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NYC Construction Employment To Hit Lowest Level Since 2014


Construction is grinding back to life in New York City following the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, but spending and employment is expected to come in more than $1B below 2019 levels for at least the next three years.

Spending on construction is set to hit $174.1B between 2021 and 2023, according to the New York Building Congress’ construction outlook report. That figure marks a drop of $1.5B from the pre-Covid years between 2017 and 2019. When adjusted for inflation, the actual difference in construction spending in the pre- and post-pandemic eras would be closer to $38.2B.

While some 135,000 jobs are expected to be added to the city's construction sector this year, after significant labor losses last year, employment in the construction sector this year is at its lowest level in seven years. Employment should trend upward over the next few years, reaching more than 140,000 added jobs next year and 157,100 in 2023, the NYBC projects.

“Despite the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on New York City since the start of the pandemic, the building industry proves its strength time and time again, as spending and job creation continue on an upward trend from 2020,” New York Building Congress CEO Carlo Scissura said in a statement. “With a long road to economic recovery ahead, the ever-present threats of climate change and infrastructure that’s crumbling, we need meaningful, immediate support from Washington. Investments in the infrastructure are investments in a stable and vibrant city, state and nation.”

Nonessential construction was shut down for 11 weeks during the worst of the coronavirus outbreak last year, and those sites were only able to reopen with social distancing and new safety measures in place — which slowed productivity in some cases. Employment and constructions were hit in 2020, with many in the industry preparing themselves for a long road to recovery.

Spending on residential construction work is set to hit $13.3B by the end of this year, down $5.5B from the year before, and spending on nonresidential work could reach $23.7B this year, but fall to $22.4B in 2022, according to the NYBC. Meanwhile, New York City's government is forecast to spend $9.1B on capital projects this year, $9.7B in 2022 and $8.6B in 2023, per the report.