Demographic & Social Economic Profile
From: New Directions: A 197-A Plan for Manhattan Community district 11 (Revised 1999)
Many workers in East Harlem lack some of the skills necessary for jobs in the service sector. Moreover, where entry-level jobs in the service sector of the economy are available, they tend to be comparatively lower paying and offer fewer opportunities for advancement than blue collar jobs, especially for minorities.
SOURCE: City of New York. Community District Needs Year 1993 Manhattan (New York: 1992)
After the fiscal crises of the 1970s, Manhattan slowly began to gain some of the population it had lost (up 4.1 percent from 1980 to 1990) as did New York City (up 3.5 percent from 1980 to 1990). East Harlem, however, continued its population decline (down 3.5 percent from 1980 to 1990).
In comparison to Manhattan and New York City, East Harlem has a significantly higher percentage of its population made up of young people. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, East Harlem contained 25,490 children of school age (ages 5-19) in 1990, comprising 23 percent of the District's total population. This compares to 14 percent of the total population for Manhattan and 19 percent for New York City.
The percentage of residents over 65 years increased from 10.4 percent in 1980 to 11. 5 percent in 1990. Much of the increase was found in two categories: females over 65 years and all persons over 75 years. Nevertheless, the number and percentage of senior citizens in East Harlem, as well as the median age, are lower than found in the borough of Manhattan or New York City. The median age went up slightly from 29.4 years in 1980 to 30.6 years in 1990.
Although district-wide U.S. Census data describe East Harlem's diverse ethnicity, US Census tract data reveals population concentrations within the district. Map 2 (click here to see) shows that the northern portion of East Harlem (above 125th Street) has a predominantly black population, while the southern portion, known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio, has a predominantly Latino population. The white population is Largely clustered in Census tracts located in the southwest comer of the community district near 96th Street and Central Park.
Within the Latino population there has also been a compositional shift. The number of Puerto Ricans has decreased slightly from 1980 to 1990. At the same time, non-Puerto Rican Latinos have almost doubled from 6,824 in 1980 to 12,161 in 1990.
Immigration data for this area confirms this change. The number of foreign born residents increased from 8.6 percent in 1980 to 11. 1 percent in 1990. There is one notable change in the foreign born population: in 1980, the majority of those foreign born were US citizens (61 percent), but in 1990 the majority of the those foreign born (62 percent) were not.
Caution must be used with all population data, since the 1990 U. S. Census count missed a significant number of immigrants unwilling to participate in the population count as well as in income reporting.
SOURCE: Department of City Planning. Socioeconomic Profiles: A Portrait of New York Citys Community Districts From 1980 & 1990 Censuses of Population and Housing (New York: 1993).
As overcrowding increased, the vacancy rate dropped from 11. 1 percent in 1980 to 5.6 percent in 1990.
Despite the pressure for apartments many are vacant. A 1997 survey of the eight avenues and five main cross streets sponsored by CIVITAS discovered 2,500 vacant apartments (usually above active ground level retail stores). 90% are owned privately. The CIVITAS survey also documented 9,444 units of new or rehabilitated housing by the not-for-profit community developers in East Harlem; almost all since 1968. An additional 2,141 were returned to the market by private developers, picking up the rehabilitation and construction "ball" passed on from the New York City Housing Authority!
The percentage of East Harlem residents over 25 years of age who have
graduated from high school has increased roughly 10 points from 1980 to
1990, During the same period, the proportion of college graduates has
also risen from 7.5 to 11. 5 percent. The most significant change occurred
in the number of persons with some college which increased by an impressive
74 percent. Although East Harlem residents have become more educated,
people continue to have difficulty getting service sector jobs that require
specialized skills or degrees.
The improvements in educational attainment are occurring simultaneously
with notable positive changes in the districts public schools. While elementary
schools have boasted significant increases in reading scores, intermediate
schools have made dynamic changes in their structure by offering special
programs and smaller classes.
According to the 1990 US Census, the majority of East Harlem workers were employed in the service industry (48 percent). Most of the service sector jobs were located in hospitals and health related institutions. From 1980 to 1990, the most striking rise in service sector jobs -- a 2.6 percentage point increase -occurred within the education sector.
Retail trade, which represents the second largest industry in East Harlem,
dropped slightly from 12.6 percent in 1980 to 11. 7 percent in 1990. In
1990, the manufacturing establishments employed 11. 3 percent of East
East Harlem, Manhattan and New York City have similar percentages of workers employed in the private sector at 71 percent, 78 percent and 76 percent respectively. Greater differences are evident in the number of residents employed in the public sector. East Harlem leads with 24 percent, compared to 12 percent for Manhattan and 18 percent for New York City. Among the self-employed, Manhattan leads with 10 percent, followed by New York City (6 percent) and East Harlem (4 percent).
The labor force participation of females over the age of 16 increased somewhat from 1970 (35 percent) to 1980 (36 percent) and by (41 percent) to 1990. Thirty-six percent of females 16 years or older and with children under age six are in the labor force -- an increase of 27 percent since 1980.
Since 1980, the number of unemployed mates in the district has increased by 52 percent and unemployed females by 33 percent.
Map 5 shows Children 18 and under by Census Tract. The highest unemployment for East Harlem is 28.9 percent for tract 204 in the Triangle; the lowest rate is 6.5 percent for tract 160.02 at the comer of 5th Avenue and 96th Street.
The statistical figures may not represent actual income for these reasons:
1) There is a significant "cash only" economy in the area, including stores;
2) One half of the households five in housing that demands annual certification
by income. The consequences of reporting full income (such as a second
or third wage earner) would mean a raise in rents or even eviction;
3) A significant number of residents are undocumented and avoid census
Forty percent of the households receive public assistance as compared to 19% in Manhattan and New York City.
Other Sections of the 197-A Plan
Maps (all pertain
to Community Board # 11)
Board District # 11 (162K)