BOSTON (SHNS) – The construction of Wynn Resorts’ palatial Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett generated about $1.6 billion of net new economic activity in Massachusetts and created or supported about 2,500 jobs that earned a cumulative $1 billion of personal income, a study of the project found.
One of the primary arguments in favor of legalizing casino gaming here almost a decade ago was that the construction of the facilities would create jobs, provide opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses, and spur economic activity in the Bay State. A UMass Donahue Institute study presented to the Gaming Commission on Thursday found that the state’s second full-scale casino did just that.
“We found that the $1.6 billion in construction spending created $2.6 billion of total economic activity and the related income and jobs that would be needed to produce that,” Rod Motamedi, a senior research manager for the UMass Donahue Institute, said Thursday.
Wynn Resorts spent about $1.6 billion on the construction of Encore Boston Harbor. The casino is often referred to as a $2.6 billion project because of the other costs associated with it, like the land purchase, license application fee, the cost of furnishing the hotel and casino, and other non-construction expenses.
Of that $1.6 billion in construction spending, almost three-quarters of it (about $1.1 billion) remained in Massachusetts with local companies. Suffolk County companies, like construction manager Suffolk Construction, got about 27 percent of the business or $425.4 million worth of contracts, followed by Middlesex County companies that pulled in 15 percent of the work or about $236.8 million.
The roughly $446 million of construction spending that left Massachusetts was distributed among 36 states with Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York accounting for more than $200 million of the total, Motamedi said. About $71 million went outside the country.
Between the start of site remediation in the fall of 2015 and the casino’s June 23, 2019 opening, an estimated 6,700 individuals worked on the site at some point, Motamedi said, and worked a cumulative total of 5.2 million man-hours. The average hours per worker was just more than 760 hours, or about 19 total 40-hour weeks. When converted to full-time equivalents, the total hours worked results in nearly 2,500 FTEs, Motamedi said.
“The average worker received roughly $36,500 in total compensation at an average hourly rate of $47.89 per hour,” the report found. Based on a nationwide average of hourly compensation for construction workers of $35.83 and state-specific data that shows Massachusetts construction compensation tends to be about 30 percent higher than the national average, the report concluded that compensation for work at Encore was “at least in line with state norms if not higher.”
About half of the roughly 6,700 people who worked on the Encore project live in Middlesex or Suffolk counties, mostly within the casino’s host or surrounding communities — Everett, Medford, Malden, Boston, Lynn, Somerville, Cambridge and Melrose.
“When the estimates of total economic impacts are compared to Encore Boston Harbor’s construction expenditures, the results show that every $1.55 of construction spending created about $1 of additional economic activity in Massachusetts and every in-state job created another 0.85 jobs elsewhere in the Commonwealth,” the Donahue Institute report found.
Of all the construction hours worked at the casino site, 46 percent were worked by people who were identified as Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian, with the remaining 54 percent being worked by people identified as “white/other.” By comparison, 63 percent of Everett’s working-age population identifies as Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian.
About six percent of the construction hours at Encore were worked by veterans, mirroring the percentage of the state’s total construction workforce that veterans make up. Female workers accounted for about 7 percent of all construction hours, again mirroring the proportion of women in the construction field overall in Massachusetts.
“Though low in absolute terms, this finding reflects the ongoing low share of women in construction occupations, which nationally is also in the single digits,” the report said. “Furthermore, the share of total hours worked by women is equal to the proportion of Massachusetts construction workers who are female.”
Motamedi explained that he added the roughly $1.147 billion of in-state construction spending to about $1.474 billion in other new activity to arrive at an estimate of $2.621 billion in total new activity generated by the Encore Boston Harbor project.
Subtracting the $1.037 billion worth of goods and services used up to create that new activity, Motamedi arrived at the finding of roughly $1.584 billion in net new economic activity spurred by the casino project.