Two years into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year campaign to create 100,000 jobs that pay at least $50,000 a year, city economic development officials said their efforts have led to 3,000 such positions.
Testifying Monday before the City Council, James Patchett, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said his team has received commitments from businesses and nonprofits to create thousands of these "good-paying jobs" in the near future, when the city rezones areas, authorizes tax abatements to support apprenticeships and takes other steps to bolster employment. He said EDC projects 19,000 jobs will come from the initiative, called New York Works, in which the city has invested $300 million so far.
"As we take specific actions, we will have specific jobs," Patchett said.
City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Investigation, sought a more detailed picture of how EDC anticipated hitting the 100,000 job target and more demographic info on which New Yorkers were securing jobs under New York Works.
"Anyone who heard the mayor’s State of the City and came away believing that the 100,000 jobs are actual jobs or would be actual jobs in ten years — anyone who believes that is operating under a false impression," Torres said.
Patchett said EDC cannot accurately track whether jobs go to low-income New Yorkers. For instance, he described rezonings as employment strategies that left hiring decisions up to individual employers. But Patchett said EDC knew low-income people were hired when the Brooklyn Navy Yard launched "Local Bites," which provides space for graduates of NYCHA’s food business training program to promote and sell items for two months at a time.
Torres questioned some of the city’s methodology. For example, EDC counts positions toward its 100,000 goal even if the jobs go to people who live outside the city, according to Patchett.
The tense exchange continued when Torres asked Patchett whether EDC had anticipated counting the jobs Amazon would have stationed in Long Island City, provided the tech company followed through on its planned campus there. Torres noted that the average annual salary of those jobs was expected to be $150,000.
"Do you think jobs that offer more than $100,000 are more accessible to lower-income New Yorkers?" Torres asked.
"I think we missed a historic opportunity to bring those jobs to New York City and to get those jobs to people who represent all those sectors," Patchett responded, noting that EDC had anticipated Amazon’s hiring bolstering the success of New York Works.
Patchett said EDC should have more details about New York Works in June when it plans to issue an annual report on the initiative.