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Job market rebound? Hiring on rise, but gigs are low-paying

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn’s on its way back from the dead.

The Great Recession killed 8,500 jobs in the borough in 2009, but a new report shows a nearly complete comeback this year: About 7,600 new positions were created in 2010.

That’s a bigger job surge than any other part of the city, fueled by hiring by health-care providers, big-name national retail stores and smaller food companies, according to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which polls its members to create an annual labor market review.

A slew of national retailers and restaurants — including Aeropostale in Downtown, Barneys Co-Op in Cobble Hill and a TJMaxx in Midwood — opened in 2010, part of a larger retail boom that’s changing the borough.

Of course, the 7,600 new jobs is just a tiny fraction of the borough’s overall employment, with about 476,000 people working in the borough. But Chamber of Commerce President Carl Hum thinks the trend is only going up.

“People used to go to Manhattan to do their shopping and dining,” he said. “Now they stay in Brooklyn.”

Home health care created 4,000 new jobs in 2010 — more than any other industry — thanks to an aging population. The retail industry also created 1,900 new jobs, and the restaurant industry added 1,350 retail jobs. The report does not include data about how many of those businesses were national chains.

Of course, there’s a downside to the job mini-boom: most of these new gigs are not high-paying jobs.

“Low-skill jobs are not high-paying,” said David Autor, an economics professor at Massachusetts Technical Institute. “It’s fine for young people looking for something temporary, but these are not career jobs.”

The 2010 Labor Market Review uses data that the Chamber of Commerce collects from its members. It predicts that the borough will gain more than 9,000 jobs in 2011 and that the majority will be health care-related.

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