Florida leads nation in new construction jobs
By Marcia Heroux Pounds
November 24, 2014 J. Antonio Villamil, economist with The Washington Economics Group, is a JMI Senior Fellow as part of the Research Advisory Board. He is quoted in this article.
Florida led the nation in new construction jobs in October, adding 10.4 percent, or 40,100 jobs since the year before, according to the state.
The swell in construction jobs was particularly evident in South Florida. Miami-Dade County had the biggest growth, 12.3 percent or 4,400 new jobs. Palm Beach County was up 7.6 percent, with 2,100 more construction jobs, and Broward added 1,700 construction jobs, up 4.9 percent from October 2013, according to new data.”We’re not at the 2006 peak, but maybe we shouldn’t be,” said J. Antonio Villamil, economist with The Washington Economics Group. “The increases are healthier than the speculative increases we saw through 2004 to 2006.”Population growth, foreign investment, improved employment and low-rate mortgages are contributing to more condominiums, apartments and other residential construction, he said.”We’re starting to attract younger millennials. Broward is having success in corporate headquarters. This all increases the demand for apartments and good housing,” Villamil said.At the same time, developers aren’t overdoing it because banks are being more stringent about financing new projects.”Developers have to put more skin in the game. There are a lot of pre-sold units. It’s not like the go-go days,” he said.Apartments and condominiums are driving much of the construction in Palm Beach and Broward counties.The Related Group of Florida is building SoFa 1 and 2, a 172-unit apartment project south of Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach as well as Hyde Resort & Residences in Hollywood.Related announced last week plans to start construction in December or January on the long-stalled Icon Las Olas residential development along the north bank of the New river.While homebuilders are limited by land constraints in Palm Beach and Broward counties, Sunrise-based GL Homes remains active in southernPalm Beach County. GL is building Tuscany, a 454-home community near Delray Beach, and also is working on two luxury developments, Seven Bridges and The Bridges near Boca Raton.Nationwide, construction firms added jobs in 37 states and the District of Columbia between October 2013 and October 2014, with Florida and North Dakota showing the largest 12-month gains, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.Despite the increase, AGC economist Ken Simonson warned that the industry’s recovery remains unsteady.”Construction is doing well in most of the country,” Simonson said. “Yet, the list of states that have added construction jobs varies from month to month, showing that the industry’s recovery remains vulnerable to worker shortages and unfavorable governmental actions.”