Funding for Birmingham construction jobs has dried up

Nighttime photo of the federal building in Birmingham, Ala.

Birmingham construction jobs have tanked by 30 percent since 2007. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Birmingham City Data)

According to Alabama Live, approximately 30 percent of all Birmingham area construction jobs have dried up over the past three years. It isn’t because contracts are few and far between, report experts like Henry Hagood of Alabama Associated General Contractors. Corporate boards and CEOs simply haven’t had the confidence to sign off.

Birmingham construction jobs have followed the bubble

Like the construction industry in general since the start of the recession, Birmingham construction jobs have dried up steadily since 2007. Associated General Contractors indicate that the Birmingham-Hoover area construction industry had 28 percent fewer jobs in December 2010 than it did at its recent peak in October 2007. Over the same time span, Alabama experienced a 24 percent drop. Both trends are in line with the national average of 28 percent reduction in construction jobs, which makes construction one of the hardest-hit fields during the recession.

Rebound in 2011

Hagood, president of Alabama Associated General Contractors, is optimistic about Birmingham construction jobs this year. After bottoming out in the fourth quarter of 2009, jobs have been ever so slightly on the rise. Yet industry such as like John Wyatt of Birmingham-based contractor Gary C. Wyatt Inc. still see a harsh climate.

“While the data shows some rebound in construction jobs, the rebound may be short lived,” Wyatt said. “The availability of projects does not look to be increasing.”

Many contracts considered, yet few are funded

Hagood points to an increase in big contracts like the Westin Hotel, a baseball stadium and the move of a large medical center. Such projects could mean hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Birmingham and area construction jobs, but Wyatt believes the funding options simply aren’t viable. He believes a boost in consumer confidence will help grease the rails of lending, which is critical to improving both the Alabama construction industry and the economy as a whole. Private dollars via such avenues as Birmingham business installment loans must flow.

Sources

Alabama Live

Alabama governor candidate Robert Bentley on jobs for Alabamans

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