The construction industry was going full steam ahead in November, according to a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America.

Construction spending totaled $1.324 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in November, up 0.6 percent from October and up 4.1 percent from November 2018, according to estimates AGC shared from the U.S. Census Bureau. There were year-over-year increases in all major segments — public, private residential and private nonresidential.

“Both the actual spending totals for November and our members’ expectations for 2020 point to a continuing uptick in construction employment,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, in a news release. “It’s likely that even more metros would have added workers recently if unemployment weren’t at record lows in many areas.”

The Volusia/Flagler area, where unemployment is estimated at 3%, the point at which most economists consider full employment, mirrors the AGC’s national outlook.

The AGC reported the Volusia/Flagler area had an estimated 15,700 construction jobs in November, up 1,300 jobs or 9%, which ranks it at 18th in the nation in construction employment growth.

In the two county area, it is mostly housing construction leading the way. In November, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the Volusia/Flagler area saw permits issued for 210 new housings units, 198 single-family houses, compared to 199 permits in November 2018 with 191 single-family. For the first 11 months of the year, permits were issued for 3,099 new housing units, 2,432 single-family, compared to 2,379 with 2,045 single-family in 2018. The Census report only covers about 65% of the two-county area, leaving out some municipalities and the unincorporated area of Volusia County, so the number are actually much higher.

The construction industry is still having some struggles, but not with demand for its products.

“The single greatest threat to continued growth in the construction industry is the shortage of qualified candidates for firms to hire,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO in the news release. “That is why Congress and the Trump administration must act quickly to boost investments in career and technical education, and allow more people with construction skills to legally enter the country.”

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The commercial real estate market was busy going into the end of the year. Some recent deals included a California family trust buying the Karavan Trailers plant on Relocation Road in Edgewater for $3.55 million. Boca Raton investors bought the apartments at 1890 S. Palmetto Ave. in South Daytona for $2.175 million. Richmond American Homes bought land across Hazen Road from the new Mallory Square subdivision in DeLand for $1.8 million. A Plantation businessman bought the bank building at 900 Village Trail in Port Orange for $1.4 million.

Also, D.R. Horton bought a batch of lots at Victoria Oaks in DeLand for $1.16 million. Automated Petroleum of Brandon bought the gas station at 4590 S. Ridgewood Ave., Port Orange, for $900,000. Ming Fei Lau and Shu Ting Dong, a New Smyrna Beach couple, bought the Athens Restaurant property at 1401 S. Ridgewood Ave. in Edgewater for $315,000.

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Some other items to note include site work starting for a mini-storage facility at 1171 S. Nova Road in Ormond Beach. Construction is underway on a fitness center at Country Club Corners on South Woodland Boulevard in DeLand. Courtland Park, 196-lot subdivision, has been proposed for a site just east and southeast of the Courtland Boulevard-Doyle Road intersection in Deltona.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 22 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsmediagroup.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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