- Category: Business
- Published on Thursday, January 20 2011 05:54
- Written by Rod Hughes
- Hits: 731
Signs of recovery showed up in the vital construction sector of the economy in 2010. The 11% increase in activity was not spectacular but went some distance to make up for the dismal 2009 showing in the industry.
Until 2008, construction was one of the biggest factors in the low (4.6%) unemployment rate. Then the housing meltdown in the United States all but paralyzed construction and real estate here.
The focus of construction and real estate had been in Guanacaste province where many North Americans had bought lots on which to build their dream homes and some had already started construction. Their idea of selling their homes at the high U.S. prices prevailing then and moving into their Costa Rican dwellings seeemed not only feasible but logical.
But with the popping of the U.S. housing bubble came the realization that the value of their own homes Stateside had plummeted about 40% in a few months dashed those hopes. Even tourism construction dropped off.
Last year it was not Guanacaste but San Jose province that led recovery with a 27% increase in activity. Instead, Guanacaste showed only an 8% increase.
Despite the modest overall industry gain, the employment figures remained depressing, the sector actually losing 21,600 jobs during the first three-quarters of last year, reported the financial newspaper El Financiero.
Construction is an especially valuable source of jobs for the unskilled and semi-skilled. Both these and highly specialized skilled workers such as carpenters and plumbers find it hard to find work to replace their former jobs.