Department of Small Business Services

A map of the city's Workforce1 Career Centers

When the de Blasio administration proposes a neighborhood rezoning or other major development project, community members often demand that some of the work at constructing and operating the new facilities go to local residents.

In response, the de Blasio administration often points to the city’s HireNYC initiative.

The initiative, which was greatly expanded by the administration in October 2015, sets hiring standards for employers that are doing business with or receiving certain kinds of financial support from the city or that are tenants in certain city-managed or city-assisted developments.

HireNYC itself includes five different programs applying to different aspects of city business, and each works a little differently. The initiative is considered a local hiring or low-income hiring program but it actually doesn’t come with geographical or income requirements. Instead, many of HireNYC’s programs encourage employers to consider referrals made by the city, particularly through the Department of Small Business Services’ Workforce1 Career Centers. There are 22 of these centers spread throughout the city, which tend to serve low-income residents. The city conducts outreach in neighborhoods near city-supported housing or economic development projects and works with local community based organizations to help residents get referred to the projects through their Workforce1 center. Employers face penalties for failing to comply with the procedures for considering referrals—but there are never penalties for not hiring a Workforce1 referral.

“One of the largest and most impactful targeted hiring programs in the nation, HireNYC enables the city to use its investments to connect more New Yorkers to good jobs and help local businesses find skilled workers,” touts the administration in its Jerome Avenue Neighborhood Plan, a list of programs and strategies that the city says will accompany the proposed Jerome Avenue rezoning.

But some residents, including those in the Jerome Avenue area, are skeptical. “In regards to local hire, the city has not provided enough data to show the true results of the HireNYC program,” said the Bronx Coalition for Community Vision in its written testimony on the Jerome Avenue rezoning in October.

There’s some, but limited information available online about the results of HireNYC. To protect the privacy of employers, the city doesn’t publish information about specific projects. But the Mayor’s Management Report does state the number of low-income New Yorkers connected to jobs through HireNYC in fiscal 2017 (3,000) and the wages of the public assistant recipients who found jobs through HireNYC Human Services (at least $12.75) as well as the number of hours they worked (35 per week).

It goes into most detail when talking about the HireNYC Sandy Recovery Hiring Plan, explaining that contractors in the Build It Back initiative are encouraged to hire 20 percent local residents on the recovery projects. As City Limits previously reported, the outcomes have been laudable, with Sandy-impacted residents making up 22 percent of all tradespeople working on Build It Back: 1,044 Sandy-affected residents hired by Build It Back, 467 Sandy-impacted residents employed “through other employers or after referrals for training in pre-apprenticeship programs,” and 137 Sandy-impacted residents participating in construction apprenticeship programs. The report also includes more general statistics about the city’s workforce programs overall.

City Limits sought more data to analyze the success of all the HireNYC programs at matching local residents with jobs (we didn’t look into the type of jobs acquired or their wages). Below we’ve broken down the different programs in HireNYC and the data we’ve obtained through press requests to several agencies and in conversations with City Hall. While it’s hard to make an definite assessment given the limitations of the data available, so far there do seem to be promising results.

The de Blasio administration emphasizes that many aspects of the initiative are still new. A smaller version of HireNYC limited to just a few kinds of city business was launched under the Bloomberg administration, but the de Blasio administration has vastly expanded the initiative and is still in the process of helping employers now affected by the expansion understand the new requirements.

“HireNYC has connected 5,000 New Yorkers to good jobs since 2015,” wrote Ashley Putnam, an economic development advisor for the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, in an e-mail to City Limits. “With employers and job-seekers alike, we’re casting an even wider net by bringing in more community groups, schools and colleges so we get more New Yorkers into training and the City’s workforce system.”

Granted, HireNYC won’t help encourage local hire when there are developments on private land in rezoned neighborhoods that don’t rely on subsidies or contracts from the city. Many neighborhoods are exploring other solutions to that issue.

HireNYC Goods and Services

From March 2016-October 2017:
•Contracts that indicated need to hire at some point in future = 76
•From such contracts, total number of people employers anticipated needing to hire = 49
•Total number of people hired that were referred through Workforce1 = 49

“HireNYC Goods and Services” is one of the new parts of the initiative created by the administration in 2015. It pertains to most entities fulfilling goods and services contracts and non-trade construction contracts above $1 million and includes a wide range of businesses serving the city, from designer firms to building repair companies. Employers are required to enroll in an online HireNYC portal and post any newly created entry and mid-level positions into the system. (Because the contractors are allowed to retain old employees, not all contracts will result in the creation of new jobs.) The system notifies the city’s Workforce1 centers about the jobs, and the Workforce1 system works with the employer to develop a recruitment plan. The employer is then required to interview qualified candidates referred by Workforce1 and report on who is hired.

The data shows that 76 contractors indicated a need to hire someone new at the point of contract. It’s possible some of them later decided not to hire, or some of them have not begun hiring yet. So far the contractors have collectively indicated they anticipate hiring 49 people. It’s unclear the total number of people they have hired or will hire in total, but 49 Workforce1 referrals have been hired.

HireNYC Development

From March 2016 – October 2017
•Contracts that indicated need to hire at some point in future = 97
•From such contracts, total number of people employers anticipated needing to hire = 80
•Total number of people hired that were referred through Workforce1 = 63
(Numbers pertain to Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s share of the program only. The Economic Development Corporation said none of their projects affected by the program had begun hiring and that they could not offer data.)

“HireNYC Development,” also new, pertains to construction jobs generated by projects receiving $2 million or more in subsidies from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). It applies to developers, general contractors, and subcontractors with contracts worth $500,000 or more for new entry and mid-level positions—not for trades positions in projects covered by union agreements. The process works similarly to “HireNYC Goods and Services.” A similar program is also in place for construction projects receiving $1 million or more from EDC.

The data shows that 97 contractors indicated a need to hire someone new at the point of contract (and again, some may have decided not to hire or have not begun hiring yet). So far the employers have indicated they anticipate hiring 80 people. While it’s unclear how many were and will be hired overall, 63 hires so far have been Workforce1 referrals.

HireNYC Human Services

From January 2016 – Present
•Contracts of more than $250,000: 467
•Number of Public Assistant recipient hires made: 3,423

Prior to de Blasio’s 2015 expansion of HireNYC, certain human service agencies (like the Department of Homeless Services and others) required human service venders to make a good faith effort to hire one person on public assistance for every $250,000 received in city financing. Under the revamped program, a number of other agencies were included in this requirement. The city uses another system, not the Workforce1 Career Centers, to refer candidates.

The data shows that there were 467 contracts that were required to participate and 3,423 public assistant recipients were hired. The data provided by HRA does not tell us the size of the contracts—which range from several hundred thousand dollars to the millions—and thus, it’s not possible for us to tell if there was a person on public assistance for every $250,000 hired. City Hall’s interpretation: that 3,423 public assistant recipients is pretty darn good for that number of contracts.

HireNYC Permanent Jobs

From July 1 2015 – June 1, 2016)
• Number of low-income hires: 1413
(March 2016-October 2017) – Overlap due to change of record-keeping system
•Number of people employers anticipated hiring: 509
•Number of low-income hires = 599

Prior to de Blasio’s 2015 expansion of HireNYC, the Economic Development Corporation required tenants in EDC projects that create permanent jobs to pursue hiring, retention and advancement goals for low-income New Yorkers. EDC has expanded the requirements to new project types, including projects receiving tax benefits from the New York City Industrial Development Agency or Build NYC Resource Corporation, as well as strengthened compliance measures.

The permanent jobs program is a little more stringent than the others and EDC is more closely involved in monitoring the process. Tenant businesses are asked to aim for a goal of 50 percent low-income hire. (Usually, this is measured as the percent of hires made from Workforce1 referrals, though sometimes another workforce referral system is permitted; employee incomes are not looked at.) There’s also a “retention goal”—that 40 percent of the low-income referrals are retained for at least nine months—and an “advancement goal”—that 30 percent of all the hired low-income referrals are promoted to a higher position in a year.

To meet these goals, the tenant business is instructed to work with HireNYC staff to come up with a marketing and recruitment strategy. The tenant business is required to interview all the qualified candidates who are referred and report on their attainment of the HireNYC goals—though there are no penalties for not reaching the goals. An Applebees store, Louis Kings Theater (now Kings Theater) in Flatbush, Luna Park in Coney Island, NYU, and a Century 21 store are some examples of tenants who’ve had to participate in the program in the past.

The Office of Workforce Development said that data on whether tenants in its projects were meeting the hiring, retention and advancement goals was not readily available.

Data from EDC shows that from July 2015 through June 2016, 1413 Workforce1 hires were made on projects with permanent job openings, though it’s unclear out of how many hires total. 

According to another set of data from March 2016 through October 2017 (with a bit of time overlap with the first set), employers indicated they anticipated hiring 509 people. It’s not clear how many other people were or will be hired in total, but City Hall says it’s a great sign that there were 599 low-income/Workforce1 hires made—actually exceeding the number of hires the employers had anticipated making.

HireNYC Sandy Recovery

From March 2016-October 2017:
•Number of people employers anticipated hiring: 350
•Number of Low-Income/Workforce1 Hires = 224

All contractors working on the Build It Back Hurricane Sandy recovery initiative are required to submit job postings and interview candidates from the “Sandy Recovery Workforce1 system,” with the goal of making 20 percent of hires from residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Contracts of more than $300,000 procured by the Department of Design and Construction are also required to enter apprenticeship agreements and are subject to project labor agreements.

The data shows the employers anticipated hiring 350 people. It’s not clear how many people were or will be hired altogether, but there have been so far 224 Workforce1 hires from Sandy affected areas for a “variety of projects.”

Have you applied for a job through the HireNYC initiative? We want to hear your perspective: please contact if you’re interested in sharing your experience with the initiative.