Monday, June 18, 2007

Sacramento Homebuilder Layoffs Continue Unabated

From the Sacramento Business Journal:

Whether through dramatic cuts or gradual attrition, many Greater Sacramento homebuilders are shedding staff as sales stall.

Last week, Pulte Homes Corp. laid off 45 workers at its Sacramento and Reno offices ....The layoffs are on top of the Michigan-based builder's other reductions over the past 18 months, said [Chris] Cady, who's been the division president for the past 10 years. The company had trimmed its work force by about 25 percent prior to the recent layoffs. The layoffs don't include trade contractors working at job sites.
Many companies in the area are at least 25 percent leaner than they were during peak production. One, Richmond American Homes, has eliminated about 90 percent of its local office staff since that time...[It] gradually shrunk its Sacramento office from about 90 workers during the peak to fewer than 10, not including field staff, said Mark Butler, who presides over the company's Northern California division from his office in Pleasanton.
John Laing Homes, the area's No. 12 builder this year, last had a round of layoffs in February, when 20 people were let go. The builder, like many others in the area, has cut 25 percent of its staff.
Construction companies have also struggled through the slowdown. Walsh & Forster Inc., which is connected to The Walsh Group of Portland, Ore., has decided to finish projects in town then close its Sacramento office, according to workers there.
The housing slowdown's toll on construction employment might not be registering with the state. According to the state Employment Development Department, the Sacramento Area actually gained construction jobs over the past year.

But David Lyons, a labor market consultant with the department, said the figures might be misleading. They don't account for self-employed tradesmen, and residential builders generally aren't very responsive to the state's surveys.
Despite the layoffs and the sales slump, most homebuilders are opening new projects this year.

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