Economic Research & Analysis

February 2015 Economic Snapshot

Inside this Volume

Private employment in New York City rose by 13,600 between December 2014 and January 2015.
The unemployment rate remained the same at 6.5% between December 2014 and January 2015.
The Manhattan Class A office vacancy rate was 8.8% in January 2015, while the average asking rent was $75 PSF.
Hotel occupancy was 90.2% in December 2014, up from 90.0% in December 2013.
Passengers in New York City area airports totaled 10.0 million in December 2014, up 3.6% from December 2013.


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#58 The New York City Fashion Industry

This month's economic snapshot looks at the fashion industry in New York City.


  • Private sector jobs in New York City rose by 13,600 in January 2015 after a gain of 10,900 jobs in December 2014.
  • Government jobs in the city fell slightly, resulting in a net overall increase of 13,200 total private and public sector jobs in January.
  • Since January 2014, private sector employment has risen by 112,300 jobs or 3.3%.
  • New York City’s unemployment rate was 6.5% in January 2015, the same as that of the month prior.

The New York City Fashion Industry

  • According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), the fashion industry employed approximately 183,210 workers in New York City in 2013, representing 5.5% of total private employment.  
  • Fashion retailers (clothing and clothing accessory stores; sewing, needlework, and piece goods stores; and department stores) are the largest fashion sub-group, comprising more than 58% of total fashion employment in NYC. Jewelry and apparel merchant wholesalers comprised the second-largest share of fashion employment in 2013 (23%), followed by apparel manufacturing (13%), management (4%), and design (2%).
  • Figure I shows the relative growth/decline of each fashion sub-sector over the last decade. Overall, the fashion industry experienced a net increase of 2,975 jobs (+1.7%) from 2003 to 2013. The largest gains came from retail establishments (+26,800), followed by design (+1,400). Fashion manufacturing in NYC took a significant hit over the period, with the total headcount falling by more than one-half between 2003 and 2013. This exceeded the decline in NYC manufacturing employment overall, which was down 40% over the period.

 NYSDOL, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

  • Though aspects of the fashion industry have suffered the same competitive pressures as the rest of the city’s economy, NYC still specializes in fashion manufacturing, wholesale, and design. NYC’s location quotient (LQ), which measures the concentration of industry employment in an area relative to the country as a whole, is 1.75 for the fashion industry overall, meaning that fashion is 1.75 times more concentrated in NYC than in the nation as a whole (see Figure II). Though nowhere near pre-WWII heights, when the Garment District in Manhattan housed the highest concentration of apparel manufacturers in the world, fashion manufacturing remains 2.25 times more concentrated in NYC than in the nation overall.1 As shown in Figure III, the Garment District is still the epicenter of fashion activity in NYC; its three composite ZIP Codes (10001, 10018, and 10036) top the list of the most “fashionable” areas in NYC, with fashion establishments comprising 16%, 32%, and 31% of total establishments in each ZIP Code, respectively.

 NYSCOL and BLS, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

 U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns

View an interactive version of this map with info on fashion establishments by zip code. 

  • According to the Center for an Urban Future, an estimated 900 fashion firms are headquartered in NYC, which is more than double that of Paris, the next closest competitor.2 NYC is also home to nearly 40% of the nation’s fashion designers.3

1 Gotham Center for New York City History, “Garment Industry Historical Overview”
2 Center for an Urban Future, “Growth by Design,” June 2011.
3 NYSDOL and BLS, Occupational Employment Statistics

Real Estate and Construction

Manhattan Office Market

  • In January 2015, the Manhattan Class A direct vacancy rate fell to 8.8% while the average rental rate increased slightly to $75 PSF.
  • The direct vacancy rate for Midtown South rose slightly to 4.5%, while the corresponding rental rate increased by $2 PSF between December 2014 and January 2015. The direct vacancy rate for Downtown Class A office space fell to 10.9% while rental rates held steady at $56 over the period.
  • The Manhattan Class A sublease vacancy rate was 1.7% in January 2015—the same as one month prior.


For the twelve months ending January 2015:

  • Building projects (including new, additions, and alterations) that started construction in NYC rose by 3.4% while infrastructure (non-building) project starts were down 14.5% from the twelve months ending January 2014.
  • Planned space for building project starts rose by 7.0% from the same period in 2014. The value associated with these projects was up 43.7% over the period.
  • 3,028 residential building project starts began construction, a 5.0% increase from the twelve months ending in January 2014. These starts contained 25,251 units, an increase of 1.8% from last year.

Transit, Travel, and Tourism

Transit Ridership

  • Total ridership on MTA subways, trains, and buses in December 2014 was 230.4 million, an increase of 4.6% from December 2013.
  • Subway ridership in December 2014 was 150.1 million, up 5.3% from December 2013.

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Air Traffic

  • In December 2014, 10.0 million passengers flew into and out of the region's airports, an increase of 3.6% from December 2013.
  • Domestic air carriers accounted for 6.6 million passengers, a 2.9% increase from December 2013.
  • 3.5 million passengers traveled with international air carriers in December 2014, a 5.0% increase from December 2013.

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Broadway Ticket Sales

  • Total Broadway attendance was approximately 1,205,600 during the five weeks ending February 1, 2015, up 17.3% from the same period last year.
  • Broadway revenues during this period were about $129.8 million, up 21.7% 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 December 2014, the average daily hotel room rate was $341, a 2.7% decrease from December 2013. 
  • Hotel occupancy was 90.2% in December 2014, up from 90.0% in December 2013. 
  • The average daily hotel room rate decreased the most in hotels charging between $245 and $300 per night.