New York City
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  1. 1. Source: US Bureau of the Census, decennial Census of Population.
  2. 2. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census of Population; land area data from the U.S. Census Bureau's geographic database (TIGER® database) for Census 2000.
  3. 3. Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2009 (1-year estimates)
  4. 4. Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2007-09 (3-year estimates)
  5. 5. Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2006-08 (3-year estimates)

Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island

New York City’s population reached a record 8.175 million, based on the 2010 Census—up 2.1 percent from 2000. While this reported pace of population growth was slower than in either of the past two decades, it matched the state-wide average. With 26,952 residents per square mile, New York City is the most densely populated major city in the United States. It is also substantially larger than even any metro area in the region. The city is exceptionally diverse—in terms of demographics, ethnicity, income, educational attainment, and on many other dimensions. Overall, New York City has somewhat higher educational attainment, substantially higher home (and land) values, and substantially lower homeownership rates, than the nation as a whole. More detail on these and other metrics are provided in the borough-by-borough profiles below.

New York City’s economy grew relatively briskly during the last economic expansion. Following the city’s 2001-03 economic downturn, the city’s economy expanded steadily for nearly five years. Job growth in the city was quite strong throughout this period and well above the nationwide pace in 2007. Even after the national economy slipped into recession in late 2007, New York City’s economy, as well as employment, continued to grow until April 2008. Over the next year and a half, New York City employment fell by roughly 140,000 or nearly 4 percent—a sharp drop to be sure, though not as steep as the nationwide decline of nearly 6½ percent. With the financial crisis as a major driver of the national recession, it is not surprising that job losses were particularly severe in the city’s key financial sector: employment in the securities industry (Wall Street) tumbled by 28,000 or 15 percent from January 2008 to the start of 2010. Perhaps more surprising was that these job losses—both on Wall Street and for the city overall—were not quite as sharp as during the 2001-03 downturn and not nearly as sharp as in the 1989-92 slump.

After bottoming in late 2009, New York City’s economy has expanded steadily since. Our Index of Coincident Economic Indicators—a rough proxy for economic activity that is used to gauge the timing and severity of economic cycles—declined by roughly 7 percent between April 2008 (the peak) and November 2009 (the trough). Since then, the index has rebounded steadily and strongly. One unusual aspect of the current economic recovery, in contrast with past ones, is that it was led by industries other than the securities industry (Wall Street), where employment has typically been a driving force in the local economy (see New York City's Economic Recovery).

There were some notable cross-currents within New York City during this last recession. As was the case in the 2001-03 downturn, job losses in 2008-09 were considerably steeper in Manhattan than in the other boroughs: Manhattan employment fell by an estimated 7 percent, compared with declines of roughly 4 percent in Queens, 2 percent in Staten Island, and 1 percent in Brooklyn. The Bronx did not see any significant decline in employment during the recession. However, this understates the true effect on these boroughs, as nearly half of all workers throughout the city commute to Manhattan1.

Manhattan (New York County)

Based on the 2010 Census, Manhattan is home to 1.59 million people, or nearly a fifth of the city's 8.2 million residents, but accounts for 2.3 million jobs, or roughly 60 percent of city employment. With 69,000 residents per square mile, Manhattan is the most densely populated county in the U.S. Between 2000-2010, its population grew by 3.2 percent—slightly more rapidly than the city’s as a whole but only about a third as fast as the nation’s. Manhattan has an above-average representation of minority groups: 16 percent of residents are Black (compared with 13 percent nationally), 25 percent are Hispanic (versus 16 percent nationally) and 11 percent are Asian (versus 5 percent for the U.S.).

Only one in four housing units are owner-occupied, well below the U.S. average and lower than in most of the other boroughs. A large majority of residents live in traditional apartment buildings (with 5 or more units), and virtually all new construction consists of large multi-family structures. Approximately three in four housing units are rental apartments; 18 percent are co-ops and just 6 percent are condominiums. There is a great deal of variance in rents, due not only to dramatic variations in income across neighborhoods, but also to differences between market-rate and rent-regulated apartments, the latter of which represent nearly two-thirds of all rental apartments.

In 2009 (the latest year available) Manhattan's median household income was roughly $69,000—moderately above the national and New York State averages and relatively high for an urban center. (Also, average household size is quite low in Manhattan, so per capita income is actually quite a bit above the national average.) In terms of educational attainment, an extraordinary 56 percent of adults hold a college degree. This is double the national average and up considerably from 49 percent in 2000. At the other end of the spectrum, however, 16 percent of adults did not complete high school, which is roughly on par with the state and national averages.

More than 85 percent of working residents commuted within Manhattan, based on the 2000 Census (latest data available), and about half of the remaining 15 percent worked in the outer boroughs. As noted earlier, Manhattan's industry base is dominated by services—or more aptly termed, "knowledge" industries—especially financial services, which accounts for roughly 19 percent of private-sector jobs and 40 percent of earnings. It is also a major center of a variety of service industries, such as publishing, communications (media), advertising, and legal services. Manufacturing is not much of a force, accounting for just 1 percent of private-sector jobs and an even smaller share of earnings. However, Manhattan (and the city as a whole) still retains a relatively large apparel (garment) industry, where the share of employment is about four times the national average, though fairly low in absolute terms.

Download the Manhattan Regional Snapshot, Q22015

The "Outer” Boroughs

New York City's "outer boroughs"—Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island—are home to close to 6½ million residents and an estimated 1.4 million jobs. Because 30 percent to 40 percent of working residents there commute to Manhattan, these boroughs are sometimes viewed as bedroom communities. Nevertheless, all four have a sizable industry base in absolute terms, with areas of specialization described in the respective boroughs' sections below. Moreover, many workers commute into these boroughs from outside the city: for example, as many residents of Nassau and Suffolk Counties work in Queens and Brooklyn as in Manhattan.

Brooklyn (Kings County)

Brooklyn is the most populous of the five boroughs—home to 2.5 million people in 2010. With more than 35,000 residents per square mile, it is the second most densely populated borough (after Manhattan), and likewise, the second densest county in the U.S. If the five boroughs were separate cities, Brooklyn would be the nation's third most populous. Between 2000 and 2010, its population grew by 1.6 percent—a bit less rapidly than the city and the state and well below the nationwide average.

Brooklyn has a fairly typical urban demographic profile, with an above-average representation of minority groups: 34 percent of the population is Black, including a sizable Caribbean population. Nearly one in five residents is Hispanic and 10 percent are Asian, including a large Chinese community. Well over a third of the population is foreign born.

Only about 30 percent of housing units are owner-occupied, well below the U.S. average but in line with other major urban centers, including New York City overall. Similarly, well over half of residents live in traditional apartment buildings (with 5 or more units), and another 35 percent are in two- to four-family homes.

In 2009, Brooklyn's median household income was roughly $43,000—14 percent below the U.S. average but, again, comparable to other urban centers. In terms of educational attainment, 28 percent of adults hold college degrees, compared to roughly one in four nationally.

Nearly 40 percent of working residents commuted to Manhattan, according to the 2000 Census. Still, Brooklyn does have a substantial industry base of its own-for example, substantially more people commuted from Long Island to Brooklyn than vice versa. Brooklyn's most important sector is health care, which represents 30 percent of all private-sector jobs. In addition, a number of major firms (especially in financial services), as well as the NYC Fire Department and other government agencies, house some of their operations at Metrotech Center—a multi-use complex of high-tech commercial buildings in downtown Brooklyn. Manufacturing accounts for just under 5 percent of private-sector jobs—well below the nationwide average—but the apparel industry’s share, though just under 1 percent, is four times the U.S. average.

Download the Brooklyn Regional Snapshot, Q22015


Queens is the second most populous of the five boroughs, with just over 2.2 million residents, based on the 2010 Census. It is only slightly behind Brooklyn in terms of population, but it is much less densely populated, with roughly 20,000 people per square mile. Its population was virtually unchanged from 2000 to 2010, but this follows a decade of robust growth (14%) in the 1990s. Queens has an unusual demographic profile, even by New York's standards. Blacks account for 19 percent of the population—higher than the U.S. average, but low for a major urban area. On the other hand, a striking 23 percent of residents are Asian—more than triple the national and statewide averages—and 28 percent are Hispanic.

While a majority of residents live in multi-family structures, a sizable proportion live in single-family homes, which account for 30 percent of the borough’s housing units. Moreover, another 32 percent of residences are in two- to four-family houses, as opposed to traditional apartment buildings. In terms of ownership, about half of all homes are owner occupied, concentrated in the eastern tier of the borough, and the other half are rental units, mainly closer to Manhattan.

In 2009, Queens' median household income was roughly $55,000—in line with the New York State average but above the U.S. average and quite high for an urban county. In terms of educational attainment, 28 percent of adults hold college degrees, close to the national average.

As in Brooklyn, nearly 40 percent of working residents commuted to Manhattan in 2000. Its economy is also closely linked with that of neighboring Nassau and Suffolk Counties (Long Island). Queens also has a substantial industry base, dominated by its two major airports: Kennedy and LaGuardia. Overall, the air transportation industry, combined with supporting services and ground transportation, accounts for a sizable 10 percent of private-sector jobs in the borough—nearly eight times the nationwide average. Queens also has a large concentration of jobs in education & health services, as well as real estate. As in Brooklyn, apparel manufacturing is relatively important, though small in absolute terms.

Download the Queens Regional Snapshot, Q22015


The Bronx is the second least populous of the five boroughs, with 1.4 million residents, based on the 2010 Census—slightly fewer than live in Manhattan. Between 2000 and 2010, its population grew by 3.9 percent, which is twice the rate for the city as a whole and second only to Staten Island. Its population density, 33,000 per square mile, is above the city-wide average and close to Brooklyn's.

Hispanics account for a remarkable 54 percent of the Bronx population, predominantly people of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. Blacks account for 36 percent of the population—a larger proportion than in any of the other boroughs.

Just one in five residences is owner-occupied—the lowest homeownership rate of any county in the U.S. A large majority of residences (87 percent) are in multi-family structures. In general, single-family and owner-occupied units are concentrated in the northern (e.g., Riverdale, Eastchester) and southeastern (e.g. Throgs Neck) parts of the borough, while the southern, western and central parts of the borough predominantly consist of multi-family rentals. The notable exception is Co-Op City, on the eastern edge of the Bronx, which comprises large apartment buildings.

In 2009, the Bronx had a median household income of just $34,000—the lowest of any borough and well below the statewide and national averages. In terms of educational attainment, only 17 percent of adults hold college degrees, again well below the U.S. average.

Health care and social assistance is by far the dominant industry, accounting for nearly 40 percent of private-sector employment and 42 percent of earnings. Having this strong and non-cyclical growth industry as a key local sector may help explain why the Bronx did not experience a decline in employment during this past recession. In 2000, an estimated 40 percent of its work force commuted to jobs in Manhattan-slightly higher than for the other boroughs.

Download the Bronx Regional Snapshot, Q22015

Staten Island (Richmond County)

Staten Island is, by far, the least populous of the five boroughs—with just 469,000 residents based on the 2010 Census—but also the most affluent. It is much less densely populated than the others, with just over 8,000 residents per square mile. Between 2000 and 2010, its population expanded by nearly 6 percent, making it the city’s fastest growing borough.

Staten Island's demographic profile is more similar to the nation's than the rest of the city's. Blacks account for 11 percent of the population, slightly below the US average, while Hispanics account for 17 percent—roughly on par with the U.S. Asians account for 8 percent of the population, which is above the national rate but low for the NYC area.

Most residents live in single-family structures, and the homeownership rate is 70 percent, which is moderately above the national average. In 2009, median household income was roughly $70,000—slightly higher than for Manhattan and far higher than in the other three boroughs. This is also well above the nationwide and New York State averages, and extraordinarily high for an urban center. In terms of educational attainment, 27 percent of adults hold college degrees, close to the national average.

Roughly 30 percent of working residents commuted to Manhattan in 2000—a lower proportion than for the other boroughs. However, 16 percent commuted to Brooklyn (which is more accessible by bus or car). Staten Island does not have as large an industry base as the other boroughs, but again, health care is a relatively important sector, accounting for nearly a third of private-sector jobs and a higher proportion of income. Also, water transportation accounts for a disproportionately large 1.6% of private-sector jobs (26 times the nationwide average) and 3% of total earnings.

Download the Staten Island Regional Snapshot, Q22015
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