Public opinion confirms what census data revealed — Many New Yorkers have yet to benefit from economic recovery

Digital Briefs

November 19, 2015

The New York Times and Siena College released results of a poll today highlighting the significant disparities in economic conditions experienced in New York City. These facts echo CCC’s recent analysis of 2014 Census data which showed that signs of economic recovery in New York City have leveled off with child poverty rates and median incomes for families stagnating, and the cost of living continuing to increase. 

According to the Times article, 36% of Bronx residents reported that there had been times in the past year when they did not have the money to buy enough food for their family and only one in five said they and their neighbors had good or excellent access to suitable jobs. This is contrast to 58% of Manhattan residents who reported that they were financially “doing alright or thriving”.

The most recent Census data – which is available on CCC’s Keeping Track Online database – show that Bronx residents face a higher poverty rate of 31.6% than in other boroughs. The median income for families in the Bronx is approximately 60% lower than the median income for families in Manhattan. Bronx residents are also more likely to experience a high rent burden with 1 in 3 renter households (33.7%) spending more than half of their household income on rent, compared to 1 in 5 (20.8%) renter households in Manhattan. In addition, at 11.9% the current Bronx unemployment rate is higher than the peak unemployment rate experienced by Manhattan (9.7%), Queens (11.1%), Staten Island (9.1%) during the recession (2008-2010), and only slightly lower than the peak unemployment in Brooklyn (12%) during the same time period.

The article also points out that “an atmosphere of economic anxiety pervades all areas of the city” with more than half of New Yorkers citywide reporting that they were just making ends meet or finding it difficult to do so. Specifically, the article states that poll numbers revealed close to three quarters of households earning under $50,000 are facing financial challenges. This makes sense, as Census data show that 47.3% of New York City residents and 43.9% of New York City families earn less than $50,000 a year. Also, over 1 in 4 (28.6%) of renter households report spending more than half of their income on rent, according to the Census.

One key finding from CCC’s analysis in October was that New York City’s teenagers continue to experience disproportionately high levels of unemployment, with more than one-third seeking employment in 2014 unable to find work. The recent poll similarly shows troubling signs of instability for youth with only six in ten Bronx residents reporting that it is likely a young person in their community would graduate from high school and one young person from the Bronx quoted that there were fewer opportunities for her peers to improve their lives there, “compared to other neighborhoods.” CCC’s Keeping Track data show that the graduation rate in the Bronx is 54.7%, lowest among all boroughs and nearly a full 10 percentage points behind the next borough Brooklyn (63.8%), and at 9.2% teen idleness, the share of teens ages 16-19 that are neither enrolled in school or engaged in the labor force, in the Bronx is highest among all boroughs.

Importantly, although public perception of economic opportunity, and Census data, paint a dire picture for the prospects of Bronx residents, residents themselves continue to express resiliency and hope, with over 1 in 3 (36%) of Bronx residents reporting that their neighborhood was getting better. CCC shares in this optimism as we continue to work to make sure that all New York City children and their families are given the help and support needed to thrive and that government at the state, local and federal level responds to their needs.

You can explore this data and many more indicators related to well-being of children and families in New York City on Keeping Track Online.

You can help us advocate for NYC’s children and families by joining our e-action network.


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