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Does New Data Suggest a Cool Down for NYC's Construction Boom?

Construction spending in New York City may have hit record highs over the past several years, but new data suggest the Big Apple’s red-hot building boom may be cooling off. According to Construction Dive, subtle signs may be signaling a leveling-out of construction activity:

  • New York City Department of Buildings data shows 165,988 construction-related permits were issued in 2018. That’s roughly 1.3% less than the number of permits issued the previous year.
  • Though the slight dip is the first since 2009, last year’s total permits still accounted for the second-highest number of construction permits issued in City history.
  • Even with less activity, the permits issued in 2018 entailed projects slated to add over 45 million square feet (about one-and-a-half miles) of floor space, and an over 40% increase in issued permits as compared to 2013.
  • In addition to a small decrease in construction permits, the number of NYC construction workers also decreased by about 500 from the record high 46,000 workers in 2017. It’s the City’s first decease in construction worker employment numbers in a decade, but as with permit activity, was still the second highest on record.

The construction industry is heavily tracked, and experts continually make and adjust projections and estimates about its future. While the City’s post-recession building boom may be showing signs of cooling off, it’s still thriving with record construction spending numbers and projected trends that still show growth in certain sectors.

Data also shows over 40% of all permits issued last year were for projects in Manhattan, that Brooklyn saw the most new construction permits, and that infrastructure, commercial projects, and projects on the waterfront continue to grow. Development on the West Side, 50 Hudson Yards (which would be the fourth largest and costliest commercial tower in NYC upon completion in 2022), Pfizer’s announcement to commandeer upwards of 800,000 square feet of commercial space, and other large-scale projects suggest the cool down, if you can call it that, may be minimal.

Construction Accidents & Injuries in New York City: A Team Always Available to Help

Despite projections experts may glean from construction permit data, there’s no denying 2018 still saw the second-highest year on record in terms of construction employment numbers, with around 45,500 construction workers employed that year. Though that is truly an immense number, workers often don’t get the publicity or the focus new high rises, upscale apartments, and mega projects generate, nor do they always receive the support they need to stay safe on the job. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why 2018 was also the most dangerous year for construction workers in the City.

As a firm that’s recovered more than 50 verdicts and settlements over $1 million dollars in construction accident cases in the past 7 years alone, and over $500 million in compensation for clients since our inception, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. knows the tremendous risks construction workers face when they put their lives on the line to create and improve our communities.

While the “leveling out” may not as of yet have much of an impact on employment numbers, it may very well affect worker safety – especially when it comes to worksite hazards on large-scale projects (such as cranes and multiple contractors), risks of toxic exposure or fires and explosions on commercial and industrial worksites, and employers that may cut corners to remain competitive in an industry that may be beginning to cool off.

For whatever reason a construction worker in New York City suffers injuries on the job, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. will be here to help. Our New York construction accident attorneys are available 24/7 to speak with injured workers and their loved ones about their accidents and injuries, whether they may have a potential workers’ compensation or personal injury claim, and what we can do to help. Contact us online or call (212) 577-9325 for a FREE consultation.


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