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Economy

Amazon HQ2 and the ‘Gentrification of Jobs’

Amazon has said each HQ2 site will result in 25,000 jobs. Will the working-class benefit? Will Amazon train locals for future employment?
Graffiti in a vacant lot in Long Island City sends a clear signal: The company isn't welcome.
Graffiti in a vacant lot in Long Island City sends a clear signal: The company isn't welcome.Nandita Bose/Reuters

“Only New Yorkers could complain about getting 25,000 new jobs,” comedian Colin Jost laughed on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live. “All the cities who lost out must be like, ‘shut up, you whiny bitches.’” The joke obviously referenced Amazon’s announcement that starting in 2019, the company will begin to grow two 25,000-employee offices; one in Long Island City, Queens, and another in Northern Virginia. (It will also put a 5,000-employee office in Nashville, Tennessee.)

The New Yorkers who are fighting Amazon’s move aren’t job haters, they’ll tell you, even the ones that stood in the rain outside State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan’s office last week, yelling “New York is not for sale.” Nor are Washingtonians and Virginians, even those who’ve opposed the project at Arlington county council meetings. The growing number of vocal Amazon NIMBYs are mostly not-shutting-up about everything else they fear a tech giant could mean for their neighborhoods—sky-high housing prices, clogged public transit, and squandered taxpayer money. Those factors have been projected to be anything from extreme to negligible in the already-booming cities, depending on who you ask.