Not making it
The good news is that New York City is still, in some sense, a land of opportunity. There are jobs to be had here—New York lost fewer jobs than any other city during the recession and the employment growth has been steady these last few years. The bad news is that many of those jobs are scarcely worth having—yielding less than $27,000 a year, which isn’t really enough to live in on New York.
While rents have continued their relentless climb (ever skyward!) wages for low- and middle-income New Yorkers have not followed suit. Moreover, the disparity between pay and the cost of living in our metropolis is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon given that a significant proportion of job growth has been in low-paying occupations, according to a new study from the Center for an Urban Future.
The rent is too damn high
The Bloomberg administration has a mixed record on affordable housing. It was one of the Mayor’s signature initiatives when he took office, but the market has subtracted units faster than he has added them and across the city, the percentage of income that New Yorkers spend on rent—an apartment is considered ‘affordable’ if it consumes less than 30 percent of its inhabitants’ annual income—has risen sharply.
But perhaps new evidence that the high cost of housing and income inequality impede economic growth might make Mayor Bloomberg, or at least his successor, take note.
Last year, The Observer reported that relatively new (he was nine months in) M.T.A. chief Jay Walder and his wife had bought on the Upper West Side near five subway lines. The couple paid $1.599 million for a condo with three bedrooms, a lot of natural light, a big master suite with double sinks, and a walk-in closet. It was the sort of apartment a New Yorker could settle into for the long haul.
Now, though, with Mr. Walder decamping for Hong Kong, what of it? We don’t know yet. But we do know that he might find $1.599 million a steal for a nice three-bedroom in his next city.