Building boom makes construction a hot job

July 31, 2015
Updated Aug. 1, 2015 8:32 a.m.
Salomon Herbert, 33, of Orange installs heating and air conditioning equipment at an Irvine home construction site. During the economic downturn, Herbert's employer cut more than 100 employees. Now, construction jobs are being added in Orange County.FILE: JOSHUA SUDOCK, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A local building boom has created heady demand for Orange County construction workers.

Orange County added 6,300 construction jobs in the past year, the seventh-biggest gain among the 358 major metro markets tracked by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Seattle added the most construction workers during the one-year period that ended in June – 11,300 jobs, followed by Denver (10,200); Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. (8,100); Los Angeles (8,000); Las Vegas (7,900) and the New York City region (7,200).

In the past year, jobs increased in 180 metro areas; declined in 127 and were flat in 51, the association analysis said.

The biggest job losses in construction over the past year were in: New Orleans (2,700); Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. (2,100), Akron, Ohio (1,700), and Bakersfield (1,500).

In Orange County, the new jobs reflect the quick pace of homebuilding, which jumped almost 38 percent during the first half of the year, buoyed mainly by construction of apartments and condos, according to recently released industry figures.

Building permits for apartments and condos jumped 55 percent to 4,562 units in the first half of 2015, according to the California Homebuilding Foundation’s Construction Industry Research Board.

That compares with the 2,940 “multifamily” units permitted during the first half of 2014.

Increased apartment construction could provide some relief to stressed renters who face rising lease rates and an extremely tight supply. But that relief will be limited, since most new apartments are at the high end of the price spectrum, with monthly rents above what many can afford.

The pace of new house construction has been up more modestly.

Industry figures show developers got 1,934 single-family permits in the first half of the year, only 162 more than during the first half of 2014. That amounts to a 9 percent gain.

Overall, builders took out permits to start building nearly 6,500 new homes so far this year, compared with just over 4,700 in the first half of 2014. At that pace, new construction is on track to beat last year’s 12-month tally of 9,800 units and 2013’s tally of just over 10,000 new homes.