Construction starts continue to decline - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Construction starts continue to decline

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Georgia's construction industry has been more like a house of cards than one with a sturdy foundation lately. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry has cut 37,100 jobs in the last year.

Local companies told us they've had to lay off workers and get competitive to land jobs.

Just drive Albany's Westside and you'll see plenty of construction crews hard at work building the Mt. Zion Church, the new Homerun Foods at Gillionville and Westover and three new buildings on Darton College's campus, but that's just it, it's commercial construction that seems to be doing well, while residential construction is on life support.

In the construction industry these days it's bulldozer versus backhoe. With fewer jobs it's more competitive than ever for the companies that haven't met the wrecking ball.

"You have to fight for every job you get, because there's so many companies going after every project," said John Anderson of Jim Boyd Construction.

Jim Boyd Construction who typically does some residential subdivision work says those projects no longer exist.

"Residential construction is way down because houses aren't selling," said Anderson.

In Albany and Dougherty County over the last two months, planning officials say they've only issued as many as two residential building permits, while commercial work remains steady. Hollis & Spann is building Albany's newest Marriott hotel and say they've seen no change in the amount of their commercial work.

"One right after the other with this company," said Donald Pirkle of Hollis & Spann, Inc. 

But with most companies who haven't been able to pick up that commercial work, it's meant layoff and cut backs to the tune of more than 37,000 Georgia jobs.

"I've had a lot of friends that are electricians and plumbers and such especially some residential guys that have been laid off and out of work for a while," said Pirkle.

That's a major trickle down effect from the downturn in construction.

Planning officials say it's hard to predict what the industry will do next, because many projects under construction now have been in the works for months or years. There is a silver lining however, the Albany-Dougherty Planning Office says they currently have plans for as many as eight commercial projects waiting for approval.

Firms say the backlog of work for the second half of 2009 and all of 2010 is just a fraction of what firms had booked just two years ago.

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