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Construction jobs drop due to recession, housing market

Construction jobs drop due to recession, housing market

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Numbers from the Utah Department of Workforce Services show the recession and the burst of the housing market bubble have taken a huge bite out of construction jobs.

A report from the department says since July 2007, a third of all Utah construction jobs have been eliminated. Chief Economist Mark Knold says right now, we're holding steady.

"We're at the bottom on the construction activity," he says, "but I'm not seeing a strong rebound coming out the other side, not for a couple of years."

He describes the construction industry struggles as widespread in the state, but concentrated in St. George, which he says you can compare to Las Vegas, Arizona and Southern California as being considered part of the "Sun Belt."

"That was like Ground Zero, really, for the housing activity, the housing bubble in the United States," Knold says.

He says construction jobs started disappearing in St. George a full year before they disappeared on the Wasatch Front.

"We peaked out [in] August 2007 around 103,000 jobs. We've fallen back to 65,000 to 70,000 jobs," Knold says.

The earliest he believes the industry would rebound is in the spring of 2011, but he cautions it could still be years past that before a true rebound occurs, if at all.

He says the only reason losing a third of all Utah construction jobs in three years hasn't had more of an impact on the state's jobless rate is because of the workforce that's been doing the work. He describes it as being largely migratory and transient -- so when the jobs dried up in places like St. George, many of those workers simply went somewhere else.


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Becky Bruce


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