Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


If it's a "lifestyle trend" and the New York Times has noticed it, it's done. That's why this article is so alarming. If the Times is taking notice, it must be so entrenched as to be nearly immovable.

As the pay and purchasing power of Manhattan residents have moved higher and higher, incomes in all four of the boroughs outside Manhattan have trailed inflation over the last few years, in a stark example of the increasing income disparity in New York City. In terms of wages, Manhattan families are doing better on average than those in the rest of the nation, while families in the four other boroughs are doing worse.
Real wages are one of the best indicators of how people are doing financially. Driving the buying power of these wages down, it appears, is inflation. There is also an absence of serious upward pressure on wages in most industries, especially those that employ the lowest earners. The number of both high- and low-wage jobs has grown, but there is little mobility between the two.
From 1996 to 2005, the real wages of Manhattan workers grew almost 40 percent, and grew 2.5 percent in Queens and Staten Island. They were flat in the Bronx and fell 1 percent in Brooklyn.
The Consumer Price Index rose 24 percent from 1996 to 2005 nationwide but grew 27.6 percent in every borough of New York. In the last three years, New Yorkers saw fuel prices rise 27 percent, while they grew 19 percent nationwide. And while the housing prices rose 8.4 percent nationwide, they went up 14.7 percent in New York. At the same time, benefits have decreased in many professions.

New York is the nation writ small: a severe and deepening economic divide between rich and poor, a disappearing middle class, hardening barriers to social mobility, and a political leader alternating between ignoring these problems and working hard to exacerbate them.


  • At 1:35 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah... though mightn't this trend be largely due to the fact that there is basically no affordable housing in Manhattan, so everybody below upper middle class has been pushed into the outer boroughs? So it's not that Manhattan families have done better as individuals, but that the poorer Manhattan families have been removed from the average, displaced to Brooklyn and Queens.

  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    The article is ambiguous--I thought they were talking about workers in Manhattan, not necessarily Manhattan residents, mainly because of this sentence:

    Workers who toil in Manhattan but who live in the four other boroughs may be earning more than those working in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx, Mr. Dolfman said, but their wages would not change the data, because by and large those earners tend not to have the highest-earning jobs in Manhattan.

    And why would real wages have dropped in the rest of the city if the majority of the change was created by middle class residents moving to the boroughs in search of more affordable housing?

    Also, if real wages have climbed 5.4 percent in three years in Manhattan, doesn't that mean that wages there are outpacing the increase in housing costs? All other things being equal, if it was just the increase in housing costs forcing out lower-income workers, shouldn't real wages stay about even?

    You know more about economics than I do, so I defer to your judgment here.


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