Workers in New York City's construction industry overwhelmingly live in the city (75%), and their relatively high wages bolster the middle class (71% live in households with incomes of at least $50,000), according to a report issued this week by the New York Building Congress. Even better, the report found, 84% were able to secure employment in the industry without a college degree.
The bottom line is that this sector allows city residents with limited advanced education to earn good money—exactly what New York needs.
Approximately 26 percent of all building industry workers lived in households with incomes greater than $125,000 in 2013. Forty-five percent of workers reported household earnings between $50,000 and $125,000. Twenty percent reported earnings between $25,000 and $49,999, and 9 percent reported household earnings of less than $25,000 annually.A household with two adults each earning $25,000 fits into that 71% that David cited, and that's hardly middle-class by New York standards; they would be eligible for public housing.
David notes that African-Americans, "who represent 25% of city residents, compose only 13% of the construction workforce." Hispanics are overrepresented. Also, only half construction workers had health insurance, a decline of 3 percentage points from 2012.
Writes David, "There may be a lot wrong with the construction unions and their onerous work rules that inflate costs, but this is a stain on the alternative." It's not the only stain. Some percentage of nonunion jobs are extremely hazardous.
According to the survey, which is based on personal responses and incorporates both union and non-union labor as well as participation by “off the books” workers, construction and other blue-collar operations accounted for 79 percent of the industry workforce. The remainder of the workforce, as defined by the Census Bureau, consisted of sales and service occupations as well as white-collar jobs, such as architects, engineers, and management.
And there are some jobs at the FC Modular plant in the Brooklyn Navy Yard--note the information session next Wednesday, in the graphic above right--but only for those with at least one year of construction trade experience. That doesn't change the paradigm the way BUILD promised.