Commercial Construction Balances Growth

<p>Despite busts in residential construction, American cities such as Phoenix are managing to continue growing due to an influx of commercial construction.</p>
August 14, 2007, 2pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"The convention center is being expanded, a light-rail system is coming and several hotels are sprouting up alongside new offices and retail space."

"The volume of commercial construction in Phoenix may help shed some light on a question that has puzzled regional economists: Why do some cities mired in a housing bust continue to enjoy strong economic growth? In Phoenix, the answer appears to be that commercial construction is helping to cushion the fall."

"Indeed, the city's rapidly increasing population has long been an engine of economic growth. Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. by population, with 1.5 million people and a median age of 33. Such demographics continue to attract employers to the region, and as a result, the unemployment rate dropped to 2.7% in May, its lowest level since 1999."

"The residential-housing boom that was fueled in part by rapid population growth has given way to a growing market for commercial construction projects. Even though home sales in Phoenix dropped nearly 30% last year, an estimated $2.3 billion in commercial projects are planned for downtown Phoenix alone, an unprecedented amount."

*Editor's Note: The source article will be available through the link below for seven days.

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Published on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 in The Wall Street Journal
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