Bill de Blasio’s ‘New’ Jobs Plan Isn’t So New After All

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference where he unveiled a new, $500 million life sciences initiative.

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference where he unveiled a new, $500 million life sciences initiative. Madina Toure/Observer

Nearly everyone noticed the lack of detail in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City proposal to create 100,000 “good-paying jobs”—and it appears that’s because it’s simply an extension of what the city’s mayoral-controlled Economic Development Corporation has done for the past 15 years.

The jobs proposal was the centerpiece of the State of the City address de Blasio delivered at the Apollo Theater in Harlem last Monday night. De Blasio vowed his policies would produce 100,000 positions over 10 years in a variety of sectors throughout the city, with salaries ranging anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 a year or more.

The mayor promised work in film and TV, technology, life sciences and “advanced manufacturing,” though declined to offer much in the way of an explanation of how the city would generate these jobs.

“This new addition, this new focus on creating more and more good-paying jobs, this will be the new frontline in keeping New York City affordable,” he said.

For the mayor’s emphasis on what a “new” and ambitious undertaking this is, a 2016 report from the New York City Industrial Development Agency, a public benefit corporation that the EDC runs, credited its combination of tax incentives and bond financing with the creation and preservation of approximately 146,000 jobs since 2002. That would average roughly 10,428 jobs a year.

This would suggest that the mayor’s plan for 100,000 jobs between Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2028 is merely a projection of a pattern of growth the IDA and EDC established over the past decade and a half.

An EDC spokesman confessed that the mayor’s jobs proposal will rely heavily on the same toolkit of subsidies and tax relief that the IDA has utilized for years. The key difference, the entity insisted, will be that de Blasio’s program will emphasize higher salaries at each position.

“Mayor de Blasio is applying traditional job generating tools and focusing them specifically on quality jobs that pay middle-income wages or provide a career pathway to the middle class,” Anthony Hogrebe, senior vice president for public affairs at the EDC, said in an emailed statement. “The job numbers and previous investments cited in the IDA report don’t reflect those same targeted job-quality goals.”‎

The mayor pledged in his speech to wring 10,000 new jobs from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and to create an additional 1,500 jobs in the borough by transforming a city-owned property in Sunset Park into a “Made in New York campus” for fashion manufacturing. EDC President James Patchett appeared to admit at a press conference last week that a certain percentage of the companies and and positions at the latter location will have migrated from Manhattan’s shrinking Garment District.

The mayor’s office claimed in a fact sheet released before the State of the City address that the mayor’s longstanding plan to retrofit buildings across the city for improved energy efficiency would yield 30,000 jobs. Yet the mayor asserted at the press conference on Tuesday that the initiative would create a tenth that much work.

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