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Brooklyn workers in crisis

The borough is bleeding jobs and personal income continues to fall, according to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s annual Labor Market Review.

On the plus side, the borough is seeing growth in some sectors traditionally hurt by the recession.

“The takeaway from the report is Brooklyn is like the rest of the city and nation in that there’s some jobs loss particularly in the sectors of finance, construction and manufacturing, but Brooklyn is unlike the nation and city in that we’re seeing job gains in professional services, accommodation, food services and design firms,” said Chamber of Commerce President Carl Hum.

As an economic snapshot, the report found that borough residents who worked in Manhattan lost roughly 25,000 of the 115,000 jobs in that borough.

Additionally, within the borough there were 444,050 private payroll jobs in 2008 as compared to 435,550 in 2009 for a net loss of 8,500 jobs or a 1.9 percent decrease.

At the same time, Brooklyn’s collective income fell 2.9 percent from $83.4 billion in 2008 compared to $81 billion in 2009.

While the borough’s resident labor force increased about 1.6 percent from 1.11 million in 2008 to 1.13 million in 2009, unemployment grew from 66,000 to 109,000 or 65.2 percent.

This translates to the overall unemployment rate in the borough growing from 5.9 percent in 2008 to 9.7 percent in 2009.

Of the total 8,500 jobs lost in the borough, about 6,000 came from the construction and manufacturing sector, 2,000 from the wholesale and retail sectors and another 1,000 from financial services.

The losses were offset by a gain of about 2,500 jobs in health care and social assistance, 500 in management of companies and 500 in educational services.

The report states, “The opening of new hotels in Brooklyn in recent years, together with the increase in new housing and the restaurant industry that have transformed several neighborhoods, are expected to combine to keep employment flat in the accommodation and food services sector in 2009, a sector that otherwise contracts in a downturn.”

Also seeing growth were jobs in architecture, design and management consulting businesses.

The study found that the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) or stimulus money continues to serve as a positive counter balance to the borough’s week economy.

This includes $122.5 million that the borough has received in transportation infrastructure projects.

Some of these projects include the rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Bridge ($47.2 million), the Coney Island Boardwalk reconstruction (($15 million), reconstruction of a portion of Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights ($6 million), and Flatbush Avenue streetscape improvements ($3.5 million).

Additionally, about $186 million was allocated to rehabilitate public housing around the borough including about $108 million to the Whitman-Ingersol Houses in Downtown Brooklyn.

“In summary, the federal stimulus funds are providing a substantial counter-weight to the unprecedented job losses and consumer spending cutbacks characterizing the current recession,” the report concluded.

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