By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Record low unemployment in the St. Louis MSA is being offset by a lack of affordable single-family housing due to multiple factors constraining homebuilders here and nationwide – and this trend is likely to continue into 2019, economists say.
This forecast came from National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, Ph.D., who spoke to a roomful of real estate professionals from the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors and the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce. The Dec. 12 program, which also included a regional 2019 outlook from St. Louis RCGA SVP of Economic Development Jim Alexander, painted a crisp picture of the bi-state region’s economic condition against the backdrop of the U.S. outlook.
“We are in a rare situation nationwide where there are actually more job openings than people looking for jobs,” Yun said. “Extreme shortages exist in truckdrivers welders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and more. In addition to shortages in these sectors of the workforce, regulatory factors such as impact fees and zoning restrictions are impeding homebuilders and developers from building an adequate level of new housing stock. This lack of available inventory will continue to prevent future homeowners from entering the market,” he added.
Alexander said slow population growth continues to dog St. Louis, and that it is often viewed as a negative by companies and their site selectors when comparing St. Louis to other U.S. metro areas when choosing a site for future development. “Available workforce and overall business climate are two enormous considerations,” said Alexander. “If our MSA wants to land a 2,000-job construction project, we’ve got to be more competitive with other major markets.”