The healthier housing market and a slew of city towers going up are brightening job prospects for construction workers in California.
Employment in commercial and residential construction grew by 2,400 in March, according to Labor Department data analyzed by the Assn. of General Contractors. Since March 2013, the state's construction workforce has grown by 37,100, or 5.9%, nearly three times as fast as payroll employment across all industries.
Both the Los Angeles and Riverside metro areas added construction jobs this March, and building employment in both areas is at its highest level since 2009, though it remains well below the mark during the building boom of the mid-2000s.
On the commercial side, highway work is slowing down, but a wave of big office and apartment projects in the state's large cities is boosting construction payrolls, said Tom Holsman, chief executive of the AGC of California.
"Things like the Wilshire Grand in downtown L.A. The Hollywood area's got a lot of building going on," he said. "You're seeing an influx of private money building mega mixed-use projects."
Home construction, although still far below levels seen in the mid-2000s, has also bounced back a bit. Housing starts in metro L.A. in recent months have run about twice the rate seen in 2009 and 2010, and construction in the Inland Empire has picked up too, though not as quickly.
Tens of thousands of Southern California construction workers lost their jobs in the downturn, but many have moved on to other careers or parts of the country over the last six years. As a result, some home builders are concerned about their ability to find skilled labor as the market picks up again. The National Assn. of Home Builders this week said builders in several parts of the country are concerned that a lack of workers could damp their growth.
But Holsman suspects that commercial workers will migrate to home-building if they see opportunity there.
"It's a normal cycle," he said. "This stuff tends to balance itself out."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times