Economic Research & Analysis

October 2015 Economic Snapshot

Inside this Volume

Private employment in New York City fell by 14,400 between August and September 2015.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.2% between August and September 2015.
The Manhattan Class A office vacancy rate was 8.3% in September 2015, while the average asking rent was $77 PSF.
Hotel occupancy was 92.2% in July 2015, up from 90.8% in July 2014.
Passengers in New York City area airports totaled 12.0 million in July 2015, up 6.6% from July 2014.

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#66 Farmers' Markets in New York City

This month's podcast looks at Farmers' Markets in New York City.

Employment

  • Private sector jobs in New York City fell by 14,400 in September 2015 after a gain of 1,100 jobs in August 2015.
  • Government jobs in the city increased by 100, resulting in a net overall decrease of 14,200 jobs between August and September 2015. Administrative Services had the largest month-to-month growth, adding 1,400 jobs.
  • Since September 2014, private sector employment has risen by 69,800 jobs or 2.0%. This compares to the national growth rate of 2.1%.
  • New York City’s unemployment rate was 5.2% in September 2015, down from 5.4% one month prior.

Farmers' Markets in New York City

  • While farmers’ markets were common in New York City during the 19th century, their popularity and numbers declined with the rise of supermarkets and bodegas in much of the 20th century. Since the 1970s, however, farmers’ markets have seen a resurgence. They satisfy consumer demand for locally grown foods and provide an outlet for small-scale farmers who increasingly face consolidation in the agricultural industry. These concurrent trends led to the founding of the first New York City Greenmarket in 1976. What began with a dozen farmers in a parking lot on 59th St. and 2nd Ave. has since become “the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers’ market network in the country,” with 82 markets throughout the five boroughs that support more than 200 local farmers.1

Snapshot Figure 1

  • In addition to improving access to healthy foods, farmers’ markets also provide jobs, catalyze nearby business growth, and support farmers across the region. According to the director of NYC’s Greenmarkets, 85% of vendors say that they would be out of business without the markets.2  Meat, fish, and produce markets are also major employers in NYC, employing more than 8,400 workers in 2014. Employment at retail food markets in NYC has increased 27.8% over the last decade (see Figure I).
  • Consumers in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area have allocated a smaller share of total annual expenditures toward food over the last decade (13.6% in 2003/4 versus 11.6% in 2013/4). Spending on meals eaten away from home has dropped as well to 4.9% in 2013/4 from 6.1% in 2003/4. Among expenditures on food eaten at home, NYC consumers have shifted spending away from meats, poultry, fish, and eggs toward fruits and vegetables over the last decade (see Figure II).

Snapshot Figure 2

  • In the U.S., New York State is second only to California in the number of farmers’ markets (663 versus 763, respectively).3  NYC is home to nearly a quarter (or ~150) of the state’s total, and the number of farmers’ markets throughout the city has nearly doubled since 2006 (80).4
  • The Upper East Side/Gramercy, Upper West Side, and Chelsea/Greenwich Village neighborhoods had the greatest proportion of residents who reported eating five or more servings of fruits/vegetables per day in 2013 (22.7%, 22.5%, and 18.2%, respectively) (see Figure III).5  Conversely, the South Bronx, Williamsburg/Bushwick, and East New York/New Lots had the greatest share of residents who reported eating zero fruits/vegetable servings in the last 24 hours (25.8%, 20.1%, and 18.8%, respectively). The South Bronx is today home to the greatest number of farmers’ markets in the city (16), followed by BedStuy/Crown Heights (14) and Union Square/Lower Manhattan (12). City initiatives to make farmers’ markets more accessible to low-income families include Health Bucks, a $2 credit for every $5 worth of food stamps spent at any farmers’ market in NYC.  

Snapshot Figure 3

http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket
2 “Why the New York City Greenmarket is Great for Small Farms,” Business Insider, Sep. 29, 2014 http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/09/29/new_york_city_gre...
3 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Farmers’ Market Directory
4 2015 total: USDA and NYC DOHMH Farmers’ Market Map 2015;
   2006 estimate: “Farmers’ Markets in NYC,” Office of the State Comptroller, August 2012
5 Neighborhood definitions per United Hospital Fund Neighborhood Index: https://a816-healthpsi.nyc.gov/epiquery/CHS/uhf-zip-information.pdf

Real Estate and Construction

Real Estate

  • In September 2015, the Manhattan Class A direct vacancy rate fell slightly to 8.3% from 8.4% one month prior, while the average rental rate increased to $77 PSF.
  • Direct vacancy rates in Midtown and Midtown South went unchanged between August and September 2015, while the rate for Downtown fell by half a percentage point.
  • The Manhattan sublease vacancy rate rose from 1.4% in August 2015 to 1.6% in September, while the corresponding rental rate fell from $65 PSF to $63 PSF.

Construction

For the twelve months ending August 2015:

  • The number of building projects (including new, additions, and alterations) that started construction in New York City was up 2.4% relative to the twelve-month period ending August 2014. Planned space for such projects was 80.4% higher than the same period in 2014, suggesting that building projects have become larger. The value associated with these projects was up 58.0% over the period.
  • 3,470 residential building projects began construction, a 7.8% increase from the twelve months ending in August 2014. These starts contained 47,350 units, an increase of 95.6% from last year.

Note: based on the latest available data. 

Transit, Travel, and Tourism

Transit Ridership

  • Total ridership on MTA subways, trains, and buses in August 2015 was 215.9 million, a decrease of 0.51% from August 2014.
  • Subway ridership in August 2015 was 139.8 million, down 0.06% from August 2014.

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Air Traffic

  • In July 2015, 12.0 million passengers flew into and out of the region's airports, an increase of 6.6% from July 2014.
  • Domestic air carriers accounted for 7.5 million passengers, an 8.1% increase from July 2014.
  • 4.5 million passengers traveled with international air carriers in July 2015, a 4.1% increase from July 2014.

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Broadway Ticket Sales

  • Total Broadway attendance was approximately 841,990 during the four weeks ending September 27, 2015, down 4.3% from the same period last year.
  • Broadway revenues during this period were about $85.7 million, down by 1.0% 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 July 2015, the average daily hotel room rate was $266, a 0.4% increase from July 2014.
  • Hotel occupancy was 92.2% in July 2015, up from 90.8% in July 2014.
  • The average occupancy rate decreased the most in hotels charging over $500 per night, decreasing by 4.3% from July of last year.