Should we thank local real estate bosses? Or reach for the antacids?
Orange County bosses in real-estate related fields employed almost 1-in-5 workers in August, the highest share of local jobs in nearly 10 years. Yes, back when local property would prove to be badly overheated.
Let’s acknowledge that property-related employment can be extremely volatile work as these industries habitually have sharp peaks and valleys. Has anyone forgotten the broad pain of last decade’s busted housing bubble?
But don’t forget when real estate is hot, those jobs and related spending pad the checkbooks of folks in and out of the industry. So do we celebrate … or worry about the possibility of a brewing bubble?
State jobs data, parsed by my trusty spreadsheet, shows 256,700 people working last month in property-related fields in Orange County — construction, real estate transactions, lending, building supply, design and building services. That’s almost as large as the flock toiling at local warehouses, trucking firms and utilities — and it’s bigger than all local government workers or jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry.
It adds up like this: Real estate work represented 19.5 percent of all Orange County jobs in August vs. 18.8 percent a year ago, and its the highest slice of the job market since October 2007. Note: Since 2000, real estate’s been responsible for 18 percent of all local jobs.
And it could be a glum economy if it wasn’t for real estate. Real estate bosses have been a local hiring standout, adding 2,200 jobs last month vs. a combined drop of 3,600 at all other workplaces. In the past year, real estate employment grew 7,500 jobs — 3 percent — while other Orange County jobs fell by 6,600 — a 0.5 percent dip.
Construction work is driving the real estate surge with 105,000 employed last month, up 6,100 — or 6.2 percent — in a year and the third consecutive month above 100,000. The last time this number of construction workers were employed in Orange County was a 30-month streak between 2005 and 2007.
Executives in the building trades say job growth would be higher but there aren’t enough skilled construction workers to hire. With Orange County construction workers in high demand, weekly wages in the first quarter rose 9.5 percent higher vs. a year ago.
Other real estate niches are hiring, too.
Local lenders employed 43,100 last month, up 500 in a year. Architectural and engineering services’ 25,900 jobs are up 500 in…