LC Bulletin: Construction springing back

April 2, 2010. Retrieved online: April 5, 2010, from Gabriel Vasquez, Las Cruces Bulletin

It’s no surprise the construction industry in New Mexico has lost more than 8,300 jobs since January 2009.

It’s also no secret that other good-producing industries such as mining and manufacturing have discarded more than 6,000 other jobs in the state during that same time.

But there’s a sliver of hope for Las Cruces, which in the past has been described by economists as being somewhat “immune” to the global economic recession.

“We have been less affected by the national business cycle than other areas,” said economist and New Mexico State University business professor Chris Erickson. “Las Cruces is on the edge of recovery.”

Erickson said typically construction and construction-related employment sees gains early in a recovery, but the most recent recession is like none other in history.

“It started with the burst of the real estate bubble and real estate remains overbuilt nationally, although the problem is less extreme locally,” he said. “So while construction is normally a leader in coming out of a recession, this time it may be a laggard.”

Declining construction employment in Las Cruces has been evident since 2008, with the industry experiencing more than two years of consecutive negative job growth.

The latest numbers from the Department of Workforce Solutions indicate 400 construction jobs were lost from January 2010 to February 2010, but those numbers should decrease as the spring building season gets into swing.

Also optimistic is David Roewe, executive director of the Building Industry Association of Southern New Mexico, who said 2010 should be a much better year for businesses associated with the building trade.

“We’ve already hit rock bottom. We’ve leveled off,” he said. “I think 2010 will be a pretty good year, especially for home sales and construction starts. That’s what national economists are saying about this region and others who are putting us at the top of their lists.”

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