By Naeisha Rose
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was at Queens Borough Hall last week and released a report that said the borough’s economy was experiencing an economic upswing.
“The Queens economy is booming,” said DiNapoli “Over the past decade Queens has seen a growing population and a rapid rise in jobs and in businesses and this is a historic time for the borough.”
Queens has a population of 2.4 million, which marks a 25 percent increase from 1980. Most of that was driven by immigration, according to DiNapoli. The immigrant population has doubled from 1980 and is nearly 1.1 million, or 47 percent of the borough.
The economic snapshot of the borough highlighted that its diversity and increase in private sector, health care, hospitality, retail and transportation jobs, especially in the aviation field, are responsible for its growth. Queens is also bringing in revenue from tourism.
“We have 190 countries and 200 languages represented here,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Our diversity here is our strength… and 69 percent of our small business owners are folks who were born in other places.”
In 2017, private sector employment was on pace to reach a record of 567,800 jobs, a 24 percent increase from 2009, according to the snapshot.
Health care, leisure and hospitality, business services and retail were responsible for more than two-thirds of the jobs, according to the report.
“We are only second to Manhattan in bringing tourists in to the city of New York, right here in the borough of Queens,” said Katz. “We brought in over $1 billion in tax revenue a year ago just because of our tourist industry.”
Queens has many famous cultural institutions that have attracted tourists, according to DiNapoli.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is home to the New York Mets baseball team, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the Queens Botanical Garden, the Queens Zoo and the Unisphere.
South Ozone Park has the Aqueduct Racetrack and Resorts World Casino, the only casino in New York.
Western Queens has the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image and MOMA PS1, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art.
The borough accounted for 58 percent of all transportation jobs in the city and 96 percent of air transportation jobs, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports employed 49,000 people, contributed $64.4 billion in economic activity, and $23 billion in wages to both New York and New Jersey in 2017.
The increasing appeal of Queens, however, has a few downsides.
Schools are overcrowded, there are transportation deserts and there is a lack of affordable housing, according to the comptroller.
“It’s imperative that we continue to fight for more schools, better access to transportation and an increase in affordable housing,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose