Construction costs are on the rise again in 2011, according to a series of surveys analyzed by the New York Building Congress. The building cost index published by the Engineering News-Record trade magazine, for example, found that after a 0.9 percent decline in 2009, construction costs in New York City soared 2.68 percent in 2010, and 2.86 percent in the first quarter of 2011. While these rates of increase are consistent with the national average, New York City far outpaces the nation in construction worker compensation.
In 14 construction occupations analyzed by the Building Congress, city workers were determined to be the top earners in the nation in 13 occupations, and the second biggest earners in the one remaining category. Plumbers in the city, for instance, earn $84.37 per hour — $16 more per hour than the second best-compensated plumbers in Boston.
“The higher cost of living certainly has an impact on compensation for workers across the board,” said Building Congress President Richard Anderson. “Having said that, however, the higher construction cost structure in New York City is bordering on unsustainable. While we must look carefully at all aspects of construction costs, it is hard to ignore the wide disparity in labor rates, which account for 50 to 60 percent of building expenses.”