Economic Research & Analysis

September 2015 Economic Snapshot

Inside this Volume

Private employment in New York City rose by 1,500 between July and August 2015.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.4% between July and August 2015.
The Manhattan Class A office vacancy rate was 8.4% in August 2015, while the average asking rent was $76 PSF.
Hotel occupancy was 92.2% in July 2015, up from 90.8% in July 2014.
Passengers in New York City area airports totaled 11.1 million in June 2015, up 4.9% from June 2014.


RSS Feed

Subscribe to the
Podcasts Feed.
We're also on iTunes.

Audio Resources


#65 Fashion Manufacturing in New York City

This month's podcast looks into Fashion Manufacturing in New York City.


  • Private sector jobs in New York City rose by 1,500 in August 2015 after a gain of 8,990 jobs in July 2015.
  • Government jobs in the city fell by 100, resulting in a net overall increase of 1,400 jobs between July and August 2015. Health Care and Social Assistance had the largest month-to-month growth, adding 2,500 jobs.
  • Since August 2014, private sector employment has risen by 91,400 jobs or 2.6%.
  • New York City’s unemployment rate was 5.4% in August 2015, down from 5.7% one month prior.

Fashion Manufacturing in New York City

  • Fashion manufacturing employed approximately 22,210 workers in NYC in 2014, representing 12% of NYC fashion workers. This was down from 77,420 employees in 2000, a decline of 55,210 jobs over the past fourteen years (See Figure I). Between 2000 and 2003, fashion manufacturing fell 14-16% annually, whereas between 2011 and 2014 the declines leveled off, ranging from 0.3-3% per year.1 Today, NYC-based fashion firms are concentrated on the high value-added portions of the global supply chain such as design and marketing and they largely outsource manufacturing abroad.2

  • In 2014, the U.S. exported $6 billion in apparel goods to Canada (35%), Mexico (16%), United Kingdom (5%), Japan (4%), and El Salvador (2%); and imported $82 billion in apparel goods from China (36%), Vietnam (11%), Bangladesh (6%), Indonesia (6%), and Mexico (5%). By contrast, in 1989, the U.S. imported $21 billion and exported $1.9 billion in apparel goods.3
  • Women comprise 71% of the fashion manufacturing workforce, but only 42% of total manufacturing workers.
  • As of 2013, 23.6% of the fashion manufacturing workforce was between 35 and 44 years of age, 27.8% was between 45 and 54 and 15.9% was between 55 and 64, leaving 29% of workers below the age of 35 (See Figure II).

  • While foreign-born workers are underrepresented in the NYC Fashion industry relative to the private sector overall (38.3% vs. 43.9%, respectively), over 60% of the fashion manufacturing workforce in NYC is foreign born, with 30% born in Asia and 27% in Latin America (see Figure III). Of the sewing machine operators working in NYC’s fashion manufacturing sector, 93% reported speaking a foreign language at home.
  • NYC has the second-largest fashion manufacturing sector in the country, after Los Angeles County, which employs twice as many people. L.A. County employment is more concentrated in manufacturing overall. Of L.A. private sector jobs, 10% are in manufacturing compared with 2.2% in NYC. California’s fashion manufacturing industry benefits from proximity to Hollywood and a burgeoning art scene.4, 5 Still, fashion accounts for 30% of manufacturing employment in NYC versus 15% in L.A. County.6 
  • Fashion manufacturing workers in Manhattan earn nearly 2.3 times as much per year, on average, as their counterparts in L.A. County ($77,600 vs. $34,350, respectively).

  • While L.A. employs more people in apparel manufacturing, NYC is home to some of the world’s top fashion schools. The Guardian ranks Parsons fourth and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) fifth globally among fashion schools. They enroll nearly 10,000 and 5,000 students, respectively.7

1 New York State Department of Labor, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
2 “The Economic Impact of the Fashion Industry,” Feb. 6, 2015. Joint Economic Committee, United States Congress.
3 United States Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, Office of Textiles and Apparel. Dollars are in nominal terms.
4 "Los Angeles and Its Booming Creative Class Lures New Yorkers," May 1, 2015. The New York Times.
5 “Los Angeles is largest manufacturing center in U.S., government says,” September 1, 2014. Los Angeles Times.
6 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
7 “The world's top 10 fashion schools for undergraduates – in pictures”, The Guardian. 

Real Estate and Construction

Real Estate

  • In August 2015, the Manhattan Class A direct vacancy rate remained at 8.4% from one month prior, and the average rental rate also remained at $76 PSF. 
  • Direct vacancy rates in Midtown went unchanged between July and August 2015, while the direct rental rate rose by $1 PSF. In Downtown, the direct vacancy rate rose to 12.3% while direct average rents remained the same over the period.
  • The Manhattan sublease vacancy rate fell from 1.6% in July 2015 to 1.4% in August, while the corresponding rental rate remaining at $65 PSF.


For the twelve months ending July 2015:

  • The number of building projects (including new, additions, and alterations) that started construction in New York City was up 1.6% relative to the twelve month period ending July 2014. Planned space for such projects was 87.0% higher than the same period in 2014, suggesting that building projects have become larger. The value associated with these projects was up 93.3% over the period.
  • 3,430 residential building projects began construction, a 6.2% increase from the twelve months ending in July 2014. These starts contained 47,150 units, an increase of 81.1% 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 July 2015 was 227.5 million, an increase of 0.05% from July 2014.
  • Subway ridership in July 2015 was 148.0 million, up 1.03% from July 2014.

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Air Traffic

  • In June 2015, 11.1 million passengers flew into and out of the region's airports, an increase of 4.9% from June 2014.
  • Domestic air carriers accounted for 7.1 million passengers, a 5.8% increase from June 2014. 
  • 4.0 million passengers traveled with international air carriers in June 2015, a 3.3% increase from June 2014.

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Broadway Ticket Sales

  • Total Broadway attendance was approximately 889,840 during the four weeks ending August 30, 2015, down 1.2% from the same period last year.
  • Broadway revenues during this period were about $95.6 million, down by 1.2% 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, proving essentially unchanged 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.