Economic Development

The Federation seeks to expand the economic opportunities for all Asian Americans. We promote the redevelopment and broadening of enclave economies to help immigrant workers develop job skills and integrate with the larger labor force with its greater opportunities and safety nets.

The Issue

In the years since the tragedy of the September 11th attacks, the business environment in Manhattan’s Chinatown has stabilized. However, Chinatown’s economy has not kept pace with the rest of New York City’s economy. The impact of September 11th revealed deep-seated challenges that Chinatown has been facing for decades. Significant shifts in Chinatown include decline in garment manufacturing and retail, growth of banking and other industries, changes in the customer base, increases in luxury condominium development, and a rise in commercial rents.

Our Response

Connecting to Resources

In such a challenging environment, the Federation stepped forward to study the reasons behind the fragility of the Chinatown economy and to seek ways to strengthen businesses in Chinatown. The Federation’s research team analyzed government and administrative data, surveyed a cross section of community businesses, and interviewed business leaders and economic development experts.

The resulting study, Revitalizing Chinatown Businesses: Challenges and Opportunities, documented that from 2001 to 2004, the total number of businesses in Chinatown increased from 4% and the average wage rose 10%, although the total number of jobs decreased 5%. The report also revealed that traditional pillars of the Chinatown economy that have been primary sources of immigrant jobs were shrinking or struggling. More than half of Chinatown’s garment factories closed; retail trade jobs decreased 6%; and 43% of Chinatown restaurants reported lost revenue.

However, at the same time, other Chinatown industries were growing such as health care, social assistance, finance and the arts. In order to build on Chinatown’s economic and cultural assets and fulfill Chinatown’s economic potential, the

Through these recommendations, the Federation provided vital advice to Chinatown business owners, policymakers and community leaders at a critical time. Moreover, the Federation was able to help launch a parking study by the New York City’s Department of Transportation that will identify alternatives for the increasing parking and transportation problems in Chinatown.


Working But Poor: Asian American Poverty in New York City (2008) Working But Poor:
Asian American Poverty in New York City (2008)

[70 pgs] [read/download] [order now]

This first detailed analysis of 2006 American Community Survey and Census 2000 data on poor and low-income Asians in the city describes their demographic traits and patterns, many of which reflect differences from the general population in those income categories. Age, household type, housing costs, educational attainment, language, immigration and citizenship, and employment characteristics were examined.

Revitalizing Chinatown Businesses: Challenges and Opportunities (2008) Revitalizing Chinatown Businesses:
Challenges and Opportunities (2008)

[38 pgs] [read/download] [order now]

Based on a survey of more than 300 businesses; interviews with community, business and economic development leaders; and analysis of government data, this report examines Chinatown's changing business environment, obstacles to improvement, and opportunities for enduring stability and growth.

Economic Characteristics Of Asian Americans in the New York Metropolitan Area
Economic Characteristics Of Asian Americans in the New York Metropolitan Area (2005)
[80 pgs] [read/download] [order now]

Supported by the the Citigroup Foundation, the C.J. Huang Foundation, and the AT&T Foundation, the Federation's Census Information Center (CIC) has prepared a Census 2000-based analysis offering unprecedented detail on work-force participation, employment, earnings, income, housing, and occupational and industry representation of Asian Americans in the New York Metropolitan Area.

Chinatown One Year After September 11th: An Economic Impact Study Chinatown One Year After September 11th:
An Economic Impact Study (2002)

[50 pgs] [read/download] [order now]

This report follows and incorporates results of the groundbreaking Chinatown After September 11th report, issued in April. The new report draws on numerous sources, including business and worker surveys, loan and grant data, and information from public and private relief agencies. Findings take into account experiences of more than 10,000 workers, and reflect collaboration with community, business, labor, policy and academic organizations.

Chinatown After September 11th: An Economic Impact Study Chinatown After September 11th:
An Economic Impact Study (2002)

[74 pgs] [read/download] [order now]

Drawing upon more than 30 data sources, including relief agencies and several community-based surveys, the study evaluated the extent of business and employment hardship stemming from infrastructure impediments and other factors. The study also examined the degree to which short-term assistance relieved economic distress for Chinatown, a community located less than ten blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.