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New York’s nightlife industry outpaces rest of local economy

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Nightlife wages are growing twice as fast as overall city wages

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The city has commissioned its first-ever economic impact study of New York nightlife, and the findings will surprise no one who’s been on the Lower East Side on a Saturday night.

The study found that New York’s nightlife economy is growing faster than other sectors of the local economy. Nightlife-related jobs and wages grew at an annual rate of five to eight percent from 2011 to 2016, compared to three to four percent in the city overall. Put another way, nightlife jobs grew at a rate of five percent each year between 2011 and 2016 compared with three percent in the city overall, and nightlife wages are rising at double the clip of overall city wages at eight percent, compared to four percent.

New York’s nightlife economy comprises food service, bars, arts, venues, and sports and recreation occurring between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. In 2017, the city established its first-ever Office of Nightlife to function as a liaison between local government and the nightlife industry when it comes to regulation, policy, and procedures. The move has paid off in other global cities like London and Paris, which have seen a reduction in noise violations and improved quality of life—outcomes New York’s so-called night mayor, longtime East Village resident Ariel Palitz, will seek to affect.

“We have long known that nightlife is a fundamental part of New York City’s culture and identity. Now we can also measure exactly how vital it is to our economy,” said Palitz, whose official title is senior executive director of the Office of Nightlife. “Nightlife is thriving in the five boroughs, as New Yorkers find places to come together, to let go, and to celebrate life. We are excited to use the valuable insight provided in this study as well as our recent listening tour as we pursue policies and programs to help nightlife thrive.”

In 2016 alone, the five subsectors that account for nightlife were responsible for the direct economic impact of 196,000 jobs, $7.4 billion in employee pay, and $19.1 billion in economic output. The goods and services purchased for and aiding the nightlife industry accounted for an additional 48,000 jobs, $2.3 billion in wages, and $6 billion in economic output.

The booming nightlife industry also contributed to growth in adjacent industries, like taxi and for-hire-vehicle use. The study found that 32 percent of all taxi and FHV use is nightlife related, and use occurring between the prime nightlife hours of 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. grew 12 percent annually between 2013 and 2017.

Manhattan contributes the most to the nightlife sector, with 128,000 direct jobs and $4.8 billion of wages accounted for in the borough. Staten Island had the least raucous nightlife economy, contributing 3,900 direct nightlife jobs and $64 million in wages.