Economic Research & Analysis

October 2016 Economic Snapshot

Inside this Volume

Private employment in New York City fell by 3,100 between August and September 2016.
The unemployment rate rose to 5.8% over the last month.
Manhattan office vacancy rates rose to 8.7% in September.
Ridership on regional commuter railways is fast growing, while subway and bus ridership is flat.
Broadway revenues are up nearly 3% from last year.


Audio Resources


#78 Food Supply Study

This month, we sit down with NYCEDC experts from both the Center for Urban Innovation and Development to discuss the food distribution study recently released by the Mayor's Office.


  • The unemployment growth rate rose to 5.8% from 5.4% in August

  • Public sector jobs in the City increased by 300, resulting in an overall 2,800 payroll jobs between August and September 2016

  • Educational Services, a sector that commonly exhibits employment volatility, led the losses by dropping 9,900 jobs in September

  • The Transportation and Utilities sector and Retail Trade also experienced high losses, shedding 2,900 and 2,400 jobs, respectively

  • September’s losses were offset by employment gains in some sectors, including Professional and Business Services and Finance and Insurance, which grew by 6,300 and 3,600 jobs, respectively

  • Private sector employment has risen by 83,800 jobs since September 2015 an increase of 2.3% compared to the national growth rate of 1.9%)

  • The strongest twelve-month employment gains were in the Accommodation and Food Services and the Health Care and Social Assistance sectors

Food Supply in New York City

New York City is the country’s biggest city, hosts the largest share of tourists to the US, and employs the largest workforce in the nation—so it’s no surprise that feeding all of these people is a very complicated logistical process. NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency commissioned a recent study that details the City’s food distribution systems to understand the City’s vast food networks better. The study provides an in-depth look at what is known as last-mile delivery, the processes by which food moves from wholesale suppliers to local points of sale.

Hunts Point is one of the country’s biggest food distribution centers, and the largest geographic hub for the City’s food distribution system. Every year, 2.3 billion pounds of food—12% of the City’s total food supply—are moved from Hunts Point to New York City food vendors. For the categories in which Hunts Point specializes, the market share is even greater: Hunts Point accounts for approximately 25% of produce, approximately 35% of meat, and approximately 45% of fish distributed into New York City (by volume) annually. Just over half of all distributors to New York City points of sale are located in the City itself. The majority of local distributors only supply food regionally, national distributors and warehouses provide smaller shares overall.

The study shows that 19.2 billion pounds of food are distributed every year in New York City. Independent restaurants and cafes account for the largest portion, consuming 38% of all distributed food. Restaurants are followed by supermarkets and bodegas, which respectively account for 23.8% and 18.2% of food (by volume) delivered to the City. The remaining one-fifth of food goes to other types of markets, such as specialized stores and clubs, and institutions that include hospitals and schools.

Restaurants account for more than half of all point-of-sale outlets for the City’s food supply; of the 42,000 point-of-sale outlets in New York City, 19,700 are independent restaurants. The City’s 10,500 bodegas comprise 25% of all point-of-sale outlets and are the second largest in the category. These patterns vary across the City, however. Higher-income neighborhoods have a greater density of independent restaurants, which make up 63.7% of point-of-sale outlets, with bodegas making up 14.4%. Lower-income areas make up for smaller restaurant concentrations (46.7% of point-of-sale outlets) and have more plentiful bodegas that account for 36.4% of point-of-sale outlets. Quick service restaurants, which include chains from McDonald’s to Chipotle, are the third most common food outlets with 2,000 citywide locations—far less than the city’s nearly 20,000 independent restaurants. These locations are slightly more common in higher-income neighborhoods where they represent 6.4% of food establishments (compared to 4.8% in lower-income neighborhoods).

While the primary goal of the food distribution sector is to supply the City with food, it has the positive benefit of creating good jobs as well. Workers employed in the distribution of food have the highest level of education on average (30% have at least an associate’s degree) and higher income (averaging $50,251 in 2015) of any food-related sub-sector. These 22,700 distribution jobs are split between management and operations (27%), sales and marketing (25%), and labor/warehouse/production (48%). Manufacturing is the next-largest employer in food distribution sector with 17,444 New York City workers in 2015.

Real Estate & Construction

Manhattan Office Market

  • In August 2016, the Manhattan Class A direct vacancy rate fell to 8.4% from 8.6% one month prior, while the average rental rate held steady at $81 per square foot for the fourth month in a row

  • While the direct vacancy rate for Class A Office space in Midtown South increased by 0.1%, the average rental rate increased by over 8.0%, hitting $93 per square foot

  • The Class A sublease rental rate rose by $1 from one month prior, led by gains in Midtown sublease properties from one month prior, led by gains in Midtown sublease properties


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 August 2016 was 190.3 million, a 0.7% decrease from August 2015. Subway ridership fell 0.2% since last August and bus ridership fell 2.0%

  • All other MTA divisions, which include the commuter rails and bridges and tunnels, saw increases from last year. These increases were led by the Staten Island Railway, which carried 348,204 riders in August 2016 – a 5.0% growth from the prior year. This was closely followed by the Long Island Rail Road’s 5.0% growth to 7.9 million riders in August 2016

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Travel and Tourism

Air Traffic

  • 12.4 million passengers flew into and out of the New York City region’s airports in August 2016, an increase of 2.2% from August 2015
  • There were 82,885 domestic flights carrying 7.6 million passengers in August 2016. This compares to the 27,864 international flights carrying 4.8 million passengers last year
  • Freight transport also increased at regional airports, rising 5.5% from August 2016. This increase was led by domestic freight, which grew 13.5% from last month

Source: Port Authority of New York

Broadway Ticket Sales

  • Total Broadway attendance was 865,306 during the four weeks ending September 25, 2016, up 2.8% from the same period last year
  • Broadway revenues during this period were $87.9 million, up 2.5% from last year.

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

Hotel Occupancy

  • In July 2016, the average daily hotel room rate was $260, a 2.2% decrease from July 2015, and the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year price decreases.
  • Hotel occupancy was 90% in July 2016, down from 92.2% in July 2015.
  • Only hotels with rooms priced above $500 saw rising prices from last year. The Uptown submarket (above 59th street) was the only Manhattan market that saw an increase in room rates.

Source: PKF Consulting
Note: Based on latest available data