Construction workers build a structure near Queens Boulevard.//MTA Photo

Unemployment Rises, But Queens Maintains NYC’s Lowest Jobless Rate

By Victoria Merlino

When it comes to employment, Queens continues to outpace the other boroughs.

Queens County had the lowest unemployment rate of the five boroughs in June at 3.7 percent, according to recently released statistics from the New York State Department of Labor.  

Though the unemployment rate rose by 0.7 percent since May, it is down 0.3 percent from the same time last year, when unemployment was at 4 percent.

Queens County also maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. At 3.3 percent, Columbia County southeast of Albany has the lowest jobless rate.

Statewide, unemployment remained at 4.5 percent, its lowest level since the 2008 Recession. The number of unemployed New Yorkers overall fell from 437,000 to 430,500, the lowest number since 2007, according to the report.

The percentage still lagged behind the national rate, which was 4 percent.

Between June 2017 and June 2018, New York saw a massive gain of 48,000 jobs in educational and health services, and a decline of 3,400 manufacturing jobs.

The Bronx had the highest unemployment rate of the five boroughs at 5.7 percent.

The numbers come on the heels of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s recent announcement that the “Queens economy is booming.” In May, DiNapoli released an economic snapshot of Queens that illustrated the borough’s growth. According to the report, Queens’ private sector jobs have increased by 24 percent since 2009, new businesses have increased by 22 percent and the borough’s median income has reached $62,200, higher than the citywide median.

While the economic outlook may seems rosy, problems plague the borough and drive income inequality.

Rents remain astronomically high in some neighborhoods and workers struggle to keep pace with rising rent and property values.

The most recent county poverty U.S. Census Bureau report stated that in 2016, around 14.6 percent of Queens residents lived below the federal poverty line of $12,140 or less per year. According to DiNapoli’s report, the 2016 median rent in Queens was $1,452, a significant increase from $1,065 in 2006.

“As a resident of Queens and as an elected official that represents part of the borough, I recognize the victories and challenges that face our community,” said State Senator James Sanders, Jr.  (D-South Ozone Park) in a statement. “While economic development and increased job growth are welcome, we still face crippling high rents, school overcrowding and transportation deficiencies.”

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