Where New York City municipal workers choose to live reflects a near-universal dilemma: what can we afford? The answer: working and middle class neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. According to data we obtained from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the largest concentrations of municipal workers reside in Canarsie, Brownsville / East New York, and Southern Queens.
"It's becoming increasingly difficult to have a city salary and afford to be in the five boroughs," says Jonathan Bowles, the executive director for the Center for an Urban Future. "Like lots of other middle class people in America, they want a mix of affordable space and good schools."
Bowles says the maps show that a disproportionate share of government workers are concentrated in predominantly black neighborhoods.
"You can see a swath in Central Brooklyn—Bed-Stuy, East New York, Flatbush, and very high concentrations in Southeastern Queens; St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Laurelton."
The Canarsie zip code of 11236 held the highest number of city employees, at 2,194. According to the 2010 census, Canarsie saw a 20% increase in its native-born black population since 2000.
A study released at the end of 2013 by the Independent Budget Office showed that while blacks make up 22% of the city's population, they account for 32% of all city employees.
The IBO study showed that the middle 50% of the city's workforce earned between $42,958 and $78,885, during FY 2012, the most recent year available. The median annual base salary was $65,299, significantly higher than the citywide median of $34,019, which dropped from $37,091 in 2005. TLC employees and NYCHA workers have the lowest median salaries at around $39,000 and $40,000 respectively.
The second-highest concentration of city employees by zip code was 10314, located on the northwestern portion of Staten Island, where 2,045 city workers reside. That area is overwhelmingly white.
"That's long been seen as a place for government workers to live," Bowles says. "Police, Sanitation, other government workers have gone there because its been a fairly affordable place to buy a home on a government salary, with decent schools and safe neighborhoods."
Bowles speculated that the high concentration of city employees in Lower Manhattan's 10038 was due to public housing and Mitchell-Llama buildings in the Two Bridges area, as well as workers who want to be close to City Hall or their agency's headquarters.
The zip codes and counties of the 193,715 city employees provided by DCAS does not include Health and Hospitals Corporation employees, those who work for authorities and entities created under state law (NYCTA, CUNY, etc), and teachers, though the data does include other Department of Education employees. Teachers (there are roughly 70,000 of them) are treated differently under the civil service law, and the IBO released a report last August on where they reside. While 77.8% of all city employees live in the five boroughs, only 67% of teachers choose to do so.
All 50,736 NYPD employees were listed as living under the zip code 10038, the home zip code for NYPD headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. We were told this was a security measure. Those employees have been removed from that zip code on the map, though they are accurately reflected by county. We were also told that breaking down the numbers by agency wouldn't be feasible.
By county, of the nearly 200,000 city employees we received data for,
- 25% live in Brooklyn
- 20% in Queens
- 13% in the Bronx
- 8.7% in Staten Island
- 9.4% in Manhattan
- 7.3% in Nassau County
According to DCAS, those who list an address in Texas, Maine, Washington State, or other far-flung regions are likely seasonal parks workers, lifeguards, interns, or those working in the Public Service Corps.