More construction jobs as housing market bounces back

More construction jobs as housing market bounces back

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PHOENIX -

Construction equipment is a welcome sight in valley neighborhoods as builders and new projects get underway.

It's good news, especially for workers who depended on the valley's construction market for jobs.

The site at 7th Street and Missouri was vacant and fenced after a local homebuilder went under and couldn't complete the project. Now, a multi-million dollar project is underway.

The $27 million project is a senior apartment community of about 133 units in north central Phoenix.

Steadily trying to dig itself out a deep hole, valley construction is showing signs of life. Just ask workers who suddenly have a good paying job to go to.

"Hopefully things are looking up," says worker Don Young of the Pipeline Company.

Right now it's all about the jobs created.

"About 337 total full time jobs. Those are full time positions. If you look at part time positions included in that, it's almost 800 lives touched over the course of construction," says Jeff Gray of Wespac Construction.

Some are minimum wage jobs, others much higher. Bricklayers earn $18 an hour plus fringe benefits. Grader operators: $26 an hour plus fringe benefits.

The valley recorded 90,800 construction jobs this summer. While it's an increase over last year, a Bureau of Labor report says we still only employ half of the construction workers we did in 2006.

Many aren't ready to say this is the beginning of big things for construction in the valley, but it's a start.

"I think at least on the construction side it's going to be a little better. It's certainly not going to go up with the massive increase we saw several years ago," says Gray.

"I'm not going to be overly optimistic about what's happening right now… I've got more work than I've had in five years, but I'm not sure it's going to continue," says Young.

We were in a deep hole five years ago when it comes to construction, so it will take a lot of time to come back from the implosion.

Another challenge as we do come back -- finding experienced tradesmen. Don Young says they have just scattered to better states.

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