MANHATTAN — The city’s construction employment levels for the first quarter of 2012 were the lowest since 1999, according to a New York Building Congress report released Thursday of New York State Department of Labor employment statistics.
Employment fell 3 percent to 102,600 from the year before, the report said.
But even as construction jobs dropped, the Building Congress is predicting a rosier future.
Construction jobs fell overall in 2011 by a whopping 22 percent from the building boom of 2008 when there were 131,800 workers employed in the sector. Still, the Building Congress anticipates a rise to 120,800 jobs this year. (Construction employment tends to be lower in the first quarter winter months because companies tend to reduce their payrolls then, the organization noted.)
"While this sector represents just 5 percent of the industry's employment, the year-to-year reduction in these jobs is a source of concern as it suggests that private sector firms are laying off workers as a result of decreased government spending," Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson said in a statement.
"On a brighter note," he added, "we are encouraged by the uptick in employment for buildings workers, which suggests that private sector developers and institutions are beginning to invest once again in residential, commercial and institutional properties."
Also, despite the dip in construction employment, the sector has seen average wage increases — which are only expected to rise, the Building Congress said.
Construction workers are expected to see their annual earnings this year top $70,000 for the first time, the organization predicted. Annual earnings reached $69,7000 in 2010 and $69,300 in 2009.