Gomez/Eugenios, Permit Fees storyboard

Two charts for the wages of DOB-related jobs
Two charts for the wages of DOB-related jobs

Byline: Camilo Gomez and Jillian Eugenios
Hede: How much does a DOB license fee really cost?
Slug: Permit Fees

Key elements:
Permit fees per job
Median annual wage per job
Jobs listed with DOB
Information on where permit fees go

News hook:
Construction jobs are on the rise, in an industry that has continued to show healthy growth post-recession. However, many of those jobs require permits that must be renewed every one to three years, bringing into question whether or not some pay too much based on how much they earn.

Description of data and link:
Department of Buildings information on NYC Open Source Data
https://data.cityofnewyork.us/Business/DOB-License-Fees/vi6e-zw9u

Findings:
Since the information in NYC Open Data dated from 2009 we visited the DOB site to get updated information: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/development/licensing_main.shtml.

We clicked through each job permit below the heading “Select a category” and built our own updated excel spreadsheet.

We then picked applicable information on wages from the New York state’s Department of Labor information about New York City wages: http://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/lswage2.asp#47-0000.

Nevertheless, we realized that wages for construction jobs are broken down into categories that do not match exactly the categories of license permits from the DOB­—for instance, the DOB has separate permits for “Master riggers” and “Special riggers” with different permit fees for each, while the wage information for the job of “rigger” in the Department of Labor is under one single category. Furthermore, many of the jobs for which the DOB issues license fees are lumped together in the Department of Labor’s wage data under one same category. We contacted both the Department of Labor and the DOB to get further information and were told that the data we have is the best data we can get. For this reason we believe that in order to draw a sensible comparison between license fees and expected wages we will have to take the fees of those jobs that are lumped together at the Department of Labor and draw an average of how much these workers have to pay for their licenses. As to the question of where the money that the DOB charges for the license fees goes, Everton Harris from the DOB told us on the phone that it “goes to New York City”. We sent him an email asking him to transmit our question to somebody capable of answering it in more detail.

As our sketch shows, we are planning to have two graphs: a scatterplot with “license fees” on the y-axis and “average yearly wage” on the x-axis. We expect that jobs that pay more will have proportionately higher license fees. This graph will allow us to find any outliers that pay disproportionate amounts.

The other image is a line chart of money spent in license fees and renewals over the years for each job. If the amount paid for renewals in each job rises proportionately over time, the gradient of each line should be the same. Nonetheless, it isn’t.

Sources:

Elena Volovelsky
Labor Market Analyst
NYS Department of Labor
212 775 3332

James Brown
Labor Market Analyst
NYS Department of Labor
212 775 3330

Everton Harris
NYC Department of Buildings
212 393 2126
evharris@buildings.nyc.gov

Tweets:
DOB construction job fees. Why are some more expensive than others?

New York’s most important behind-the-scenes jobs and what they have to pay for their permits.