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商业 - 房地产

美国建筑业怪现象

Nin-Hai Tseng 2012年12月12日

美国房地产市场呈现反弹的可喜迹象,房屋开工量有所增加。然而,政府报告显示,居民住宅建筑类岗位却在日益减少。到底是怎么回事?

    经过五年低迷期后,美国房地产市场终于渡过难关:大部分地区的住房价格出现上涨。建筑商建造的房屋数量也呈上涨趋势,从托尔兄弟公司(Toll Brothers)到莱纳房屋公司(Lennar),部分大公司的利润猛增。

    然而,从美国政府的就业报告中,却看不出房地产市场好转的迹象。美国劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)公布11月份的月度就业报告后,杰德·科尔克(来自住宅物业信息服务网站Trulia)在上周五的一份报告中提出了这一观点。

    随着经济好转,就业机会增加,然而,建筑业的就业形势似乎并未出现好转迹象。因此,人们对政府的统计数据更加疑惑:如果建筑商建造了更多房屋,为何我们却没有看到建筑工作岗位的增加呢?

    美国商务部(the U.S. Commerce Department)11月份报告称,10月份,美国房屋开工率提高了3.6%,全年开工894,000户,为五年来的最高水平,比去年提高了41.9%。上周的数据显示,截至10月31日,美国最大的豪华房屋建筑商托尔兄弟公布,季度收入增长了48%。托尔兄弟投资者关系高级副总裁弗莱德·库珀称,公司2012年建造的房屋数量比去年增加了26%。公司预计,2013年建造的房屋数量将增加34%,多出约4,400套。

    然而,就业统计数据并未反映出建筑数量的增加。科尔克在报告中称,过去三个月,建筑类岗位总体同比减少了0.4%(年度比率),而美国总体就业却增长了1.3%。尤其值得注意的是,居民住宅建筑类工作年签约率仅为7%。

    人们通常认为,一旦房地产市场有所好转,经济将会大规模复苏:毕竟,据行业组织美国全国住房建筑商协会(National Association of Home Builders)估算,每建造一套住房可产生三个全职工作,新增90,000美元的税收收入。

    美国劳工部的数据显示,自2009年6月“大衰退”结束时起,住宅建筑类工作岗位从633,000个减少到11月的552,800个,减少了14.5%。同一时期,失业率从9.5%减少到7.7%。失业率减少,一方面反映了经济形势的好转,另一方面,也是因为更多工人对经济没有信心,进而放弃求职。

    问题是,建筑行业的情况到底怎么样?

    After a 5-year slump, the U.S. housing market has turned the corner: Home prices are rising in many parts of the country. And builders are building more homes, as some of the biggest from Toll Brothers to Lennar see profits soar.

    But you wouldn't know it by looking at the government's report on jobs. That's a point economist Jed Kolko of Trulia, a residential-property listings website, raised in a report last Friday when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly report for November.

    Even though the economy has steadily added jobs, it doesn't seem to have caught on in the construction industry. This adds to the many confusions over the government's statistics: If builders are building more homes, why aren't we seeing more construction jobs?

    In October, housing starts rose 3.6% to an annual pace of 894,000 – the best rate in more than five years and 41.9% higher than a year earlier, the U.S. Commerce Department reported in November. And last week, Toll Brothers (TOL), the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder, reported that revenues jumped 48% during the quarter ending on Oct. 31. Fred Cooper, senior vice president of investor relations at Toll Brothers, says the company built 26% more homes in 2012 compared with the previous year. And in 2013, it expects to build up to 34% or 4,400 more units.

    The employment statistics haven't reflected more building, however. During the past three months, construction jobs overall decreased by an annual rate of 0.4%, while employment overall grew by 1.3%, Kolko says in a report. And jobs, specifically in residential-building construction, contracted at an annualized rate of 7%.

    It's often thought that once the housing market turned around, the economy would see it in a big way: After all, each home built generates three full-time jobs and $90,000 in new tax revenue, the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group, estimates.

    Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, jobs in homebuilding dropped 14.5% from 633,000 to 552,800 in November, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department. During the same period, the unemployment rate declined from 9.5% to 7.7%. Part of the drop reflects an improving economy, but it also comes as more workers feeling uncertain about the economy give up searching for work.

    The question is where does the construction industry fit into this picture?

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