Queens, NY Economic Overview
Queens is the easternmost and largest by area of the five boroughs that make up New York City. The borough spreads 109 square miles and is situated adjacent to Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island and shares water borders with Manhattan and the Bronx. The borough is the second-most populous county in the state of New York, behind Brooklyn, with over 2.34 million residents. Queens is also one of the most ethnically diverse urban areas of the world, with nearly 48% of the population foreign-born. Home to both the JFK International Airport and La Guardia Airport, Queens maintains one of the busiest airspaces in all of America, attracting visitors and businesses from all over the world. Queens commercial real estate is uniquely situated near diverse housing, ranging from high-rise apartment buildings to urban areas of western and central Queens, and famous attractions, including Citi Field (home to the New York Mets baseball team), the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Silvercup Studios.
Queens’ major neighborhoods and economic centers include Long Island City as a major manufacturing and back office center, Flushing as a major commercial hub for Chinese American and Korean American businesses, and Jamaica as a major civic and transportation hub for the borough.
Queens, NY Commercial Real Estate Market
The Queens commercial scene is constantly shifting and changing face, with huge renovations underway to transform what is largely considered New York’s least distinguished skyline. The most commercially-concentrated neighborhoods in Queens include Flushing, Murray Hill and Whitestone (9,000 businesses), Sunnyside & Woodside (5,500 businesses), and Astoria & Long Island City (4,100 businesses). With adventurous art, international cuisine, gorgeous parks, and world-class sporting events, Queens features venues, spaces, and attractions to satisfy every commercial need and taste. Forest Hills and Bayside are also popular areas in the borough.
Long Island City, once an epicenter of manufacturing, is now home to one of the City’s most exciting art scenes. The Long Island City office market is dotted with late 19th and early 20th century industrial buildings that have been transformed into galleries, museums and studios, and a fast-growing list of must-visit restaurants, shops, and performance venues.
Flushing is home to Citi Field, as well as the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Championships. The Flushing office market is conveniently located nearby the Flushing Meadows Corona Park and iconic Unisphere—built for the 1964 World’s Fair and now hosts many New York international events. Flushing is also home to one of the largest Chinese populations and a range of shops with ethnic food and cultural items.
Jamaica is best known as a transportation center connecting parts of NYC to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The Jamaica office market has less expensive rates compared to the rest of Queens and New York City, with most spaces averaging 750 square feet. The neighborhood also features the 200-year-old King Manor Museum, a National Historic Landmark.
Queens, NY Commercial Inventory Breakdown
Total: 30,461,688 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 5,199,042 SF / 17.07% of total office
- 100k to 500k SF: 14,034,728 SF / 46.07% of total office
- 500k to 1M SF: 5,188,208 SF / 17.03% of total office
- > 1M SF: 6,039,710 SF / 19.83% of total office
- Class A: 12,134,406 SF / 39.83% of total office
- Class B: 10,592,793 SF / 34.77% of total office
- Class C: 1,074,990 SF / 3.53% of total office
Total: 30,816,191 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 9,540,324 SF / 30.96% of total industrial
- 100k to 500k SF: 19,573,477 SF / 63.52% of total industrial
- 500k to 1M SF: 588,390 SF / 1.91% of total industrial
- > 1M SF: 1,114,000 SF / 3.61% of total industrial
- Class A: 6,242,946 SF / 20.26% of total industrial
- Class B: 16,537,115 SF / 53.66% of total industrial
- Class C: 7,751,996 SF / 25.16% of total industrial
Office Spaces with Retail
Total: 14,566,563 SF
By square footage range:
- 50k to 100k SF: 3,742,221 SF / 25.69% of total office with retail
- 100k to 500k SF: 6,030,785 SF / 41.4% of total office with retail
- 500k to 1M SF: 2,134,483 SF / 14.65% of total office with retail
- > 1M SF: 2,659,074 SF / 18.25% of total office with retail
Employment in Queens, NY
The total New York City labor force is just over 9.65 million people. In 2014, the private sector in Queens employed 517,240 people, representing 15.1% of the City’s total private employment. The Queens County unemployment rate is 3.8%, compared the New York average of 3.9%, and Brooklyn at 4.0%. From 2004 to 2014, private sector employment in Queens grew fastest in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (72.9%) and Accommodation and Food Services (49.6%). The industries employing the highest number of workers at the end of 2016 included Health Care and Social Assistance (130,000), Transportation and Warehousing (63,000), and Retail Trade (61,000).
Occupations in Queens include the healthcare, retail trade, manufacturing, construction, transportation, and film and television production sectors. Roughly 30% of employment is in the export-orientated industries, such as transportation, manufacturing, and business services. The airline industry is also particularly important to the economy of Queens, providing almost one quarter of employment. Retail also features prominently in the Queens economy, representing 11.8% of total private employment. Small businesses flourish throughout Queens with two thirds of all businesses employing between one and four people. Several large companies have their headquarters in Queens including watchmaker Bulova; piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons in Astoria; Glacéau, the makers of Vitamin Water; and JetBlue Airways, an airline based in Long Island City.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries in the New York statistical area with the highest employment numbers include:
- Education and Health Services—currently employs 2,031,000, growing at 3.4% per year
- Trade, Transport, and Utilities—currently employs 1,566,400, decreasing at 0.3% per year
- Professional & Business Services—currently employs 1,341,800, growing at 3.5% per year
Education in Queens, NY
Elementary and secondary school education in Queens is provided by a vast number of public and private institutions. Public schools in the borough are managed by the New York City Department of Education, the largest public-school system in the United States. Most private schools are affiliated to or identify themselves with the Roman Catholic or Jewish religious communities. Townsend Harris High School is a Queens public magnet high school for the humanities consistently ranked as among the top 100 high schools in the United States.
Higher education options located within Queens include Bramson ORT College, an undergraduate college in New York City operated by the American branch of the Jewish charity World ORT. La Guardia Community College, part of the University of New York (CUNY), known as “The World’s Community College” for its diverse international student body, has been name a National Institution of Excellence by the Policy Center on the First Year of College and one of the top three community colleges in the U.S. Other options include Queens College, Queensborough Community College, St. John’s University, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, and York College.
Commuting Time in Queens, NY
Queens plays a crucial important in international and interstate traffic, with two of the New York metro area’s three major airports located here. According to the 2010 Census, 36% of all Queens households did not own a car, with the citywide rate at 53%. Mass transit is a common use of transportation, with the neighborhood of Jamaica serving as the primary transit hub. The following options are available to locals and visitors wishing to commute through and within the borough:
- Queens is traversed by three trunk east-west highways: the Long Island Expressway (I-495), Grand Central Parkway, and the Belt Parkway.
- There are also several major north-south highways in Queens, including the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (I-278), the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678), the Clearview Expressway (I-295), and the Cross Island Parkway.
- Twelve NYC subway routes traverse Queens, serving 81 stations on seven main lines. The A, G, M, and J/Z routes connected Queens to Brooklyn without going through Manhattan; the F, M, N, R, and W trains connect Queens and Brooklyn via Manhattan
- A commuter train system, the Long Island Rail Road, operates 22 stations in Queens with service to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Jamaica station is a hub station where all the lines in the system but one (the Port Washington Branch) converge. This is the busiest commuter rail hub in the United States.
- About 100 local bus routes operate within Queens, and another 20 express routes shuttle commuters between Queens and Manhattan, under the MTA New York City Bus and MTA Bus brands.
- One year-round scheduled ferry service connects Queens and Manhattan. New York Water Taxi operates service across the East River from Hunters Point in Long Island City to Manhattan at 34th Street and south to Pier 11 at Wall Street.
- Queens is home to JFK International Airport, with 27.4 million international passengers in 2014—the busiest airport in the U.S. La Guardia Airport is located in Flushing, in northern Queens, on Flushing Bay.
Employees in Queens face a commute time of 42.7 minutes, which is longer than the national average of 24.8 minutes. The largest share of workers drives alone, followed by those who use transit and carpool.
- Total Population2,256,731
- Male Population(48.6 %) 1,096,826
- Female Population(51.4 %) 1,159,905
- Median Age40.00
- Average Household Income$84,501
- Median Household Income$75,281
- Median Income Under 25$48,772
- Median Income 25-44$77,700
- Median Income 45-64$82,818
- Median Income Over 65$49,350
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