Oct. 24, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Jackson Heights has outperformed other New York City neighborhoods economically thanks to its large immigrant population, according to a new report released today.
Since the end of the 2009 recession, Jackson Heights has seen an influx of local businesses and employment and the area’s large, vibrant immigrant community is the driving force, according to a report by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
The Comptroller’s report is an economic snapshot of the greater Jackson Heights area, including Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and North Corona.
According to its findings, 660 businesses were added to the community from 2009 to 2018 for a total of 3,300 businesses. Many are small retail shops and restaurants that reflect the neighborhood’s diversity, with 88 percent having fewer than 10 employees.
Altogether businesses made more money as well. Taxable business sales increased by 72 percent since 2009 to reach $473 million in 2017. The area’s growth rate was faster than Queens– up 54 percent–and the city’s at 50 percent.
In addition, 4,000 private sector jobs were added to the local economy since 2009. Private sector employment increased 23 percent to 20,900. Two thirds of the jobs were added in retail, construction and leisure and hospitality, according to the report.
The unemployment rate for the greater Jackson Heights area fell to 4.2 percent in 2017 — lower than the borough-wide rate of 5.2 percent and the citywide rate of 6.4 percent. The household poverty rate also fell from 20 percent in 2010 to 13 percent in 2017 for the second-largest decline among the city’s 55 neighborhoods. The decline represents 15,200 fewer people in poverty.
“Jackson Heights’ diverse and dynamic immigrant community is the driving force behind the local economy that has seen growth in the number of businesses, jobs and household income,” DiNapoli said. “The Jackson Heights area is living proof of the positive economic and cultural benefits immigration brings to our communities.”
Many of the small business owners are immigrants who reside in the neighborhood. There were 102,300 immigrants, representing 60 percent of the area’s population, in 2017, much higher than the citywide percentage of 37 and the nationwide of 14 percent.
Immigrants also made up more than three-quarters of employed residents — the second highest share among the city’s 55 census-defined neighborhoods, according to the study
Jackson Heights’ largest immigrant groups are Ecuadorians, Dominicans, Mexicans, Bangladeshis, Colombians, Peruvians, Chinese and Indians. Of the area’s 12,650 self-employed residents, 90 percent were immigrants, higher than anywhere else in the city.
“Jackson Heights is showing the nation how a vibrant immigrant community strengthens our society, both culturally and economically,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “We must continue to invest in ourselves — our housing, our education, our health care, and our small businesses — to further uplift working-class and immigrant communities.”