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Construction flexes economic muscle

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

During the past year, Oregon employers added 58,100 nonfarm jobs, a 3.5% gain. Of all sectors, construction added the most jobs (11,400) and grew the fastest (12.7%), more than three times the national rate of construction growth. The turnaround for Oregon’s construction industry came in July 2003, after losing 8,600 jobs (10%) during the recession. Rapid growth has touched all parts of the industry. Residential building jobs climbed 20% over the past year. Oregon housing permits jumped 14% in 2005, the seventh-fastest in the United States, as low interest rates, a growing population, second-home purchases, innovative mortgages, and speculative buying in markets such as Ashland and Bend boosted the state’s housing market. Meanwhile, year-over-year growth in commercial and industrial construction topped 17% in May. Hospitals, shopping centers, and medical offices are being built throughout the state. Also under construction are a minimum-security prison in Madras, Google’s plant in The Dalles, Lowe’s 1.4 million-square-foot distribution center north of Lebanon and Symantec’s 200,000-square-foot Springfield addition. Sewer work, road repair, and other infrastructure improvements are also keeping heavy and civil engineering firms busy, with nearly 400 Oregon bridges targeted for repair.

— Amy Vander Vliet, regional economist
Oregon Employment Department

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