Damage Report: What the Recession Did to Jobs in Brooklyn

Home Brooklyn Life Damage Report: What the Recession Did to Jobs in Brooklyn

By Ivana Kottasová

source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, AP
source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, AP

The good news is, there are jobs in Brooklyn. The bad news is, not everyone can get them.

The economic crisis in the borough is not over. And for some it won’t be for a long time. The GDP and stock market indexes may be rising. But it is clear that Brooklyn’s job market suffered some irreparable damage.

More than 14,000 jobs vanished in the borough between 2008 and 2010. And according to economists’ predictions, many of them disappeared forever. Even though the recovery is helping to create new jobs, some industries are not likely to bounce back. In particular, finance, manufacturing and construction have been hurt severely.

The unemployment rate in Brooklyn rose from 4.7 percent in 2008 to 10.1 percent in January 2011, making it one of the hardest hit counties in New York State. The latest nationwide unemployment rate is 8.8 percent.

New jobs do exist—15,000 of them were created in education and health over the past three years in Brooklyn.

Because half of Brooklyn’s working population works outside the borough, the local economy is largely shaped by the situation in Manhattan. In 2008 alone, some 3,000 Brooklyn residents working on Wall Street lost their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the other hand, manufacturing, which had been in decline for years, lost 1,500 jobs in 2007—the year before the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a financial meltdown. Four thousand more manufacturing jobs have since been lost. Hugo Boss and Pfitzer, an institution in the borough for decades, both closed their Brooklyn plants.

Several big construction projects across the borough were either cancelled or slowed down, including Atlantic Yards, the city’s second biggest construction project after the World Trade Center rebuilding project. Some 3,500 construction workers lost their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The crisis has forced people to choose between changing careers and trying to cobble together several smaller jobs, says Adam Godson, the human resources manager of Local Job Network, a leading local jobs service website. He added that people with less experience might be more willing to switch careers and get re-trained than those with more years in the workforce.

“We’re also seeing people that want to stay in their careers doing more part-time and freelance work if they’re not able to find full-time work,’’ he said.“One of the unfortunate things we’ve encountered about recent college graduates is that some of them are so discouraged by the onslaught of bad job news that they’re not putting enough effort into their job search and are pursuing other options like graduate school or continuing to work their college job.”

So what are the most wanted professions in Brooklyn? The fastest growing occupations as predicted by the Labor Department are home health aids, nurses, retails salespersons, nurses and waitresses. The New York State Labor Department regularly publishes a list of “hot jobs.” The department’s economists see a boom for health related professions coming very soon. Nurses, home heath aids and personal care professional will be the most wanted. As the Brooklyn population ages, the demand for elderly care providers is rising. Among the top five growing professions in Brooklyn, three are health care related.

In addition, teachers, are getting hired in private schools across the borough. The department also predicts that as sales increase so too will hiring for sales clerks and customer representatives.

Of the 25 occupations with the greatest number of openings, only five require more than a high-school diploma. Most require short on-the-job training.

But there is still a great disparity in potential wages depending on a job seeker’s education.

The median entry-level salary for a registered nurse, who requires associate degree, is $50,000. But a starting salary for a retail salesperson is only $16,800.

“The ‘hot’ areas in employment right now are clearly in skilled work,” Godson said. “We see very high demand in information technology, health care and engineering in particular.” And what are the professions with the lowest chances to find a job?

It turns out that bakers can expect to compete for only 90 openings every year, according to New York department of Labor.

Chemists can anticipate only 20 job openings in the entire city. Shoe repairer experts—less than 10.

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