Josephine Co. only added one-third of construction jobs back since Great Recession

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — 10 years after the Great Recession, job markets like construction are still trying to catch up.

Josephine County is one of them.

While Josephine County has seen some job growth across multiple industries, construction employment is something economists say is a long way from getting back to pre-recession numbers.

“We really don’t see construction coming back to that level,” said Regional Economist for the Oregon Employment Department, “it was so much froth and so much speculative building.”

Only one-third of construction jobs, that’s how much the Oregon Employment Department says Josephine County has added back since the Great Recession.

“It was just really an unsustainable level of both price increase and run-up in building activity that just really wasn’t sustainable,” Tauer said.

He said it’s because of building permits.

“We had about over 500 residential building permits issued between about 2003 and 2007 in Josephine County, and that really dropped off the cliff during the Great Recession.”

The lowest year, 2011, saw less than 100 residential permits issued. While it’s now around 250, Tauer said that’s still a long way away from the 800 permits that were issued in mid-2005.

“While residential construction has come back a little bit, we’re just no where near the level of building activity in construction,” said Tauer, “so that does ripple through other areas in the economy as well.”

Tauer said they don’t anticipate construction employment coming back to pre-recession levels, but one thing that could help the labor supply is to not overlook trade jobs that could being that job growth back.

“Sometimes people tend to overlook some of the trade occupations as being solid career choices,” Tauer said.

Tauer said the drop is a result of people being afraid to re-enter the industry after the crash and finding other work.

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