Is Brooklyn Leading New York City Out of the Pandemic?


Brooklyn, meanwhile, was poised to benefit from the shutdown of Manhattan’s office districts. The borough, which has the largest share of college-educated residents outside of Manhattan, became a popular destination for Manhattan residents seeking bigger apartments. Commuters to Manhattan were now working and shopping closer to home, boosting local businesses.

Whether these shifts prove to be lasting — and whether larger employers will start to relocate to Brooklyn — is a key question. Manhattan is home to less than 20 percent of New York City’s residents but accounts for at least half of the city’s tax revenues, according to estimates provided by the New York State comptroller’s office. Even as Manhattan’s share of the city’s property and sales taxes dipped during the pandemic, economists say that business activity in the other boroughs is unlikely to overtake Manhattan any time soon.

But already, the new era of hybrid work has prompted some smaller employers to open offices in Brooklyn, which could have broad ripple effects for neighborhoods across the city’s most populous borough. Brooklyn added more than 230,000 new residents in the past decade, according to 2020 census data released last month, the fastest population growth of any borough.

During the pandemic, Josh Miller made more than a dozen new hires for his start-up, the Browser Company, which is seeking to create a new web browser. He noticed that most of his New York City employees lived in Brooklyn.

After polling his staff members, Mr. Miller decided to relocate his office from NoLIta in Lower Manhattan — which had been an easy area for him to meet with investors and other tech founders — to Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg neighborhood. The company, which has 23 employees, moved in July, and working from the office will not be mandatory.

“Brooklyn went from being an option you wouldn’t consider because of how inconvenient it was to the most convenient,” Mr. Miller said.

Economists say that the pandemic could accelerate a trend that started after the 2008 recession, when job growth in New York City began to be driven by the boroughs outside Manhattan. In the past decade, according to the New York State comptroller’s office, Brooklyn has been the biggest generator of new jobs in the city.


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