Across Southern California, new apartment towers, hotels, museums, and office buildings have continued to rise since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. But while many of the region's marquee projects have remained on track, new statistics point to a grim reality for the Los Angeles construction industry as a whole.
Between April 1 and June 30, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety issued 45 percent fewer building permits than during the same period in 2019. Statistics also showed a 31 percent drop in the total number of plan checks conducted by the Department and a 15 percent drop in the number of inspections completed.
The sharp decline in construction coincides with devastating job losses in Los Angeles, where the unemployment rate spiked from less than 5 percent in February to roughly 20 percent in June. Nearly half of the 200,000 jobs lost during the pandemic are in the information and food service sectors, according to data released by the City Controller's office. Construction jobs, in comparison, account for approximately 2,700 of the job losses.
The economic blow to Los Angeles reflects the devastation coronavirus has wrought on the national economy, which contracted by an unprecedented 32.9 percent during the second quarter, as shutdown orders impacted numerbous business sectors.
Despite the impacts of coronavirus, the Department of Building and Safety indicated that $7.8 billion worth of building permits were issued in the past four quarters - a 1 percent increase compared to the total from the preceding 12 months. This figure was buoyed by large projects such as the LAX landside access modernization program.
Exposures to coronavirus have plagued a handful of prominent developments in Los Angeles County, most notably SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, where nearly 50 workers have tested positive. In Los Angeles, the Department of Building and Safety issued coronavirus safety protocols for construction sites in April.