Staff and Wire Reports
Created: 06/15/2011 05:29:31 PM PDT

Many of the homebuilding jobs lost during the California’s economic downturn won’t be coming back to help fuel its recovery.

The quarterly Anderson Forecast from UCLA said there would likely be no major rebound in single-family home construction because of the growing dominance of a younger population that prefers urban-style apartment and condo living.

Inland California will see years of slower growth as it adjusts to a residential construction industry that’s bound to stay small for the foreseeable future, according to the report.

“What we’ve seen is this shift toward multifamily housing demand,” said the forecast’s author, Jerry Nickelsburg. “You can see that in the demographics.”

Since apartment units require far fewer workers than single-family homes, the post-recovery homebuilding sector will employ fewer people than before the downturn, Nickelsburg said.

Those jobs will be missed most acutely in the state’s inland regions, including the Inland Valley.

In those areas, far from the urban coastal areas where most new residential demand is expected, single-family home construction had been a chief source of employment before the housing bust.

“I’d say for the Inland Empire, for the short and middle run, is it will mean more apartments will be desired by the population, and it will be less demand for the traditional big houses on big lots because of demographic shifts, lifestyle preferences, and affordability and because of affordability in a high cost area,” said Randall Lewis, principal and executive vice president of Upland-based Lewis Operating Corp.

The weakness of the state’s housing sector will contribute to the slow pace of economic growth expected for the rest of the year, according to the report.

Employment was forecast to grow at a rate of 1.7 percent through 2011, keeping joblessness no lower than 11.7 percent. The state was unlikely to generate enough jobs to tug unemployment down to the single digits until the second quarter of 2013.

The state’s most recent tally put unemployment at 11.9 percent in April, down from a modern record of 12.6 percent reached in March 2010. The national rate is 9.1 percent.

Growth will be driven by education, health care, exports and technology, all of which are concentrated along the coast.

The report noted that building permits for single-family and multifamily dwellings had both fallen to about 20 percent their 2006 peaks in mid-2009. But multifamily permits have since recovered to about 40 percent of their peak level, while single-family permits continue to decline, the report said.

Generation Y – people now between their pre-teens and early-30s – will rapidly become the state’s biggest home-hunters, but it is not at the age to demand single family detached housing.

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