THE BRONX — New Yorkers looking for a high-paying job outside of Manhattan should head to The Bronx.
Average wages in the borough are roughly $47,000, putting it at a slight edge over Queens, which has average wages of about $46,000, and far ahead of Staten Island and Brooklyn, which have average wages of about $42,000 and $40,000, respectively, according to 2013 data from the state Department of Labor.
Manhattan was in a league of its own, with average wages of about $102,000.
Jason Bram, a regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, acknowledged that the numbers appeared startling, especially given the struggles with poverty and unemployment that The Bronx has faced over the past few decades.
“You look at all these sorts of things, and it seems a little surprising that the wages tend to be higher than in most of the other boroughs,” he said.
He attributed the relatively strong salaries in The Bronx to robust job markets in high-paying industries like health care and wholesale food distribution.
The borough's average annual wages in wholesale distribution are roughly $63,000, according to Bram, and The Bronx has several jobs in that field thanks to places like the Fulton Fish Market and the Hunts Point Market.
“That industry is relatively concentrated in The Bronx, so it accounts for a larger share of employment in The Bronx,” he said, noting that it makes up 3 percent of jobs in the borough.
Hospitals account for roughly 11 percent of Bronx jobs, much higher than roughly 5 percent in Brooklyn and 4 percent in Queens, and employees in the industry make an average of about $70,000, according to Bram.
Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, described hospitals as the biggest employer in the borough and gave them the lion’s share of the credit for its comparatively high wages.
“Most of those happen to be union jobs, and they’re long-term, very safe jobs, and they tend to pay well,” she said. “So I am assuming that that’s most of it.”
William Dudley, president and CEO of the New York Fed, noted the borough's high wages in a speech at the recent Bronx Bankers Breakfast, where he assured listeners that the Yankees were not the only organization in the borough driving up salaries.
However, the team still has a strong impact, given that the average Bronx wage for people working in sports and the performing arts is about $414,000, which lifts overall average wages in The Bronx by about $1,000.
“Obviously, at least part of that is the Yankees,” Bram said.
He listed a number of factors that could explain why the borough continues to struggle with poverty despite its comparatively high wages, noting that many of its better-paying jobs could be filled by people who live outside of the borough.
The Bronx also still has a high unemployment rate at roughly 9 percent, greater than any other county in New York City.
However, Bram maintained that the economy in The Bronx had done well overall in the past decade and credited the borough's jobs in health care and wholesale food not only with helping it maintain good wages but also with helping it weather the recession fairly well.
“It’s seen strong economic growth over the last 10 years,” he said, “through the recession and recovery.”