Boston Construction Industry Enjoying Strong Rebound

Activity within the Boston construction industry has seen a noticeable spike as of late, and Thomas J. Mayo says it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Crippled in recent years by a recession that hit it harder than most, the construction industry is finally showing signs of life again in Boston with the growing number of new construction projects, especially in the areas of rental towers and academic projects.

Mayo, the chief estimator/director of preconstruction services for Boston-based Karas & Karas Glass Co. Inc., says the dramatic change in fortunes has been noticeable over the past year especially.

“There’s a ton of construction going on here,” he says. “There’s a ton of work going on. Everybody’s busy and that’s good.”

In August, Boston added more construction jobs than any other U.S. metropolitan area except for the Los Angeles area, even ranking ahead of such building-heavy locales such as Houston, Atlanta and Phoenix, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

Boston is just one of many areas to witness a surge in the vitality of the construction industry says Ken Simonson, the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. Overall construction employment increased in 39 states over the past 12 months, according to the AGC, accounting for the most widespread industry gains since April 2012.

“It is encouraging that three-quarters of the states are now adding construction jobs on a year-over-year basis,” Simonson says. “Employment increases are still intermittent in too many states, however, and nearly all states are far below their pre-recession highs.”

Even that’s just fine right about now after several years of erratic workloads and unemployment rates as high as 20 percent among both construction and glass industry workers, whose livelihoods are tied to the construction industry.

Recovery has been slow in coming, but remains steady. Since August 2012, the state of Massachusetts has added 6,300 construction jobs, ranking it 11th nationally, according to the AGC. Mississippi paced all states with a 19-percent increase (+9,300 jobs) in construction employment between October 2012 and October 2013.

Several factors have driven the particular recent uptick in Boston, including pent-up demand for housing, easier availability for financing and the bevy of college and universities located in the metro Boston area, Mayo says.

Joe Murray, the owner of Boston’s JK Glass Co., says he’s thrilled to see things finally beginning to turn around. His company has been forced to hire roughly 45 new work crew members within the last year, while also increasing administrative staff to meet the growing demand for services.

But Murray says it’s a good problem to have.

“What we’ve seen in Boston,” he says, “is that people got tired of sitting on the sidelines. They wanted to get their money back in the field.”

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