Have you heard? Our little neighbor to the south has been on a tear lately, ranking second in the nation in new construction job growth, extremely low unemployment, and a booming services sector. Civil engineering, structural engineering, roofing and paving, and landscape architecture jobs abound in Southern Utah and St. George is benefiting. The National Bureau of Labor Statistics has labeled St. George a “dynamic” growth environment in relation to the metropolitan growth of the construction sector.
St. George’s success doesn’t surprise most people. The St. George area has seen 5% job growth in the past year, well outpacing the national average and other metros of similar size in the region. Simply put, St. George has population growth, and the continual construction needs to support a healthy construction environment.
In broader Utah, construction has been growing at an 8% rate, which is incredibly high. Few other states are showing construction growth at this level. The latest unemployment rates for Utah released in August point to a healthy job sector and steady employment. The state unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation at 2%. Contrast that with the national unemployment rate, which is 3.5%.
Where the growth is happening
One factor that points to a healthy construction and civil engineering outlook for St. George is the growing amount of building permits issued in the last 3 to 5 years. There is a ton of construction, civil engineering and structural engineering activity going on in and around the St. George area.
Take residential construction as just one example. The percentage of residential homes permitted and entering construction has been increasing year-over-year since 2015. One could even look as far back as 2010 to see the explosive growth. The increase is due to several factors. They include:
- Population growth from retirees looking for a place to permanently retire.
- Families looking for better educational opportunities for their children.
- A wealth of outdoor activities and natural beauty on all sides.
- A stable environment where jobs are plentiful and one’s essential living needs are met.
While the number of building permits issued declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, things are again looking up. Permitting is once again on the rise, especially in the industrial and commercial building sectors. And the number of building permits issued this year has almost doubled all last year for permits issued. Things are looking good for the construction sector and civil engineering in St. George, Utah!
Will a recession blunt St. George’s growth?
Many analysts have been predicting a recession, saying a big one is coming in the near future. These predictions have been put forth by economists and specialists within certain fields, with estimations of a recession hitting the national economy within one to two years, if we are not in one already. Yet others do not see that happening. Other economic indicators point to a healthier economic situation.
There are multiple facets to a recession, and though it is unknown at the moment if there will be a recession in the future, a closer look at recession indicators doesn’t point to a crash. The U.S. labor market is strong, the unemployment rate is very low, and there are lots of job openings. This serves as a buffer against the possibility of a recession. So, perhaps it is premature to sound the alarm about a recession just yet.
And even if there was a recession, how badly would it impact St. George? Utah has been a hot spot for growth in three categories of employment industries. Construction is at the forefront with a rapid 8% growth rate, while the retail and trade industry has been blossoming with a nearly 7% growth, and lastly, the leisure and hospitality industry produces 14% of all jobs within the state’s economy. And St. George sits at the front of this pack. We’re happy to report they’ll be growing for a long time to come.
Are you a business or public entity in St. George, Utah in need of civil engineering, structural engineering, roofing, paving, laser scanning, or landscape architecture services? Contact your friends at McNeil Engineering today!