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The New Out-Of-Towners

New York City Still Attracts Many Immigrants, But More People Are Moving Away Each Year

By Julie Claire Diop. STAFF WRITER

July 13, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Newsday. All rights reserved. 

Nicholas Cianka would love to stay in the city. He ran an 11-person computer consulting firm that had offices at 5 World Trade Center. He lost the office, and his three largest clients cut short their contracts after Sept. 11, 2001. They also cut off Cianka’s hope of holding on to his business. City officials said rebuild, but his business was resting on a foundation of dust and despair.

Cianka, 41 went from working 18-hour days at $150 an hour to disbanding his company and picking up freelance Web site programming assignments, sometimes at $40 an hour for Parade magazine, and import car company Sports & Imports.

Without a steady job, he plans to move to New Jersey this summer to reduce his expenses, he said. Cianka grew up on Jane Street in the 1960sand had hoped his 3- and 4-year-old children would also grow up downtown.

Blocks from his apartment in SoHo, galleries fill up on weekends. The streets are a lively circus of tourists, vendors and New Yorkers peering into trendy stores. He is part of the neighborhood’s fabric: Through the SoHo Alliance helped stop developers from building 50-story buildings in a neighborhood of old factories and blocked bars from overrunning local streets.HIS activism is not an example of his FAMILY’s being part of the neighborhood; need to reword Losing his business was hard enough. Leaving SoHo is a load he does not want to carry.

His two children are young enough that moving won’t be a problem.julie said we could cut the part about the school/db His wife, Naera, who is an artist, can work from another city. Still, the possibility of leaving keeps him searching the Internet for jobs in the city, often late into the night. I don’t really sleep anymore," he said.

Cianka may become one of the roughly 1 million people who, according to experts’ estimates, will leave New York City this decade, for job, lifestyle or other reasons.

They include recent college graduates, artists, computer wizzes, investment bankers and janitors. They will no longer shop in the maze of stores near the World Trade Center or head to Herald Square for hot attire or eat in Chinatown. Their departuresabove we said these were coming in the next decade;

Businesses are squeezing into smaller spaces or leaving, and people in luxury high-rises are moving into the top floor of a six-floor walkup and out of Manhattan into Astoria and New Jersey, said Michael Hart, the dispatcher at Big John’s Moving Inc. in Manhattan. He had a surge of activity after Sept. 11, 2001, and business now is up about 25 percent from prior years, he said.

Texas, Chicago and New Jersey are the hot spots, said Guy Drori, president of Manhattan-based Meyer’s Moving and Storage. After Sept. 11, people moved to the suburbs. In the last half year, there’s been a jump in requests for moves to other parts of the country, Drori said.

But as some New Yorkers leave, new immigrants and residents take their place. They bring life to different neighborhoods, often in the outer boroughs. New York’s population is always changing.

WHERE ARE WE IN THE CYCLE? COMPARED TO PAST YEARS? No one will say. Apparently what’s happening now is not so different than what happened in the 1990s or 1980s.

Between July 2001 and June 2002, 15,550 people emigrated from other countries to the city than left New York to move abroad. While immigrants rushed in, others moved out: 26,829 more ditto, same problem here/sm people left the city to move to other parts of the country than came to New York.

Because of immigration, the population is not decimated,"said Peter Lobo, deputy director of the Department of City Planning’s population division.

New immigrants believe even a sluggish New York can help them achieve the American Dream. But for New Yorkers, a city losing jobs is like a dance club with the music on low. It’s got an usher leading people out. The city lost 150,800 jobs from Sept. 11, 2001, through April 2003, according to a report by state Comptroller Alan Hevesi. New York City’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in April more than 2 percentage points higher than the national averageof 6.1 percent, according to the State Labor Department. The difference is still less than it was in 1992, when the city’s jobless rate reached 11 percent, vs. 7.5 percent for the nation.

According to the Department of City Planning Population Division’s 1990 Census Source: Compiled by the Department of City Planning’s population division from the 1990 Census. Where people moved has not changed significantly over time, Lobo said.

Rasheeda Archibald is considering Washington, D.C. She studied finance at Baruch College and would love to work as an analyst at an investment bank in Manhattan. She’s ready to jump into the world of power suits and power lunches. It’s tough, however, to outshine what seems like thousands of college graduates who want exactly the same jobs she does, especially when New York’s financial institutions continue to downsize.

Archibald, 23, who has always lived in Brooklyn, said she will likely follow her boyfriend, who took a government job in Washington last year when he could not find work in Manhattan. "College to me equaled getting a job," she said. "Now everyone has a college degree. I think I need luck, networking skills and experience."

Eighty-six percent of CUNY bachelor’s degree students who graduated between the summer 2000 and fall 2001 were employed, and of those, 86 percent worked in the city.

In a tight market, "you have to cast a wider net," said John Challenger, chief executive at Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.

The "9/11 effect" caused people in other cities to stay put, while in New York people are leaving, he said. Nationwide, midlevel managers moved 20 percent to 25 percent of the time in 1999, when the economy was thriving. In the fourth quarter of 2002, moves for jobs dropped to 15 percent. No NYC stats.

Archibald’s friend Lawanda Pierre imagined a college degree would lead to a windowed office, or at least a cubicle. She graduated from Baruch in January, where she studied music, business and marketing her major was the management of musical enterprises - a sentence stopper - and her minor was marketing. The 22-year-old is a fast-talking, street-smart, head-turning, go-get-’em Brooklyn native. Rather than doing marketing at a record company the job she wanted she’s selling shoes at a Kenneth Cole store on 17th Street.

She’s good at selling, she said, at letting a crusty, old man, for example, believe a shiny pair of shoes gives him new flair. Still, she wants to get off the path of misshapen feet and picky, prickly customers.

Pierre loves New York and especially Brooklyn, but she wouldn’t mind moving to Houston,swhere her sister, Tyanne, lives. Many of the roughly 100 resumes she’s sent out, mostly through Internet job sites, have been to firms outside the city. She’ll go where the jobs are if she must, she said, even if they are in cities where people say "y’all" and "go figure." She’s got the smarts to adapt.

Moving to a new city is one of those toss-and- turn-all-night decisions, and it becomes especially daunting when more than one person must move. "You can get into a whole world of issues around a trailing spouse," said Alan Kra"

mer at Manhattan-based outplacement firm Drake Beam Morin. Couples, he said, often have to ask, "Whose career are we going to foster?"

Families with teenagers are probably the least flexible, since teenagers cannot easily adjust to new schools and friends, he said.

Seth Pehr said he, his wife and his 8- and 11-year-old children will keep their house in New Hyde Park. It’s his business, Daniel Pehr Locksmith and Engraver, that must move, operating mainly from his van and online.

Pehr spent the last year and a half trying to reopen the shop he took over from his father in the lobby of 5 World Trade Center. He lost the 320-square-foot, four-person store in the terrorist attacks. "I was devastated by September 11," he said. "I lost my location, my tools, my inventory and my customers."

More than 100,000 people strolled past the store each day. He’s searched for comparable spaces downtown, but they are triple the $2,000 monthly rent he paid, and pedestrian traffic is lighter than it was before Sept. 11. The area hums with tourists, but they can’t keep a locksmith in business, Pehr said.

Opt trim:When the World Trade Center went up in the 1960s, his father lost his shop on what was then Washington Street through eminent domain. He picketed the construction site with a sandwich board that read, "Locksmith Locked Out, Unfair." His badgering helped him secure a spot at 5 World Trade Center.

His son has been as tenacious as his father, but said the city’s bureaucracy gets in the way. "I was so proud to say I ran a business in the World Trade Center," Pehr said. He received $3,100 in government aid, and his insurance covered another $63,000. The total was not enough for him to start over.

Several of his customers have continued calling on him. He drives to their sites. Sometimes he pays more in parking tickets than he makes from his work.

Pehr plans to boost his business on Long Island and in New Jersey by driving to customers, and farther afield by using the Internet. He can make a key for a cabinet, for example, if he knows the cabinet’s serial number, which someone can input online. "I have to go where the business is," he said. "I’m an excellent locksmith. I’m an excellent engraver."

Esteban Haigler is in the process of selling his apartment on the Lower East Side, hoping to leave the city by July or next month. He learned in October that he would lose in May the job he held for 12 years as director of technical services at Manhattan-based Parade magazine. "It’s tough to get information-technology jobs in the city," he said.

For years he thought about returning to his native Puerto Rico to open a guest house next to the ocean.i changed this sentence so it didn’t end on a preposition/db When Parade said it would lay off employees, Haigler began work on a business plan, looked at locations and bought a building. "It’s a completely different activity," he said. "I think of it as less stressful."

During the months he thought about budgets and advertising for his new business, he continued to hope he would find work in New York and hold on to his apartment. Haigler, 48, gave his resume to a headhunter but heard nothing back. "I’ve been following the market, and there are not that many opportunities," he said. " I know it’s a tough market."

He’s nervous about starting from scratch, with a rundown building and a dream of turning it into a Spanish hacienda. "I’m excited in general with the idea," he said. "I’m worried about the details." The international slump in tourism could hurt his business. Still, he prefers to return to Puerto Rico and his family than try to get by without a job in the city.

Ready To Take Manhattan

Jennifer Whelan seems too bright-eyed and enthusiastic for New York City, but she said she always knew she would spend a few years here. She’s been curious about the city since she was young and listened to her father’s Roger horror stories about commuting here from his parents’ home in New Jersey for summer jobs while he was in law school at Georgetown.

In December, the 25-year-old accountant, who said she hopes to get her CPA certification in the next year, was ready to quit her job in Baltimore, before tax season started. New York City’s limping economy didn’t factor into her plans.

She signed up with financial recruiter Robert Half, drove from Maryland to meet with five or six firms, and in February started work at midtown real estate investor and manager The Benenson Capital Co., where she does internal auditing. "I didn’t have many problems," Whelan said. Roommates from her college, Mount St. Mary’s, in Maryland, helped her find an apartment in Astoria, and they take her out on weekends.

Whelan realizes many New Yorkers are unable to find work. She was lucky, she guesses. In interviews she must have done well; she is confident, articulate and believes things work out for the best.

Whelan’s boss, Anthony Margiotta, said he knew at the end of their first interview that she was perfect for the job at the 30-person firm. She had accounting and auditing experience and seemed eager to learn. He said he was "very picky" when he interviewed four other candidates for the position. At a 30-person firm, fit was important. Margiotta said in retrospect he made the right decision: "She’s brilliant, very cooperative, she’s an extremely hard worker and a great team player."

She said she got a 10 percent boost in her salary, but would not disclose how much she makes. Whelan misses some things from her old life, including flag football games and Sundays with her parents and siblings she is the youngest of seven children.

While New York is where she wants to be now, she plans to move back to Maryland when she is ready to start a family. I want to be near my family, she said. Her boyfriend of one year, Pat Tina, grew up in Jackson Heights but stayed in Baltimore, where he works for Robert Half. They take turns commuting.

She hasn’t yet had time to uncover the nooks and crannies of New York. In April she spent her first evening in Greenwich Village. She called her sister from Washington Square Park to say she recognized the arch from a scene in "When Harry Met Sally." The tourist sites she will save for weekends when her family visits. In May she took her sister Julie, 26, to Central Park and they went to their first Yankees game.

The subway is taking time to get used to. "It’s pretty dirty," she said. But as she tends to do, she pointed out the bright side. "I like the fact that I don’t have to drive so much." Her bags are unpacked. There are few things that she hasn’t yet worked out. She needs to put up more pictures in her apartment and she’s still trying to find a gym she likes. - Julie Claire Diop

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