Scene In Passing: Time to make a bet on area construction

So many pieces of the economic puzzle are falling into place it’s a wonder if happy days aren’t here again before you can say 2017.

Happy days, by the way, aren’t the kind in which a teenager has the metaphorical pedal to the metal. They are like a more sedate cruisin’ speed of late 30-somethings on a family drive looking for a new place to live. Rather than chasing the heart of Saturday night, as the Tom Waits song goes, the period upcoming should feel more like a zig-zagging house hunting trip evoking strains of that Young Rascals’ song: “Groovin (On a Sunday Afternoon).”

It’s happening right here in River (Carson) City and Northern Nevada. Demand for housing — both multi-family and single-family residential construction — should be on the cusp of a Northern Nevada renaissance.

“The region is in the middle of an economic transformation that is going to be lasting,” Steve Hill, head of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said recently. “We will have job growth that is sustainable and very strong in the 4 to 4.5 percent range for awhile.”

The latest state jobless and employment report reinforced that, though it covers all of Nevada. The state jobless rate dipped below 7 percent to the lowest level since mid-2008, was off from a recession peak of 13.7 percent and though it’s still 1.6 points higher than the U.S, rate it was a huge 4.4 points higher than the nation’s at the height of the not-so-great recession. The report last week also said job growth is trending 40,000 higher in 2015.

But it isn’t just the region or state, nor could it be. Nothing in economics happens in isolation. The national and world economies are on track for solid growth. To be sure, wild cards exist, jokers that could throw everything out of whack. They’re always out there. A spike in terrorism could cause a problem. China’s economy faltering could be another sticking point. But there are mounting pluses.

A temporary halt to the Greek free fall, albeit short, will help via relieved European bankers. Time has been borrowed for the Eurozone. The Iranian nuke agreement, though it could prove a long-term problem, in the shorter term should eventually further ease prices for crude oil and gasoline at the pump. Interest rates in this nation may start to rise slowly, which some might think a negative. But that will give banks more breathing room to lend.

Auto sales are back, and now construction is trending up in this country. Construction is key. When it returns, as is slowly occurring, recovery isn’t in the wind but actually on the ground. Demand will make that happen.

Single-family housing prices are ascending here, the multi-family apartment market is tightening and so rental costs climb. This renaissance will continue. Northern Nevadans must seize the day to ride this wave before it crests as all waves inevitably do. At the Northern Nevada Housing Summit, where Hill painted the rosy picture regarding jobs growth, there also were warnings about its meaning.

“We have a housing crisis,” said Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. He said more than 50,000 jobs and nearly 65,000 in population growth are expected in the region over five years, which made him call for thousands of new residential units rather than just hundreds.

He’s right because before you can say 2017 you’ll be able to see with 2020 vision to 2020 and happy days are here again — unless you’re house or apartment hunting and there’s nothing available.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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