The CoViD-19 pandemic hit the South Bronx especially hard, but the area’s economy has shown resiliency, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“The South Bronx was hard hit by the CoViD-19 pandemic but was resilient because of dedicated and hardworking neighborhood groups and advocates, and the strength of its residents,” said DiNapoli. “Still, the need for more affordable housing, jobs and quality of life improvements remains pivotal to the community’s long-term success.”
Despite the impact of the pandemic, jobs and businesses grew faster in the South Bronx than the rest of the borough and city. This was due in part to community-led investments through the pandemic, stemming from the city’s public-private partnerships to develop commercial, housing and cultural projects. From 2011 to 2022, the South Bronx saw a 25% and 20% increase in jobs and businesses, respectively, led by the health care and social assistance sector. While the area lost 7.7% (6,150) of jobs gained the decade prior due to CoViD-19, the South Bronx added 4,679 jobs in 2022, while new businesses saw an uptick. Federal pandemic assistance helped many South Bronx businesses stay afloat, and in 2022, the area had 78,476 private sector jobs, which accounted for almost one-third of jobs boroughwide.
“Though the South Bronx was negatively impacted by the CoViD-19 pandemic, thanks to the creative solutions of neighborhood groups, federal pandemic assistance, and the resiliency of our community, we were able to weather the worst of the storm together,” said New York City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca. “As we now come out of this post-pandemic economy, the need for greater economic stimulation has only risen. Better paying jobs, truly affordable housing, reduction of high crime rates, and quality healthcare must be addressed to truly provide Bronxites a share in an equitable economy. I thank Comptroller DiNapoli for the leadership he has taken on this issue, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to provide a better quality of life for all South Bronx residents.”
“The Comptroller`s report highlights exactly what we know to be true – that the Bronx is resilient and that our residents and small businesses are creating the blueprint for promoting economic growth and prosperity in our city,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “Despite the South Bronx being one of the neighborhoods in our borough hardest hit by CoViD-19, we are seeing this community rebound as a result of public-private investment that has helped to keep our mom-and-pop stores open, provide safe and quality housing for our residents, and decrease historic poverty levels that for years have prevented Bronxites from achieving the American dream. The data from this report is promising and is a beacon of hope for our borough. But for us in the Bronx, this is the floor and not the ceiling. In partnership with our Bronx Economic Development Corporation, colleagues in government, nonprofits, and private partners, we will continue to fight for economic justice and equity in our borough.”
“In the face of the CoViD-19 storm, the South Bronx stood resilient, fortified by the dedication of neighborhood groups and advocates, like the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, specifically the Small Business Resource Network Program, and the unwavering strength of its residents,” said Lisa Sorin, President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “Amidst the challenges, the community’s growth, both in jobs and businesses, became a testament to the power of collective efforts and strategic investments, showcasing the transformative impact of public-private partnerships and community-driven initiatives. As we celebrate their success, it is vital that we continue to invest in programs that help them grow and thrive.”
“During the early days of the CoViD-19 pandemic, business declined more than 30% at Hunts Point Produce Market, a South Bronx staple,” said Phillip Grant, CEO of the Hunts Point Produce Market. “Despite these initial setbacks, the market proved its resilience and ability to withstand economic shocks,” says Phillip Grant, CEO of the Hunts Point Produce Market. “As an essential business, we remained open and fully staffed during the worst of the pandemic, providing the New York region with an uninterrupted supply of fresh fruit and vegetables amid global shortages. Of the market’s 2,000 workers, 65% were Bronx-based. The market is proud to serve as one of the borough’s economic engines and looks forward to supporting its dynamic growth, particularly once our $650 million-dollar total renovation is completed.”
“The South Bronx’s remarkable resilience and economic progress, as detailed in Comptroller DiNapoli’s report, are sources of great pride and inspiration,” said New York State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. “This is a powerful testament to the indomitable spirit of the community, and the efficacy of our collective efforts during trying times. Despite the severe challenges posed by the pandemic, the South Bronx has not only recovered but has set a shining example of growth and tenacity. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to every member of this community, every local business, and all the dedicated organizations that have played a pivotal role in this journey. Your hard work and perseverance have turned challenges into opportunities for development and prosperity. This success story reaffirms our commitment to continue working collaboratively, supporting the economic and social wellbeing of our communities. Let’s use this momentum to further address the critical issues of affordable housing, healthcare access, and educational opportunities. Together, we can build a brighter, more equitable future for the South Bronx and beyond.”
“The South Bronx is resilient, just like its people. Regardless of the challenges faced by residents, businesses, and community organizations, the community consistently bounces back, pushing itself forward,” said Diana Ayala, Deputy Speaker of the New York City Council. “Confronting adversity head-on is deeply ingrained in the essence of these neighborhoods. Despite the South Bronx showcasing resilience and progress in the wake of the pandemic, it remains imperative for elected officials to join forces and ensure that the flickering flame of growth is carefully nurtured. This calls for investments in affordable housing, the creation of higher-paying job opportunities, and the establishment of a ladder for our residents to ascend the socio-economic ranks within the vibrant economic landscape that is New York City.”
“In the face of adversity, the Bronx continues to prove its resilience despite the historical systematic barriers by weathering the storm of the CoViD-19 pandemic,” said New York City Councilmember Althea Stevens. “The recent report from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli affirms what we’ve known all along – our community is strong, driven by the dedication of neighborhood groups, hardworking advocates, and the unwavering strength of our residents. The support provided by federal pandemic assistance has been crucial in helping many businesses in the South Bronx stay afloat during these challenging times. As the community is grateful for this assistance, we must remain proactive in addressing the evolving needs of our communities. Together, we can build a resilient and thriving community that benefits all.”
The South Bronx also saw the median household income rise 30.9%, poverty decline 3.4%, and more people move to the area from 2011 to 2021. According to most economic indicators, the area’s economy has proven more resilient than the borough as a whole following the worst waves of CoViD-19. Still the South Bronx has a higher overall poverty rate (36.3%), a lower median household income ($32,381) and fewer adults who graduate from college (14%) when compared to the borough and city. The pandemic further shined light on systemic health, socioeconomic, and environmental disparities in the area.
Looking ahead, DiNapoli points out that more needs to be done to address the community’s concerns on crime, affordable housing, physical and mental health care, and quality of life. DiNapoli encourages continued engagement by elected officials to drive investment in the development and revitalization of the South Bronx, warning its economic recovery could otherwise stall.
This is Comptroller DiNapoli’s 28th economic snapshot report. These reports track economic conditions and fiscal health of various boroughs and neighborhoods in the city. Following the pandemic, DiNapoli focused on the hardest hit areas to help promote their recovery. The South Bronx economic snapshot includes additional analysis on the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center and follows the Comptroller’s Bronx reports from June 2021 and July 2018.