Now we know the reason why the City of New York committed to opening a Department of Nightlife and finding the right person to guide it.
The first-ever economic impact study of the sector was released late last month by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. The study looked at New York City restaurants, bars, arts and cultural institutions, music venues and sports and recreation facilities that are open between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. It found that there are more than 25,000 such nightlife establishments in the five boroughs that contribute $697 million in local tax revenue.
“We have long known that nightlife is a fundamental part of New York City’s culture and identity,” said Ariel Palitz, senior executive director of the office of nightlife. “Now we can also quantify exactly how vital it is as an economic driver. We hope this report will change the conversation about how nightlife is supported and appreciated.”
The city’s nightlife industry supports nearly 300,000 jobs and has $35.1 billion in total economic output, according to the study. The report also found that the 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, compared to 3% and 4% in the city overall.
The study showed a shifting landscape in New York City nightlife. Though Manhattan still is home to the majority of nightlife establishments, with 13,000 as of 2016, Brooklyn, with 5,500 venues, experienced the largest growth, with an annual rate of 5%.
Media and entertainment officials attributed growth in the outer boroughs to ride services such as Lyft and Uber. The report looked at taxi and for-hire-vehicle data during the midnight-to-4 a.m. time period and found that in northern Bushwick between 2013 and 2017, there was a 92% increase in trips, for example. Also, a new music venue and nightclub in Bushwick was Lyft’s No. 1 pickup spot in Brooklyn during the last year, they said.
“We’re seeing a growth in liquor licenses in Williamsburg, Prospect Heights, Bushwick—a new nightlife mecca is happening,” said Shira Gans, senior executive director of policy and programs.
Palitz, who was hired by Mayor Bill de Blasio in March to head a new effort to support the nightlife sector, said plans are in the works to develop a portal to make permitting easier for the industry to navigate.
The study was conducted by the North Highland Co., ESI Consult Solutions and Urbane Development during the summer. As part of the study, 1,300 interviews were conducted with venue owners, consumers, employees and residents.
Nearly 90% of the NYC nightlife owners and operators said their biggest challenge was rising commercial rents. Other challenges included regulatory red tape and people staying home more. Still, 60% of owners expected to still be in business in three years.