Lee County, GA (WALB) – Nationally, construction activity surged in April by the largest amount in nearly a decade. The unexpected surge could mean that the hardest hit sector of the economy, home construction, is starting to recover.
The good news is jobs. The Southwest Georgia home builders association is seeing an upswing in their business in recent months, and with it more construction workers earning paychecks again.
Jack Daniel Garrett, Southwest Georgia Home Builders Assoc. President, sees positive signs for the home building industry on Kendal Lane.
"You probably got 40 people working on this street now, on three different houses here. Which is really good," Garrett said.
Garrett's construction company closed one house Friday, and now has eight others being built. And he sees more buyers coming.
"We've had good traffic. People coming in to look at houses for the past two or three weeks," Garrett said.
Dougherty County reports single family residence building permits show signs of growth. In all 2009 there were only 32 permits issued. So far in the first five months of 2010 there have been 28.
Dougherty County Planning and Development Services Manager is Tracy Hester "It's amazing what the single family market does for a community the size of Albany. It's tremendous, how many times that one dollar is used," he said.
In Lee County the numbers have been about the same through March. In 2009 there were 47 new home permits issued, in 2010 there were 39. But Garrett says in recent weeks he has really seen the number of home builders and sub-contractors working jump.
"As you create more house, you create more jobs. You create more service industries. All this just feeds everything. It's just like a domino effect, if we can just get it to start," Garrett said.
Garrett and the Southwest Georgia home builders association sees a few signs of consumer confidence in the Dougherty and Lee County area started to rebound after two disastrous years. And they hope it means the housing crisis is starting to improve.
Garrett said in 2008, before the housing market crash, there were about 180 members in Southwest Georgia home builders association. Now there are only 123 members left in business, and they hope an improvement in the housing market will keep them all working.
The Commerce Department says private residential construction nationally jumped more than four percent in April; the first positive gain since March 2009, and the biggest one month construction improvement this decade.
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