A new report from the Mayor’s Office in New York says the UN generates a whopping $3.69 billion in economic benefits to New York City. This figure is all the more impressive considering the UN’s tax-exempt campus in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay neighborhood sits on precious waterfront real estate, and that many foreign diplomats do not pay personal income tax. Still, using data and analysis from the New York Economic Development Corporation, the report calculates that the UN’s presence in New York is responsible for billions of economic output–and despite the security costs and traffic jams each September, is still a huge net gain for the city of New York’s budget coffers.
The report, released today, crunches data from 2014. It finds that some 25,040 jobs in New York City can be attributed to the presence of the UN, through both direct employment as well as through the number of jobs its presence is estimated to support. Of these 10,900 are UN staffers or work for UN affiliates like UNICEF. This makes the UN the 22nd largest employer in the New York region.
A Revenue Generator for the City of New York
The report says the UN brought in $110 million fiscal revenue to New York in 2014. This figure is derived from combining the tax revenue from UN staff who live in the five boroughs ($65 million) with “$49 million in taxes…estimated to have been generated through the local spending of the UN Community’s household earnings, operating expenditures paid to local businesses, and visitor spending.”
Even parking tickets are a revenue booster. New York collected $231,527 in parking fines from vehicles with diplomatic plates in FY 2014, with $49,266 uncollected at the end of the year. (In all, parking tickets for diplomatic vehicles accounted for just 0.04% of all parking tickets issued in 2014.)
Hosting the UN costs the city money. The biggest expenditure stems from educating the children of UN employees who attend public school (estimated to be about 4,000 children). This costs the city $45 million. Security is also a major expense for city coffers, particularly around the annual UN General Assembly in September.
The city of New York actually bills the federal government for most of this cost. In 2014 they sent the federal government a bill of $31 million. (This compares to the $35 million New York is billing the federal government for providing security at the Trump Tower through January 20.) Of that $31 million, the federal government reiumbursed 73% of the cost– which is typical — leaving New York to cover $8 million.
Even with these direct costs, having the UN headquartered in New York nets the city about $56 million in tax revenue.
Beyond the direct financial benefits of hosting the UN, New York also gains a degree of prestige as a global capitol. “Part of New York is the UN community. And our report is meant to shine a tangible benefits to New York of hosting the UN,” Penny Abeywardena the commissioner for the mayor’s office of international affairs told the UN press corps.
“It’s like hosting 7 superbowls in the city each year” says Peter Yeo, President of the United Nations Foundation’s Better World Campaign, who also cited a previous study of the wider economic benefits of the UN to American businesses. “Beyond New York, a billion dollars of contracts that have been given to American companies in last two years,” he said. “Two hundred and twleve American companies hold UN contracts worth over $400,000.”
So, aside from providing a platform for international cooperation across a range of issues, and fighting disease and poverty in far off lands, this latest report shows that the UN is good for businees here at home.