy rate in February 2014 was 77.3 percent, down from 80.0 in February 2013.
Passengers in NYC area airports totaled 8.2 million in January 2014, down 1.0 percent from January 2013.


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#48 Commuting Trends in New York City

This month’s Economic Snapshot looks at commuting trends in New York City. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, around half of NYC residents commute to a job outside their borough of residence.


  • Private sector jobs in New York City rose by 400 in February 2014 after an increase of 21,600 jobs in January 2014.
  • In the same period, government jobs in the City fell by 1,000, resulting in a net decrease of 600 total private and public sector jobs in February.
  • Since February 2013, private sector employment has risen by 88,700 jobs or 2.6 percent.
  • New York City’s unemployment rate rose to 7.9% in February 2014 from 7.8% in January 2014.
  • Between January and February 2014, the number of employed City residents increased by 9,700, and the number of unemployed City residents rose by 5,700.

Commuting Trends in New York City

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, about 3.8 million NYC residents worked in 2012, and about 3.6 million worked outside their homes. Around half of NYC residents commute to a job outside their borough of residence (45.1%), primarily to Manhattan.1
  • Queens residents are most likely to commute elsewhere: 57.6% of workers travel to non-Queens jobs, followed by the Bronx with 56.7%. NYC men are more likely to commute outside of their borough than women (47.7% vs. 42.3%). This gender difference is greatest in Staten Island, where 53.2% of men vs. 39.6% of women commute elsewhere.

  • Bicycling to work has become a popular means of transport in the City, with ridership jumping 82.9% from 2006 to 2012 (an average of 10.6% per year). This jump is most notable in Brooklyn, where ridership rose from 7,179 to 16,915 (135.6%).
  • By neighborhood, Manhattan’s 3rd Community District, including the Lower East Side and Chinatown, led in bicycle commuting with 3,303 riders in 2012.2 The next seven slots are occupied by Community Districts in Brooklyn, led by the 2nd and 6th Districts (2,288 and 2,165 riders, respectively). These districts cover the areas south of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, including Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, and Red Hook.

  • While bicycle transit to work has risen, commuting by vehicles (both private and public) is down. Commuting by car, truck, or van fell 3.1% to 1.0 million between 2006 and 2012, while commuting by taxicab fell 26.5% to 37,219. Public bus commuting fell by 13.0%—although with 419,338 riders commuting by bus, buses remain the second most popular public transportation option.
  • Despite a drop in bus ridership, commuting by public transportation has increased overall, thanks to gains in subway and ferry ridership. The number of subway commuters rose 16.3% from 1.4 to 1.6 million between 2006 and 2012. Ferry commuting also increased, rising 9.0% from 8,827 to 9,625 over the period. With the addition of the Rockaway Ferry and increased usage of the East River Ferry, this figure may continue to rise.

  • The two hours between 7:00 and 9:00 AM are a busy time on NYC’s streets, subways, and ferries, as that is when half of the City’s workers undertake their morning commutes. The most common half-hour block for New Yorkers to leave home is between 8:00 and 8:29 AM, when 17.9% of commuters head to work. Next is 7:00 to 7:29 AM, when 14.4% leave. In the Bronx and Staten Island, the most common time to leave is between 7:00 and 7:29 AM, which may reflect longer commuting times.
  • There are subtle differences in the average ages of workers by method of commuting. People who work at home have the highest median age (45.3). Those who commute by car, truck, or van have a median age of 44.3 if they carpool and 43.8 if they drive alone. The typical commuter who uses a taxicab, motorcycle, bicycle, or other means is 41.3 years old, and the typical pedestrian commuter is 38.6. Public transportation riders have the youngest median age at 37.8.

1 Percentages are of those who work. Borough-to-borough commuting was analyzed in our March 2013 Economic Snapshot using 2006–2010 Journey-to-Work information based on American Community Survey data.
2 The American Community Survey reports data for Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs), which closely but not exactly follow community district boundaries in New York City. We assume them to be equal for the purpose of this analysis.

Real Estate and Construction

Manhattan Office Market

  • In March 2014, the Manhattan Class A direct vacancy rate fell to 9.9 percent while the average rental rate remained at $70 PSF.
  • In the same month, the Downtown Class A direct vacancy rate fell to 12.3 percent and the rental rate rose to $55 PSF.
  • The Manhattan Class A sublease vacancy rate fell to 1.8 percent from 2.0 percent from February to March.

Source: Cushman and Wakefield


For the twelve months ending February 2014:

  • Building projects (including new, additions and alterations) that started construction in NYC rose by 6.4 percent, and infrastructure (non-building) project starts fell by 7.0 percent from the twelve months ending February 2013.
  • Planned space for building project starts rose by 11.9 percent from the same period in 2013. 
  • 2,816 residential building projects began construction, a 13.3 percent increase from the twelve months ending in February 2013. These starts contained 22,739 units, an increase of 38.7 percent from last year.

Source: McGraw Hill Construction

Tourism, Travel and Transit

Transit Ridership

  • Total ridership on MTA subways, trains and buses in February 2014 was 199.4 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from February 2013.
  • Subway ridership in February 2014 was 129.8 million, which was a 1.5 percent increase from February 2013.

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Air Traffic

  • In January 2014, 8.2 million passengers flew into and out of the region's airports, a decrease of 1.0 percent from January 2013.
  • Domestic air carriers accounted for 5.3 million passengers, a 3.1 percent decrease from January 2013.
  • 2.9 million passengers traveled with international air carriers in January 2014, a 3.0 percent increase from January 2013.

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Broadway Ticket Sales

  • Total Broadway attendance was approximately 1.03 million during the four weeks ending March 30, 2014, up 14.3 percent from the same period last year.
  • Broadway revenue during this period was about $101.3 million, up 13.7 percent from last year.

Note: Gross revenue and attendance figures include all shows playing on Broadway during the specified period.
Source: The Broadway League

Hotel Occupancy

  • In February 2014, the average daily hotel room rate was $232, an 6.0 percent increase from February 2013.
  • Hotel occupancy was 77.3 percent in February 2014, down from 80.0 in February 2013.
  • The average daily hotel room rate increased the most in hotels charging over $315 per night.

Source: PKF Consulting