One-third of Utah's construction jobs eliminated even while building permits are on the rise

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Building permits reached a new high for the months of June through August, compared to permits issued in 2008 for the same time period. However, that is still lower, more than 50 percent, off the 2007 permits issued, according to statistics from Utah State Construction Registry.
According to a Department of Workforce Services employment report, “Since July 2007, one-third of all Utah construction jobs have been eliminated.” Washington County, once a mecca of the booming housing industry, has been especially hard hit.
 
Kent Farnsworth, a licensed Utah contractor living in the county, said in an interview that: “New construction jobs have been non existent and many of the new home permits may have been obtained by larger construction and land development companies in the area. Having the property already in hand is an advantage over the smaller contractor who would need to obtain a building loan and lot to construct a home.”
 
Impacted dramatically by the economic slow down, many small contractors are doing what they can to stay busy. Farnsworth said he is staying busy by working with banks fixing up foreclosed properties. The recent rainstorms have also helped him pick up a few more jobs repairing leaks.
 
Banks have been cautious in regards to lending money for new home construction, when so many existing homes are being foreclosed according to Farnsworth.
 
According to Reality Trac, 463 foreclosure filings took place in the month of August in the county, ranking it third highest among all other Utah counties.
 
Construction is one of three industries that continue to show job losses in Utah. Though there are signs of stability, it may be years before there is significant growth to recapture the massive job losses that took place in the local housing industry, according to a Utah Department of Workforce report.

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