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NYC housing construction struggles to keep pace with job growth: study

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The city’s economy is strong, but a lack of housing may be holding it back, according to a new study

Several glass high-rise apartment buildings in Long Island City, Queens.
Housing construction in Long Island City, Queens.
Max Touhey

New York City’s housing construction has continued its struggle to keep pace with the city’s job creation, according to a new study by listing platform Apartment List.

The survey reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2008 and 2018, finding that an average of two new housing units per 1,000 residents were permitted in New York, but over that same period the city added some four jobs per 1,000 residents.

Even as New York City’s population has shrunk over the past couple of years, it has created jobs at a faster pace than the U.S. as a whole, which saw 1.7 percent job growth in the 12 months between July 2017 and July 2018, according to census data.

Across the country, new construction ground to a halt during the national housing market collapsed amid the subprime mortgage crisis. In the subsequent years of recovery, construction of single-family homes has been slow to recover, while multi-family construction rebounded at a quicker rate, according to the Apartment List study.

Since 2006, New York City’s production of multifamily housing stock has surged ahead of the country’s average with multi-family units accounting for 76 percent of all housing permits filed. That’s compared to 45 percent in the pre-recession period between 1990 to 2005, according to census data. Nationally, the multi-family permit share increased from 23.4 percwn in the pre-recession period to 33.9 percent since 2006, the study found.

The city’s housing shortage is most acute in the city center where affordable housing is the most difficult to find, forcing New Yorkers to sacrifice lower rents for longer commutes, the data shows.