Texas construction employment remains strong; Houston slowsTexas construction employment remains strong; Houston slowshttps://www.recenter.tamu.edu/news/newstalk-texas/?Item=120672016-02-09T06:00:00Z2016-02-09T14:00:00Z

​​TEXAS - Texas registered the fifth lowest construction unemployment rate in the country in December, even as Houston's building boom slowed.

The state's construction unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent in December, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Mild weather in Texas and much of the country kept a lid on the normal seasonal increase in construction unemployment in December. When the ground is frozen, foundations can't be dug and, if it's too cold, concrete can't be poured without adding chemicals or bringing in heaters.

States with the lowest December construction unemployment rates were Colorado at 4.3 percent, Georgia at 4.4 percent, Virginia at 4.7 percent, and New Hampshire at 4.9 percent. The rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Last year, Texas ranked No. 1 for the lowest construction unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in December 2014, followed by Georgia, Utah, North Carolina and Colorado.

Still, the December 2015 rate of 5.2 percent is the second lowest for a December since 2008. The rate compares with a December peak of 16.8 percent in 2009.

The number shows that Texas is more than just energy, said Markstein, chief economist at Markstein Advisors. As energy companies have pulled back and office vacancy rates have risen, construction has slowed.

Apartment construction is also expected to shrink, according to Apartment Data Services. 

More than 29,000 units in 102 properties are under construction in the Houston area, with about 20,000 of those units planned to open this year.

Homebuilders are projected to start 9 percent fewer homes in the Houston area this year, according to housing research firm Metrostudy. That would amount to 25,500 homes.

Houston Chronicle
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