Building inspectors may be as good an economic indicator as any, I suppose. I perked up the other day when I noticed a story by our Wake County reporter, Martha Quillin.
It said that the Wake County commissioners unanimously voted to approve spending $244,265 for three full-time positions in inspections and one in plan review.
The story was kind of tucked away, on page 6B, the business page, on Nov. 4. That’s how it sometimes is with stories like this. Individually, economic indicators are not necessarily front page news.
Here are the stats, from Quillin’s story: “Before the recession, the county had the equivalent of 24.5 full-time inspectors looking at buildings and plans. It now has 15.5.”
Despite the fact that this has been a lame recovery and it feels like we have been walking in thigh-deep snow for the last five years, things have been getting slowly better in the construction industry.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working in the construction industry dropped by just under 30 percent from August 2006 to January 2011, seasonally adjusted. Nearly 2.3 million jobs went poof. And that meant building inspector jobs shrank as well. Now, according to the BLS, construction jobs have increased by more than 7 percent, nationally. Local governments like Wake County, which have been handling that increase with overtime, are now cautiously adding inspection staff.
Friday, business editor David Bracken had a story that said there were 7,639 homes for sale in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties at the end of October. That’s a four-month supply of homes. The average number of days on market for a home that sold in October was 67, down from 114 last October. These numbers come from the Triangle Multiple Listing Services.
These kinds of numbers encourage new construction, which means more inspections.