ORLANDO – As the economy continues to recover, one industry in particular appears to be making a sharp comeback, and that’s the field of construction. And that’s been particularly true here in Florida, according to the nation’s top construction industry group.
According to the report released on March 25 by the Associated General Contractors of America Association, California led the nation by adding the most construction jobs last year — 53,800 altogether, a 7.6 percent jump between February 2015 and February 2016.
But Florida was close behind, adding 25,800 jobs, a 6.2 percent increase, in the past year.
The construction industry is making a rebound just as Florida’s economy appears to be becoming one of the strongest in the nation. Last week, Gov. Rick Scott announced that the Orlando area was leading the state in terms of job growth, adding 53,900 new private-sector jobs over the year in January. That was the highest number of new jobs among all Florida metro areas. The Orlando area’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7 percent in January, below the national average of 4.9 percent.
“More than one million jobs have been created in Florida in only five years,” the governor noted in a news release.
The improvement in construction jobs is reflected in the rising number of new construction projects – in downtown Orlando alone, a host of new apartment and condominium projects have recently been built or are now in the construction phase.
But the growth isn’t limited to downtown Orlando, noted An Flamand, the owner and broker at An Flamand Orlando Vacation Realty. She pointed out that the new construction projects in Lake, Osceola and Polk counties are on the rise including one of her exclusive Sales developments, Posner Estates.
Posner Estates is being built in Polk County near the Posner Park commercial and Shopping plaza. This development will offer new Courtyard villas with private pools perfectly located near I4 with easy access to both coastal beaches, immediate connection to the theme parks, just minutes away from shopping, movie theatre, golf courses and restaurants.
According to the report by the Associated General Contractors, most of the nation has been experiencing a healthy boom in new construction. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs over the past year, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Labor Department.
The association noted that some states that rely on the oil industry – including Texas and North Dakota – have seen a drop in demand for construction as energy prices continue falling. North Dakota lost the highest percent and total number of construction jobs – down by 5,300 jobs, a 14.5 percent drop.
“The pullback in energy prices and farm income appeared to be dampening demand for construction in some states while firms in other states continue to expand,” the report noted, while Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association, was quoted in the report saying “In most of the country, construction continues to outpace other industries in adding jobs. Contractors remain upbeat about demand for many types of projects, but they are having difficulty finding enough qualified workers.”
In fact, the association is cautioning that labor shortages could become a critical issue for the construction industry in the coming months.
“Without additional programs to recruit and prepare new workers, especially at the high school level, firms may not be able to find new workers as demand for their services continues to expand,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..