While home prices have bounced back, real estate-related jobs still lag behind boom-time peaks, according to Jonathan Lansner, staff columnist for The Orange County (Calif.) Register.

He reports that employment in key real estate job categories— tradesmen, builders, heavy construction, lending, supplies, agents and planners—averaged 240,000 in the 12 months ended in April. That’s up 48,000 workers in five years.

Despite a 25% job increase, Orange County real state jobs this year ran nearly 30,000 workers below the previous boom’s high in 2005, not surprising since OC was a major center of subprime lending. Lansner writes:

What I found highly intriguing was that the employment surge to 2005’s job peak and real estate’s current real estate hiring spree look eerily similar in scope and speed, minus one crucial factor. Local lenders have added workers in the last five years at half the pace of the staffing boost of 2000 to 2005.

The current lending shortfallboth in terms of banker hires and the difficulties in gaining home loansmay be a blessing of sorts, recalling how the bad mortgages in the 2000s distorted real estate’s upswing, then helped sink the economy.

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