Job loss report shows bleak figures for real estate

Construction industry fares worse than brokerage
By Amy Tennery | October 21, 2009 03:32PM

Job losses in the construction sector have been worse than in the brokerage industry, but conditions may improve more quickly in the former, according to a new report.

An estimated 5,300 real estate broker-related positions have been lost in New York City since August 2008, according to a monthly report from Eastern Consolidated, while approximately 12,400 construction jobs have been lost during the same time period.

“A lot of construction jobs come to a halt more abruptly [when the economy suffers], whereas real estate didn’t give up so quickly,” said Barbara Byrne Denham, chief economist with Eastern Consolidated. “It’s really up to the broker to quit.”

Brokers hang on to jobs longer than those in construction in times of economic stress, according to Denham, which would account for the different job loss trajectories between the sectors.

“It’s not a surprise considering the state of the market,” Denham said. “I don’t see [the jobs] picking up at least for the next six months.”

A report last month showed that there are approximately 448 stalled construction sites citywide.

Real estate industry job losses will extend through the second quarter of 2010, Denham said. Many brokers are trying to transition into related fields like distressed debt management, she added.

Construction, meanwhile, has a decidedly rosier outlook, according to some reports.

While the majority of construction job losses occurred in the months immediately following the economic crash of 2008 — just 3,300 of the 12,400 construction jobs losses occurred since December 2008, according to the report.

Future construction spending will rise 11 percent in 2010, according to the McGraw-Hill construction forecast, released earlier this month.