Even though metro-area jobs have hit a record, construction work is well below its peak.

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One big sector in the Puget Sound region that hasn’t recovered from the Great Recession is construction.

That seems to make no sense considering all the cranes on the Seattle skyline. Yet even though overall employment has hit a new record here, the level of construction jobs for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area looks like this:


The answer is found here:


In other words, housing starts are at a lower point than any time since the 1990 recession caused by the S&L collapse and its effect on real estate. Multi-family housing and office buildings are going strongly, but they don’t employ as many people as the single-family subdivisions fueled by easy credit that preceded the boom.

Demand hasn’t recovered for at least two reasons: a large inventory of bank-owned houses on the fringes with relatively few takers, and the preference (so far) of millennials and others for in-city living, including in apartments. It can’t help that so many households saw their wealth destroyed in the downturn and are unable to buy even if they wanted to.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

IBM presents

China high-end server plans

 Just call it Big Red