Mecklenburg County is adding 18 new building inspectors, in response to an expected surge in construction, but that has not necessarily led to a surge in construction jobs.
Mecklenburg Code Enforcement Director Jim Bartl says his office has been steadily getting busier. By spring, he expects to be so busy that his office will need the new staff.
“What we’ve been observing, which is a trend for 21 months especially on the commercial side, is a slow climb out of the depths of the recession,” Bartl says.
Bartl says his division has been issuing more permits, inspecting more sites, and spending far more time reviewing new applications than last fiscal year. Even as Code Enforcement is seeing an uptick in new projects, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows only a marginal increase in construction jobs in the area.
“What you may be seeing is a jobless recovery,” says Bartl. “What we see are permits issued, and inspection demand and people scheduling commercial plan review time inside of our office. Those are real numbers.”
In other words, construction is no different than other industries that survived the recession. Companies are doing more with less.