1 Hopkins Construction Hotspot

A new hospital boosts construction employment.

Courtesy Johns Hopkins Medicine

While the housing recession put many residential construction workers across the country out of work, more than 4,700 construction workers were kept busy for six years building a $1.1 billion expansion for Johns Hopkins Hospital. After the building opens in April, another 700 new employees will be needed to work in the new 1.6 million-square-feet building, which consists of two, 12-story towers connected by an eight-story building that will house operating rooms, emergency departments, and public areas.

The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center, named for the mayor of New York City’s mother, will find a home in one of the towers. The other tower, the Sheikh Zayed Tower, named after the late sheikh who served as the first president of the United Emirates, will have a full range of cardiovascular and neurology services as well as labor and delivery and other surgical procedures.

2 Fast Crash, Big Bounce

Home prices make a rebound.

The Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla., home market, which fell first, faster, and further than most of the rest of the country, appears to be among the first to show considerable improvement. Bankrate.com ranked the area on Florida’s West Coast as one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation recently based on the value of homes.

National Association of Realtors data show the average Fort Myers-Cape Coral home price rose 17.9 percent from the second quarter of 2010 to that of 2011, the most significant seen in any local real estate market nationwide, and the only market in the Southeast in the top five in that time frame, reports Hanley Wood Market Intelligence.

3 Fighter Planes Down

Defense cuts slash Northrup Grumman.

In what might be some of the first job losses to result from expected military defense budget cuts, Northrup Grumman Technical Services announced plans to lay off 210 employees at Fort Hood, Texas, where the company develops and produces the weapons system for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 joint strike fighter, The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports. Fewer of the fighter planes are expected to be built when funding cuts begin in 2013.

4 Gaggle of Googlers

Google’s Mountain View campus grows.

Courtesy Google

Google has such big expansion plans in its headquarters town of Mountain View, Calif., that it’s paying the city $255,000 up front so it can hire enough city planning staff to review and process all its construction, including a new 18-acre campus and improvements to dozens of its existing buildings, the Mountain View Voice reports.

Last year Google’s employee count climbed by 33 percent, from 23,400 to 32,467, according to the company’s government filings.

Google owns 3.5 million square feet of office and building space plus seven acres of developable land for future growth in Mountain View. It leases another 3.8 million square feet more of office space and 61 acres of undeveloped land there as well, its annual report says. “Pick any office building out there, and they are probably doing improvements,” city planning director Randy Tsuda tells the newspaper.

5 UPS Drop Off

A Kentucky plant shrinks.

More than 400 UPS employees in Hebron, Ky., will lose their jobs by April 1, because Zulily, a Seattle-based seller of children’s clothes, took over its own inventory management and distribution.

The UPS plant was so dependent on the clothing retailer’s business that without it there are only jobs for about 110 workers left at the UPS Supply Chain Solutions business that breaks down bulk packages of products to fill orders from stores and consumers.

UPS hopes the reduction in force is temporary. “Our intent is to go out and find more clients and fill that facility back up,” UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg, told the Louisville Courier Journal.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Cape Coral, FL, Baltimore, MD, Dallas, TX.