Statewide Housing Starts Highest in Years

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The graph provided by the Indiana Builders Association shows annual, statewide single-family home permit totals from 2007-2016. The graph provided by the Indiana Builders Association shows annual, statewide single-family home permit totals from 2007-2016.

The Indiana Builders Association says single-family home permits in 2016 hit the highest level since 2007. Chief Executive Officer Rick Wajda says he expects the upward trend to continue as long as certain conditions cooperate. "Cost and availability of labor was a problem builders faced in 2016 and expect to continue to face in 2017," he said. "Cultivating a robust and skilled workforce will be key for the housing industry this year."

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Wajda also discussed regions that helped drive the positive results. He expects growth to continue around central Indiana and in the Greater Louisville metro area. "It really ties directly back to areas of the state that have seen increases in jobs. We know that if we're bringing jobs into the state of Indiana, you'll certainly see an uptick and a surge in single-family construction as well."

Single-family home permits were up 13 percent in 2016, and Wajda says if the numbers are to continue to rise, efforts to create the next generation of workers in the construction industry must ramp up. He says "I think there's a multitude of opportunity out there," including indications from the General Assembly and Governor Eric Holcomb that work force development is a top priority. "We're beginning to take the message to our local high schools all across the state of Indiana and letting them know there are good careers in the construction industry. And we're going to continue to beat that drum over the next twelve months and let not only high school students, but eventually moving that into the grade school level, that there are high-wage jobs out there that folks that like to work with their hands can have a great opportunity to get involved in the construction industry and ultimately, if their interested, become owners of their own company." Wajda adds there is a lot of upward mobility in the industry.

The full-year totals came in a 13,985 permits last year, compared to 12,372 in 2015.

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