ORLANDO-Although metro Orlando’s core construction industry is sluggish, the market isn’t fairing as poorly in the building permit sector for single and multifamily dwellings.

Surprising as it may come to local industry followers, for the first six months of the year, the area ranked fourth in the nation, up 18.3% from a No. 7 ranking in the same period in 2001, according to a new study by the Dr. Phillips Institute for the Study of American Business Activity and Phillips-Schenck Chairholder at the University of Central Florida.

Metro Orlando generated 14.61 authorized building permits when scaled per 1,000 nonfarm jobs. Las Vegas, with 19.69 permits per 1,000 jobs, placed first for the fifth consecutive year. Atlanta, 16.44 permits, was second. Phoenix-Mesa, 14.63 permits, was third. The index ranks 61 metropolitan areas twice a year.

“The relative strength of Orlando’s private construction sector has been strong during the U.S. economic downturn that officially commenced in March 2001,” Dr. David F. Scott Jr., executive director, Dr. Phillips Institute, says in his analysis. “Orlando’s performance held up well when compared against the average change of the top 20 performing MSAs.”

For the first nine months, Orlando was in fifth place; Las Vegas remained first.

Other Florida metro areas making the top 20 list were West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, 13.66 permits per 1,000 jobs, sixth place; Jacksonville, 12.34 permits, 11th place; Tampa-St. Petersburg, 9.54 permits; and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, 9.06 permits, 19th place.

“The index of private construction intensity relates the sheer number of authorized permits to the payroll jobs base in each metro area,” Scott says. “This procedure provides both a locally-oriented measure of construction vigor and serves as a leading indicator of confidence by local building contractors in the economic strength of the region.”

The university’s business professor says “a higher index suggests greater vigor and confidence” in a local market. He bases his rankings on raw data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Other metro rankings for the first six months were Riverside-San Bernardino, No. 5, 14.16 permits per 1,000 jobs; Sacramento, CA, seventh, 12.72 permits; Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC, eighth, 12.64 permits; Oklahoma City, ninth, 12.50 permits; Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC, 10th, 12.48 permits; Fort Worth-Arlington, TX, 12th; 11.56 permits; Austin-San Marcos, TX, 13th, 10.48 permits; Houston, 15th, 9.25 permits; Denver, 16th, 9.24 permits; Indianapolis, 17th, 9.21 permits; Columbus, OH, 18th, 9.19 permits; and Nashville, TN, 20th, nine permits.

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