Palm Coast’s unemployment is just under 16%. Here are some other numbers to chew on:
According to the Center for Business Excellence, about 20% — or 1,000 people — of the unemployed in Flagler County come from the construction industry.
According to Jason DeLorenzo, government liaison with the Flagler Home Builders Association, building a new home creates three full-time jobs for one year.
Therefore, to fully employ those 1,000 workers, we need to build 333 more homes per year than we are now.
How likely is that to happen?
Economists from the National Association of Home Builders predict home construction will increase by 20% nationwide in 2011. If that holds true in Flagler County, we’d increase from about 200 new homes last year to about 240 this year. At three jobs per home, that means an extra 120 people will have full-time work as a result. Only 880 to go.
In other words, to really bite into the unemployment problem in Flagler County, we need one of three things to happen, or a combination:
1. The demand for construction needs to increase more quickly.
2. The builders need to be retrained and change careers to something more in demand.
3. The builders need to relocate to other areas in the state or the country where that demand is already high. In this economy, that’s not easy. Moreover, DeLorenzo speculates that the people who were going to relocate already have. And we’re still left with 880 surplus construction workers.
The unemployed of the construction industry have families. They have children in school. They like Palm Coast and don’t want to move. I don’t blame them.
But until something changes, our unemployment will likely remain the worst in the state.