Where are the construction jobs?

One of the job sectors that suffered the most during the recession was construction. Review for us what happened to these jobs and whether they’re coming back.  N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Well, first of all, we had — as most people know — a housing boom during the decade from 1995 up through the mid 2000s, 2006 to be exact. And construction jobs boomed along with that housing boom.  In fact, construction jobs were up 44 percent in the nation and 40 percent here in North Carolina.

“Then of course, we had the housing crash, roughly from 2006 to just last year, 2012. Construction jobs fell. They were down 29 percent in the U.S., down 31 percent in North Carolina. Now we have been in the beginning stages of a housing recovery, which is very good for the country and for North Carolina.

“Housing prices are up. Sales are up, etcetera. But we’ve not yet seen this translated into a big rebound in construction jobs. They’re up, for example, in the last two years only 4 percent in the nation and they’re down 2 percent here in North Carolina. And so the question is why, and some argue that, well, there’s a lag between housing sales and housing permits and construction jobs. They argue that they will be coming, those jobs will be coming. Others are not so sure. They say, ’Hey, just like a lot of industries, construction may be going high tech.’ More factory production of construction parts.

“So we will have to wait and see. But there’s no question, if we do get a big rebound in construction jobs, that is going to help the unemployment rate go down very, very significantly.”

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