New report finds New York City’s nightlife supports 299,000 jobs, $13.1 billion in employee compensation, and $35.1 billion in total economic output.
There are more than 25,000 nightlife establishments contributing $697 million in local tax revenue.
Nightlife related jobs and wages are growing faster than the rest of the city’s economy.
Food service is the backbone of NYC’s nightlife economy, responsible for the vast majority of jobs, employee compensation, and economic output.
NEW YORK– The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment today announced the results of the first-ever economic impact study of New York City’s world-renowned nightlife industry. The study found that across the five boroughs the sector supports 299,000 jobs, $13.1 billion in employee compensation, and $35.1 billion in total economic output. There are more than 25,000 nightlife establishments contributing $697 in local tax revenue.
The report – conducted by The North Highland Company, ESI Consult Solutions Inc., and Urbane Development – defines nightlife as activity occurring between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in five key subsectors – Food Service, Bars, Arts and Culture, Venues, and Sports and Recreation. The report found that the nightlife sector is growing faster than the rest of the local economy, with nightlife-related jobs and wages growing at annual rates of 5 and 8% respectively, as compared to 3 and 4% in the city overall.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded the role of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), to include NYC’s first-ever Office of Nightlife in September 2017, it cemented New York’s position as a leader in the growing global movement that recognizes nightlife’s social, cultural, and economic value. Other major cities around the world – including London, Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam – have established similar models leading to positive outcomes, such as reductions in noise complaints, improved quality of life, and stronger nighttime economies. MOME commissioned this landmark study to map the economic contributions and challenges of nightlife, information that will inform the work of the Nightlife Office as it designs policies and programs to strengthen and better manage this vital sector.
“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 Senior Executive Director of the Office of Nightlife, Ariel Palitz. “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.”
Drilling down into the numbers, the study found that in 2016, the five subsectors that comprise NYC nightlife were responsible for a direct economic impact of 196,000 jobs, $7.4 billion in employee compensation, and $19.1 billion in economic output. The goods and services locally purchased by nightlife establishments have an indirect impact in the NYC economy of 25,000 jobs, $1.8 billion in employee compensation, and $5.1 billion in economic output. The induced economic impact of nightlife, defined as the result of spending by those employed directly in the nightlife industry. This spending supported more than 29,000 jobs, $1.7 billion in employee compensation and $4.9 billion in economic output.
Contributing to the total economic output of nightlife is the ancillary impact on the city’s economy from additional spending on retail, transportation, lodging, and other services that occurs only because people are out enjoying New York City’s nightlife. This impact totals 48,000 jobs, $2.3 billion in wages and $6 billion in economic output. Finally, the nightlife industry generates a fiscal impact of $1.8 billion— $697 million in taxes to New York City and $1.1 billion to New York State.
By analyzing Taxi and For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) data, from 2013 through 2017, the report reveals that 32% of all rides in the city are nightlife related. Further, FHV and Taxi use during prime nightlife hours of 12 a.m.- 4 a.m. has grown 12% annually during that period, with some neighborhoods seeing increases of over 300% in pick-ups during prime hours.
The study also analyzes NYS Liquor Authority data in recent years. As of 2018, NYC had 11,961 active on-premises liquor licenses. Since 2000, liquor licenses have grown at an annual rate of 2%.
Nightlife by Subsector
In the new report, nightlife is defined as the activity that occurs between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in five hospitality and entertainment subsectors: food service, bars, venues, arts and culture, and spectator sports and recreation. Here is a breakdown of the economic contribution of each:
- Food service is the backbone of New York City’s nightlife economy with 19,400 establishments. This subsector is responsible 72% of jobs (141,000 jobs), 68% of employee compensation ($4.2 billion), and 67% of economic output ($12 billion). Food service represents over 80% of nightlife establishments in every borough except Manhattan, where food service represents 66%.
- The Bar subsector has also outpaced the overall nightlife industry, with 7% growth in jobs and 9% in wages, much of which has been driven by Brooklyn, which has seen a 16% increase in jobs and 21% increase in wages. The Bar subsector is responsible for 13,400 jobs, $492 million in employee compensation, and $2 billion in economic output
- The Venues subsector is seeing a resurgence with jobs and employee compensation growing at rates of 3% and 9%. Queens has seen 10% annual growth in the number of these establishments. Venues are responsible for 19,900 jobs, $373M in employee compensation, and $1.2B in economic output
- The Arts and Culture subsector has 1,800 establishments and supports 18,300 jobs, $804 million in employee compensation, and $3.1B in economic output. Manhattan’s arts-based nightlife activity accounts for 75% and 90% of the subsector’s jobs and wages, respectively.
- In the Spectator Sports and Recreation subsector jobs and wages are growing at a rate of 0% and 8%, contributing 3,900 direct jobs, $352 million in employee compensation, and $735M in economic output
Manhattan captures most of the jobs and economic activity in nightlife with 128,000 direct jobs and $4.8 billion in employee compensation representing 66% and 65% of direct economic activity relating to nightlife, respectively. Manhattan has experienced a relatively modest 2% growth in establishments with 13,000 as of 2016, and a 1.6% annualized growth rate in liquor licenses since 2000.
Brooklyn has experienced the greatest growth in nightlife with 5,500 establishments as of 2016 and an annual growth rate of 5%. Jobs and wages have risen 10% and 15%, respectively, with a total of 31,100 direct nightlife jobs and $608 million in wages.
Queens, with 4,800 nightlife establishments in 2016, also outpaced overall city nightlife growth. The borough has experienced strong annualized growth rates for jobs and wages, 7% and 9% respectively. Notably, Queens’ venues have grown by 10% in the last five years in comparison to citywide venue growth of 4%.
In The Bronx, there were 7,600 total nightlife jobs supporting $129 million in wages in 2016. The annualized growth rate for jobs is 7% and the annualized wage growth rate is 9%. Venues grew by 3%, however, the bars and food service subsectors declined by 2%.
Staten Island is the quietest nightlife economy of the five boroughs with 800 nightlife establishments in 2016, a slight decline from 815 in 2015. The borough has 3,900 direct nightlife jobs, supporting $64M in wages.
To complement economic analysis, 1,300 interviews and surveys were conducted with consumers, owners/operators, artists/entertainers, employees, and residents. Although 87% of owners and operators cited the cost of commercial rents as their biggest challenge, most (60%) expected to still be in business in three years. Income stability was the biggest hurdle faced by artists and entertainers (80%) but close to the same percentage (79%) envisioned still working in NYC in three years. Other nightlife employees also cited challenges with income stability and lack of benefits, although 65% of employees anticipated remaining in the field within the next three years. Consumers were most likely to frequent restaurants (85%) and bars (73%) but some cited affordability as a challenge. Residents in nightlife-dense neighborhoods mentioned quality of life challenges such as noise and sanitation issues.
“New York City is internationally known as a nightlife hub and the insight in this report will help us identify the industry’s opportunities for job creation and economic growth specific to The Bronx. We need to encourage bar and food service operators to invest in our borough, because not only do these businesses provide members of our community with jobs but they also add life and culture to the streets in a way which encourages tourism overall. I thank the Mayor’s office for facilitating this analysis and look forward to working with the Office of Nightlife to show that The Bronx is an exciting place to visit,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“This groundbreaking study shows that nightlife is a major driver of our city’s economy, providing jobs to our residents and drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every week. We should be doing everything in our power to help the industry continue to thrive, while simultaneously ensuring that they are respectful of their surrounding community. That’s why the Office of Nightlife’s work is so important. For my part, as the Nightlife Legislator, I will continue to champion policies that make the nightlife experience better for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal.
“New York City’s nightlife is an engine that’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Andrew Rigie, chair of the Nightlife Advisory Board. “Nightlife makes our city culturally rich, and this report highlights the wealth of economic benefits generated by the industry. The information in this report will help inform the Nightlife Advisory Board’s work as we seek to support the diversity of nightlife establishments, the people who own, work at, go out to, and live near them. We look forward to working towards this goal with the de Blasio administration, Office of Nightlife, City Council and all stakeholders.”
“Nightllfe is part of what drives New York City and now we have data to back that up,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The insights from this report will help the Office of Nightlife hone in on ways to support and manage the industry.”
“Brooklyn has cultivated a vibrant nightlife and entertainment industry, employing tens of thousands of people while bringing countless more together,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “It is important that we continue to support this growing and diverse sector of our borough’s economy, while working in partnership with the communities that are home to these establishments.”
“There is so much to do an enjoy and learn on Staten Island – day and night,” said Borough President James Oddo. “Staten Island is open for business- whether it’s a talk by a local author, a show at the amazing St. George Theatre or from one of our talented theatre groups, a great meal, or an inventive cocktail, we have it all.”
“New York City’s nightlife establishments are small businesses and in a city that never sleeps, their role is just as vital to our local economy as their daytime counterparts,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “By highlighting nightlife establishments’ significant economic contributions, this report emphasizes the importance of ensuring that these businesses can continue to start, operate, and grow in our great city.”
“MOME’s new report confirms that New York City’s nightlife contributes significantly to the city’s economic well-being, and nocturnal cultural activities are an important part of that diverse landscape,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “One of the significant commitments in the CreateNYC cultural plan is to proactively help artists and venues to flourish even after dark. Focusing on increased affordability and stronger community connection will enable us to not only support established cultural nightlife such as our world-famous theater scene, but also those more experimental, DIY, and underground spaces giving platforms to eclectic artists and performers and providing safe spaces for members of often otherwise marginalized communities.”
“Nightlife is such an indispensable part of New York City’s landscape and identity,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “We are pleased to see the release of this new nightlife study, which underscores the positive impact of this vital segment of our economy while also providing useful insights and opportunities to ensure its continued success.”
“We’ve been running restaurants and nightclubs in New York City for years, and giving back to our community has always been a top priority for us,” said Bill Bonbrest, Partner and Chief Operating Officer, TAO Group. “The release of the nightlife economic report shows that our industry provides enormous social and economic benefits to our city. We’re proud to be a part of the overall impact and we look forward to working with the Office of Nightlife to support our industry and the neighborhoods we serve.”
“I’m so glad to see a study that puts some real numbers next to the value of nightlife in New York City,” said Justin Carter, Co-Owner, Nowadays. I still believe that culture is the biggest value that nightlife provides to our city – it’s the main reason why I live here – but obviously there are all kinds of subjective opinions about what constitutes valuable culture. What is inarguable is the value of nearly 300,000 jobs, $13 billion in the pockets of employees and almost $700 million in tax revenue.”
“It’s encouraging to see the relationship between the City and nightlife turn the corner, and to be recognized for our cultural and economic impact by this administration,” Dhruv Chopra, Co-Founder and Head of Operations, Elsewhere. We are hopeful for more streamlined regulation, more transparent enforcement, and economic support, especially to help independent music spaces from shuttering, as is the case for many of our European counterparts where such offices exist.”
“Nightlife is an intricate part of the culture and commerce of New York City, but the challenges of entertainment and hospitality can be very difficult to navigate,” said Larry Gold, Owner, SOB’s. The Office of Nightlife can help keep New York City a mecca for new and exciting opportunities.”
“The nightlife economic impact study has validated our long-standing belief that the nightlife industry is, not surprisingly, a critical economic component of the greatest city in the world,” David Rosen, Co-founder, Brooklyn Allied Bars and Restaurants (BABAR). “This economic activity is driven largely by small neighborhood restaurants and bars and hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers, New Yorkers who serve as pillars in our communities and city at large. Thankfully, with the creation of the Office of Nightlife, our city’s leaders have recognized the importance of the nightlife industry. This study has now positioned the Office of Nightlife to address industry challenges in meaningful and lasting ways.”
About the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) encompasses the key economic and creative sectors of film, TV, theater, music, advertising, publishing, and digital content. In total, these sectors account for over 305,000 jobs, and an economic output of $104 billion. MOME also oversees NYC Media, the largest municipal broadcasting entity in the country including five TV channels and a radio station with a reach of 18 million viewers in a 50-mile radius. The Office of Nightlife, established in 2018, is also housed at MOME.