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Florida construction jobs in demand during pandemic

Construction is an industry that is seeing a boom during a time when many are struggling. The demand for trades people to do remodel work while people are hunkering down is high, and it can be hard to find someone to contract for a job.

Kim and Tony Partello have been busy remodeling.

“Well, we did our master bath, we did our bedroom, remodeled the rest from years back with the hurricane,” Tony said.

And they finally got around to it because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“COVID boredom,” Tony said.

“Yeah, it was time,” Kim said.

“You watch too much HGTV, and you get the itch, I suppose,” Tony said. “Next thing you know, you say, ‘I can do this.’ Then, you go for it.”

They’re not alone. In fact, building permits in Collier County have steadily increased over the last few months.

The Florida construction industry added 1,500 jobs this past June.

It’s good news for Oscar Melendez, who runs his own installation and remodeling company. He knows what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck.

“I was here when things slowed down,” Melendez said. “We were dying for the phone to ring.”

“It actually picked up during the pandemic,” said. “We’ve got work all over Southwest Florida, from Port Charlotte, Sanibel Marco Island, Naples, all over. I mean, we have quite a bit of stuff going on, a lot of new construction and a lot of remodeling going on.”

That’s creating a high demand for workers and contractors to get the job done.

“It was definitely a rush to try to find that work that you needed to help,” Tony said. “Because, if you found one, you kept them. Otherwise, people were gobbled up.”

One other problem complicated by COVID-19 was the trouble to get certain materials for their renovation, the Partellos said.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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