PORTLAND, OR - Precision Countertops is adding staff amid the housing recovery, and has restored a second shift cut during the downturn. The Portland, OR laminate and solid surface counter manufacturer's improvement reflects an overall trend to stable housing growth and continued economic expansion.
"Housing has traditionally powered the economy early in recoveries, but could not this time, since it was the principal cause of the recession," says Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The housing market revival will also kick into high gear,” Zandi predicts.
Zandi contrasts the current market for housing - reasonably priced homes selling briskly will soon be in short supply as most of the problem loans have been worked out - with the height of the housing bubble in 2006-2008, when homes were "unaffordable, vastly overvalued, overbuilt, and fueled by careless mortgage lending," Moody's Analytics says. The improvement in home sales is driving remodeling for existing homes as well, the segment Precision Countertops serves.
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Marcus Neff, owner of Precision Countertops, tells the Wall St. Journal he is "cautiously optimistic" as he adds workers and overtime, including a new hire, Cody Preston. The 27-year-old Preston worked as a countertop installer prior to being layed off, and spent six years job hunting and working in short-term positions. He is now earning $17 an hour as a project coordinator at Precision Countertops, a job that required added skills above his previous countertop installation experience.
Precision Countertops has posted 16 positions available at its site, including installers, polishers, fabricators and project coordinations like Preston.
“If everything sticks roughly to script, it will have taken the economy almost a decade to fully recover from the Great Recession,” Zandi said. “The process has been long and frustrating, but given the downturn’s magnitude, it has testified to the resilience of the U.S. economy.”
Zandi says industries hard hit during the recession, such as manufacturing and construction, left workers unemployed for long stretches who have seen their skills erode, or live in areas where these industries have yet to make a comeback. Millions of workers are unable to move because their mortgages are underwater.
Precision Countertops has production operations and showrooms in Portland, Medford, and Bend in Oregon; Woodinville, Seattle and Spokane in Washington; and Boise, ID. Last year it opened a 12,000 sq.ft showroom in Fountain Valley, CA to service southern California. The 32,000-sq.ft. building encompasses a stone gallery with over 1,100 granite slabs, 5 complete model kitchens and bathrooms, and work areas to house the sales, installation, and administrative teams. (See video below.)
Housing-related employment is driving wood manufacturing industry hiring up as well, with furniture, with furniture manufacturing, building materials and home centers dealers recording increases, says a report by Career Builders. In the first quarter, 117,000 housing related jobs were created. The segments acount for 9% of total employment, according to Moody's Analytics; the number is running about 2.3 million total jobs below its high point in 2006.
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