The Miami Herald

Building permits on the way back up

South Florida’s building industry continues to show signs of new life.

Permits for new-home construction are up about 50 percent this year, as builders emerge from their bunkers are try to take advantage of increased demand for housing.

In Broward, builders filed for 72 permits in May, pushing the year’s average increase to 34 percent over 2011 levels, according to Census data. In Miami-Dade, May permits hit 127, pushing the year’s increase to an average of 78 percent — thanks to a surge in new construction in March and April.

Because the numbers are relatively small, new subdivisions can cause big swings. Construction employment remains a major drag on the economy, with hiring off about 10 percent this year. And compared to the boom days, the new permit numbers remain pretty grim. When stacked up against the peak of construction in early 2004, South Florida building permits are down 85 percent.

Still, permits bottomed out in 2010 and have mostly been on the rise since. The latest numbers show that trend continues.

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine tracks 60 local indicators in an effort to chart South Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession. By comparing current conditions to where they were before the downturn, the ETM attempts to measure how far back the recession set the economy. The answer so far: June 2003. Visit ETM headquarters at for the latest updates.

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