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Number of construction permits growing, but still below pre-pandemic level.
After nearly seizing up during the COVID-19 shutdown, the pace of new construction in Los Angeles — a key driver of the local economy — has risen steadily over the past few months.
Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the closure of restaurants, bars, theaters and many other businesses on March 15. The effects were instantaneous: April marked the lowest point for building permits issued by the City of Los Angeles in at least a decade, when the region was still mired in the depths of the Great Recession.
That month, the city issued 6,644 building permits, a drop of 57% from just three months earlier, according to data from the city’s Department of Building and Safety. The 129 permits for new buildings and homes in April were down 67% from the level in January.
Though the volume of permits has picked up considerably since the spring, it remains stuck below pre-pandemic levels. In July, there were 11,460 permits issued, or 27% below the January total, according to the LADBS. (Full data from August is not yet available.)
The buoyant construction sector has been one of the consistent bright spots in the Southern California economy, helping to drive down unemployment and raise wages. The industry employs between 100,000 and 150,000 people across the county, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. Any slowdown in building also threatens to dent efforts to address the region’s chronic housing shortage — which has fueled rising unaffordability and homelessness.