Economists credit most of the 30,000 new construction jobs - the biggest jump in 15 months - to the northeast rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but even in the Inland Empire, the industry is recovering, observers said.
"It's going great," said Terry Kent, the president of the Building Industry Association's Baldy View chapter. "We've seen an uptick in more buyers out there. I think they realize that prices have bottomed out and are on the way back up.
In his day job, Kent works for Glendora-based homebuilders Crestwood Communities, which built dozens of new houses in 2012 as the state's economy turned around.
"We actually have a tract in Rancho Cucamonga that we've started building phase three (of), four months ahead schedule, due to buyer demand," Kent said.
New construction is happening, according to him, because the backlog of new houses built during the housing bubble are no longer flooding the market.
"There's a shortage of inventory out there and traffic has definitely picked up at our communities," Kent said. "From a builder's standpoint, buyers are definitely out there right now."
And after several slow years, that's translated into a need for more skilled workers for Crestwood Communities.
"We've stayed alive for the past five years, but we've added staff in the last 12 months ... which is better than the direction we were headed in, in the last few years," Kent said.
And there are likely more jobs out there than construction workers in Southern California, at the moment.
"From a contractor's standpoint, there's a shortage of labor out there," Kent said. "A lot of them left California for jobs elsewhere."
Not all segments of the construction industry suffered equally during the recession: Governmental and industrial construction typically remained healthy over the past few years, along with apartments and other multi-family housing units.
But now single-family home construction - which was devastated when the housing bubble burst - may be on the way back.
"(It) doesn't mean we're out of the woods, but some pretty serious people are spending some pretty serious money" getting ready for a potential new wave of single family construction, said Otto Kroutil, Development Agency Director for the City of Ontario. Developers are paying for the infrastructure upgrades required to develop the next large undeveloped region of the city.
"We have a large amount of undeveloped property (in) the south of the city, where there's a tremendous amount of infrastructure required," Kroutil said. City workers are currently building roads, putting in storm drains and water and sewer lines, with developers footing much of the bill.
"We're not there yet, but because of the kind of activity that's required before you build House One, we believe that things are looking up," Kroutil said.
But it's not good news all around for everyone - at least, not yet.
Terry Klenske, president of Dalton Trucking Inc. in Fontana, is seeing both sides of the economy - good and bad - up front and personal. His firm, which hauls a range of goods, from gypsum to limestone, is optimistic about hiring in 2013, despite some troubling numbers at the end of last year.
"I was just scratching my head as to why December was so poor in terms of volume," he said.
In going over his books, he found that the firm hauled $90,000 worth of gypsum to a major cement plant in 2011. But in 2012, the firm hauled half of that.
His heavy hauling business was off by about a third, he said. And his dump truck business was off by about half.
"We had a very poor December," he said, adding that even his haulers at West Coast ports were affected by the port strike late last year that crippled operations at port terminals.
Klenske said he's not the only one affected.
Many business owners were taking a wait-and-see stance in doing business as the election approached in November, and the so-called `fiscal cliff' stalemate didn't exactly help the economy get back on track, Klenske said.
But despite the darker numbers from the end of the year, Klenske said he had higher hopes in the new year.
He said he could "easily see" the need to hire 10 more drivers and two mechanics.
"I believe this next year is going to be more positive," he said.
Staff Writer Ryan Carter contributed to this report.
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