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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


New York City Construction Industry Booming

May 9, 2019

The construction industry in New York state has set employment records for four consecutive years with New York City accounting for half of the state’s construction job gains since 2010, according to a report released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“While the nation has yet to recover all of the construction jobs it lost during the Great Recession, New York’s construction industry is booming,” DiNapoli said. “In 2018, the construction industry was nearly 11 percent larger than it was 10 years earlier. The industry is crucial to both the state and city, creating thousands of good-paying jobs and providing a key indicator that our economy is healthy.”

“The building industry is essential to New York and our economy – not only does it generate good-paying jobs and economic development, but it creates the schools, hospitals, housing, offices, train stations, bridges, roads and other infrastructure that we use every day,” said Carlo A. Scissura, president & CEO of the New York Building Congress. “This report further proves the industry’s tremendous impact across our state, as well as demonstrating that it is incredibly diverse. Congratulations to State Comptroller DiNapoli on this terrific report. We look forward to working with him to ensure the building industry in New York continues to thrive.”

In 2018, New York had the fourth-largest construction industry in the nation, following California, Texas and Florida. It was also one of only 14 states where construction employment had surpassed 2006 levels, which was the year construction employment peaked nationally.

The state added 91,600 construction jobs between 2010 and 2018, reaching a record of 398,400. This represents an increase of 30 percent, nearly twice as fast as job growth in the rest of the state’s private sector.

Job growth was strong in the downstate region between 2010 and 2018, with construction employment increasing by at least 35 percent in the New York City, Long Island, and the Orange-Rockland-Westchester metropolitan areas. These areas accounted for about 86 percent of the construction jobs added in the state during this period.

In New York City, the construction industry added 45,300 jobs between 2010 and 2018, increasing by 40 percent. Construction was the second-fastest growing employment sector during this period. By 2018, construction employment had reached a record of 157,800 jobs, 19 percent higher (25,000 jobs) than ten years earlier. Construction employment has continued to grow during the first quarter of 2019.

Construction was the fourth highest-paying employment sector in New York City, with an average salary of $80,200 in 2017 (latest available data). More than one-fifth (22 percent) of the workers earned more than $80,000.

The construction industry in the city had a much higher share of minority-owned firms (63 percent) than in the rest of the state (13 percent) and the nation (24 percent). Nearly two-thirds of the workers were Hispanic, African-American or Asian.

While there are signs the construction boom in the city may have peaked, such as a small decline in new building permits in 2018, construction activity remains strong. Going forward, the city’s construction industry could be sustained by the large capital programs planned by the city, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

DiNapoli’s report also notes that:

  • The nation added 1.8 million construction jobs between 2010 and 2018, but the sector was still 5 percent below its prerecession peak. In New York state, the construction sector was nearly 11 percent larger in 2018 than the prerecession level in 2008;
  • Construction employment in the greater New York City metropolitan area totaled 409,100 in 2018, the highest in the nation, followed by Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago. In addition to the five boroughs, the metropolitan region includes Long Island, the lower Hudson Valley and most of northern New Jersey;
  • Construction employment remained below the 2008 prerecession level in almost half of the state’s 62 counties, most of which were located upstate;
  • Construction spending in New York City set a record of $61.5 billion in 2018, according to the New York Building Congress, but the group expects spending to decline slightly in 2019;
  • Construction firms generated an estimated $84 billion in economic activity in 2018, representing 10 percent of New York City’s total economic output;
  • The number of building permits in New York City increased by 46 percent since 2009 to reach a record of 168,243 in 2017. In 2018, the number of permits declined by 1 percent to 165,988.
  • The construction industry paid out $11.9 billion in wages in 2017;
  • Most construction firms in the city employ fewer than 20 people (89 percent in 2017). These small firms are responsible for about one-third of all construction jobs;
  • Nearly 60 percent of the industry’s workers in New York City had no college experience, higher than in any other employment sector. These workers earned an average of $43,300 in 2017, one-third higher than in other industries;
  • Immigrants held 59 percent of the construction jobs in New York City in 2017, higher than in the rest of the state (20 percent) and the nation (25 percent). Overall, the construction industry had the highest share of foreign-born workers of any sector in the city;
  • The construction industry in the city had a signficiantly higher share of women-owned firms than in the rest of the state and the nation, according to the most recent data; and
  • Women represent a small but growing share of the workers in the construction industry. The number of women in the industry in New York City increased by 48 percent between 2007 and 2017. Women represented 9 percent of the industry in 2017.

Read the report, or go to:

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