TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – COVID-19 destabilized the foundation of America, brought the economy to a screeching halt, and left millions without jobs. According to the latest report, 751,000 people filed for unemployment claims last week.
Some hope lies in the housing market which has seen a high demand for new construction as the existing supply of single-family homes faces a shortage.
“People got scared and stopped building for a minute. But projects that were under construction continued and haven’t stopped yet,” said Lina Castro, a project manager with InVision Advisors, a company that helps owners oversee the budget, design and construction of their new homes.
According to U.S Census data, contractors broke ground on a seasonally adjusted 1.42 million new homes and apartments in September 2020, an 11-percent increase from the same time last year. The number of building permits, which is a good indicator of future activity, increased by 8-percent from 2019 with more than 1.55 million permits issued in September 2020.
“Florida is seeing an influx in new residents so that’s good for business and homes,” said Jonathan Moore, InVision Advisors President.
It’s a silver lining for Project Manager Lina Castro who stepped into the construction industry with no experience or a college degree three years ago, starting as an administrative assistant.
Moore took a gamble and hired her as a project manager after her interest in learning more about the construction and development process.
“When we were asking her to set meetings, deliver drawings, meet a subcontractor for a certain piece of paper she really wanted to understand, why am I doing this?” said Moore, “She really grabbed the bull by the horns.”
“If you work hard and you just go after any dream you have, you’re likely to succeed,” said Castro, “I think if more women saw women on site, they’d be more inclined to join the industry.”
Castro found job security and is encouraging other women, especially Latinas like her, to take the reins and enter what are still labeled as ‘male-dominated fields.’ She says it’s important for women to make their voices heard and let people know what they bring to the table.
“Woman bring a different perspective than man can sometimes, from not only a construction, but a design standpoint,” Castro said.
“She’s courageous in taking chances in what she believes is correct,” said Moore.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the female-to-male ratio in the construction industry has remained fairly stagnant since 1990. There are around 1.1 million women working in construction compare to 9.9 million men.
As the economy struggles amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Castro says it’s important to see what opportunities exist outside of your comfort zone.
“It’s challenging being a woman in construction but it’s also fun,” said Castro, “I take every opportunity I can to learn a little bit more every day.”