Lane County Building Permits Rebound in 2018

by Brian Rooney

March 12, 2019

Building permit data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that new housing construction in Lane County, as measured by permits for living units, rebounded to 1,243 in 2018 after dropping to 842 in 2017.

Building permits in Lane County peaked in 2005 before the Great Recession and dropped dramatically from 2006 to 2010. The recession was characterized by job losses and mortgage foreclosures, which led to additional housing on the market and less demand, increasing the inventory of available housing. Since then, the level of permits as measured by living units has remained low compared with prerecession levels even as inventory has tightened.

Labor market data shows that the economy in Lane County is improving. The unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 13.2 percent in May 2009 to 4.1 percent in May 2018. The county has also gained back all of the 18,000 jobs lost in the Great Recession and was roughly 2.0 percent above the prerecession peak in 2018. With the improvement, building permits have shown slow growth from a low of 550 units approved in 2010 to 1,243 approved in 2018.
The 2018 building permit data show a slight drop in single-family construction and an increase in multi-unit buildings.

Multi-unit structures of five or more units grew rapidly in 2013 and 2014 from a boom in student housing associated with the University of Oregon. Single-family units have increased since bottoming out in 2011, although they are still well below prerecession levels.

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