California’s real estate industry — powered by low mortgage rates, a homebuying binge and a construction push — is nearly back to its pre-pandemic employment levels.
When my trusty spreadsheet looked at state jobs data, 15 property-related categories had a total 2.92 million workers in April — down only 43,500 from February 2020, just before COVID-19 chilled the economy.
That means real estate jobs statewide are at 99% recovery, just shy of employment levels of late winter 2020. Note that many real estate workers are independent contractors and their jobs are not captured by official employment counts.
Compare that performance to how all other California bosses managed their staffing. The 13.3 million jobs in all other industries statewide fell by 1.3 million in 14 months. That puts the rest of California at 91% of pre-pandemic employment.
Real estate’s been so robust that three of its job categories have more workers than they did in February 2020. All are construction-related fields: Architectural/engineering, construction of buildings and building material stores.
Outside of real estate, California industries above pre-pandemic job counts include transportation and warehousing, family services, electronics manufacturing and grocery stores.
Real estate’s hardest-hit sector was leasing, which reflects the challenges landlords faced during the pandemic. Still, its workforce is at 88% of pre-virus level — nowhere near the weak rebound in California’s tourism, recreation and entertainment businesses with staffing running two-thirds of February 2020.
Clearly, real estate has played a big role in keeping the state’s economy afloat as it struggled to tame the killer virus. It will certainly be fascinating to watch how real estate does after the economy fully reopens after June 15. One potential problem: A stronger national economy could push up interest rates and alter enthusiasm for real estate investments.
Here’s how the 15 real estate job niches have fared since February 2020: Share of previous employment count, current workforce and 14-month change (ranked in order of percentage recovery) …
Real estate leasing: 88% of February 2020 — its 60,200 workers in April are down 7,900 in 14 months.
Furniture manufacturing: 89% — 29,000 workers, down 3,600.
Furniture/furnishings stores: 89% — 46,700 workers, down 5,600.
Real estate brokerages: 92% — 50,400 workers, down 4,200.
Building services: 95% — 239,400 workers, down 13,900.
Construction material wholesalers: 96% — 23,100 workers, down 1,000.
Property management: 97% — 109,600 workers, down 3,200.
Wood-product manufacturing: 98% — 25,500 workers, down 600.
Specialty trade contractors: 98% — 581,000 workers, down 11,800.
Heavy construction: 98% — 90,500 workers, down 1,500.
Construction: 99% — 882,200 workers, down 9,700.
Lending: 100% — 242,200 workers, down 900.
Architectural/engineering: 101% — 189,000 workers, up 1,200.
Construction of buildings: 102% — 210,700 workers, up 3,600.
Building material stores: 113% — 138,600 workers, up 15,600.
Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Orange County Register