Seven of the 10 fastest-growing construction-job markets in the country are located in the state of Florida, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released recently by the Associated General Contractors of America.
The Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach metro area — essentially, all of Volusia County — tied with nine other areas with the 18th-fastest rate of construction-employment growth at 13 percent.
In raw numbers, according to the AGC data, Volusia saw the number of construction jobs grow from 12,700 to 14,300 during the survey period.
According to the AGC analysis, every metro area in the state experienced an increase in construction employment between September 2017 and September 2018 as firms worked to keep pace with growing demand for construction.
The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro area had the fastest rate of construction-employment growth nationwide during the September-to-September period (27 percent). The Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall metro area had the third-fastest growth rate (22 percent). Cape Coral-Fort Myers had the fifth-fastest rate (20 percent).
Also in the top 10 were the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford and Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach metro areas, which, at 17 percent, each tied for the seventh-fastest rate of job growth. And the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach and the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro areas tied for ninth-fastest rate at 15 percent each.
The job growth is a reflection of a sharp increase in construction work both locally and statewide.
Volusia County’s Economic Development Division reports the number of new residential-construction permits countywide in the third quarter of this year increased to 817, up from 690 permits in the second quarter and 548 in the first three-month period. Just 431 permits were issued for new homes in the final quarter of 2017.
Commercial permits were strong in the first two quarters of this year, with 64 in the first three months and 63 in the second quarter. But there were fewer than half as many — 30 — in the third quarter, slightly higher than the 25 permits issued in the final three months of last year.
AGC officials said Florida’s construction-employment gains were coming at a time when 79 percent of the state’s contractors report they are having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire.
“Construction jobs pay more than $30 an hour, on average, and don’t require students to amass college debt before entering training programs,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Our objective is to make it easier for even more Floridians and residents of other states to begin rewarding careers in construction.”
Bob Fitzsimmons, president of Gallery Homes of DeLand, agreed that the ranks of construction workers are pretty thin.
“We’re a medium-sized builder, and we’re having a hard time finding workers,” he said. “The real pressure is on wages — we’ve got to match what other companies are offering to keep the workers we have.”
The lack of workers also is causing builders like Gallery Homes to extend the timeline for completing projects.
“Over the past year, we’ve added nearly an additional month in our typical schedule,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’d rather wait a few days for the vendors [trades workers] we know than to hire someone we don’t know.”