A new study says Brooklyn's red-hot economy is growing faster than the economies of the city and state, and that the explosive growth offers an opportunity to reduce income inequality in the borough. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez got an advance copy and filed this exclusive report.
The first-ever economic analysis by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is packed with good news about the borough. Brooklyn is outpacing the rest of New York in job creation, adding more than 30 thousand jobs last year - the biggest increase in more than a decade. It is also leading in population gains, increasing one percent a year since 2006.
"We continue to grow,” said Carlo Scissura, president of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “In a few years, if we were an independent city, we would be the third largest city in America; no longer the fourth. It would be New York, L.A. and Brooklyn. Chicago is falling."
One reason for the economic boom - the report says Brooklyn-made products are in high demand in foreign markets. Then there is the tourism and entertainment industry, growing more than twice as fast in Brooklyn than statewide.
Brooklyn's hotel boom is even expanding to troubled neighborhoods like Brownsville. La Quinta Inn opened on Pitkin Avenue and a Holiday Inn Express is rising blocks away.
"The critical part of that is we must all ensure that the jobs are going to people who need it,” Scissura said. “So we're excited when we hear Central Brooklyn residents getting jobs in the hospitality industry because they're good jobs and you can grow from there."
The new study shows the workforce is young, with a growing percentage in the prime 25 to 54 age group. In addition, that workforce is considered well educated. The borough has become "very attractive" to highly educated migrants from abroad with advanced degrees.
Yet there are glaring disparities. Poverty is high and about 23 percent of the residents are considered poor. The unemployment rate is higher than it is citywide.
"The report clearly shows there's a huge gap,” Scissura said. “We cannot be a great borough and a great city if we have just a group of people with PhDs and JDs and MBAs and then a group of people that haven't even finished high school."
The chamber says Brooklyn's rapid economic growth represents an opportunity to reduce poverty and inequality across the borough.