News Briefs: Industry Jobs, Spending; TZB Loan; MTA Rule; DiNapoli Report; Fracking Bans; Berger Buy
Industry Employment Up in N.Y., Down in N.J. & Conn.
The tristate Region's year-over-year industry employment rates were mixed, according to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) jobs report released last month. But the industry overall shows signs of emerging from a six-year slump, AGC says. New York state construction employment grew 2.4% to 322,500 during the past year, says the report, which is based on the U.S. Dept. of Labor data.
But Connecticut lost 2.5%, or 1,300 such jobs, and New Jersey lost 0.9%, or 1,200 jobs, from January 2012 to January 2013.
Nationwide, 24 states and the District of Columbia added jobs during the same time period, 25 states shed workers and one, Wisconsin, had no change, AGC says.
Two-thirds of all states nationwide—including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut—added workers from December 2012 to January 2013. New York added 13,000 jobs for the month, the largest numerical increase nationwide, which likely reflects recovery work from Hurricane Sandy, AGC adds. Connecticut added 600 workers, and New Jersey added 2,600.
While construction spending has been rising for two years, contractors have been cautious about hiring "until they knew the upturn would last," says Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist.
Residential and private non-residential construction are likely to rise enough to offset a further slowdown in public works, spurring demand for more workers, he says.
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New York City
Spending Rises 3.6% from 2011
New York City construction spending hit $30.6 billion last year, a 3.6% rise from 2011, according to a recent New York Building Congress (NYBC) report. Last year was the first time since 2008 that annual spending topped the $30-billion mark, NYBC adds.
The report, based on data from consultants Urbanomics, also shows that residential construction spending increased 56% to $5.1 billion in 2012. A total of 10,599 new units were built, a 19% increase over the prior year. However, with only a 19% rise in new units, the high spending increase indicates that luxury residential construction as well as interior renovations and alterations accounted for much of the new building, the report says.
"We can't reach full recovery through luxury construction alone," says Richard Anderson, NYBC president. He says the city should produce an annual average of 20,000 new residential units, including "housing at multiple price points throughout the five boroughs."
Government construction spending remained essentially flat at $15.6 billion in 2012, the report shows. Non-residential spending tumbled 8.5% to $9.8 billion.
State Enters Next Stage to Secure $1.5B TZB Loan
New York State has entered the next stage of securing a $1.5-billion federal loan for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month. The state, which is seeking a low-interest loan to help finance and lower bridge tolls for the $3.9-billion project, had applied for a $2-billion loan under the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's (DOT) Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.
Cuomo said the anticipated loan would lower tolls to below prior projections. He added that the state will seek additional funding for the project, also referred to as the new New York Bridge.
Prior to finalizing the loan, DOT is expected to conduct a credit review of the project, for which New York state is required to pay $100,000.
The New York State Thruway Authority awarded the design-build contract last December to the Fluor-led consortium Tappan Zee Constructors, which bid $3.142 billion for the project. Construction is expected to start later this year.
New York City
MTA Sets New Rules After SAS Worker Rescue
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) issued new safety rules as it resumed work at the Second Avenue Subway's 95th Street station site on March 21, a day after an SAS contractor trapped 75 ft below ground in mud up to his chest was rescued.
"Everyone in the area will work with harnesses, and all areas without any support under them will be marked off with cones," the agency said in a statement.