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RISMEDIA, Sept. 20, 2007-(MCT)-It should be no surprise that the number of housing units in Warren County, Ky., has increased significantly since 2000 — up 15.3% through 2006, to be precise.But what is surprising in the numbers released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau is the lack of a major increase in nearby Logan County, according to state Demographer Ron Crouch.

Crouch researched employment numbers for the county and came up with what he thinks is a correlation: Total employment in Logan County was 13,885 in 2001, compared to 13,426 in 2005, according to the most recent statistics available from the Bureau of Economic Accounts.

“It appears that housing growth (or lack of) mirrors economic growth,” Crouch said. “It is probably the economic growth that drives the housing versus the other way around.”

The total number of housing units, both occupied and unoccupied, grew just 1.9% from 11,896 in April 2000 to 12,107 in July 2006 in Logan County.

Warren County, on the other hand, saw its total full- and part-time employment go from 60,894 to 68,470, a 12.4% increase from 2001 to 2005.

Housing units in Warren County went from 38,350 from the April 2000 census to 44,238 in July 2006; the county’s most recent population estimate is 92,951.

Daviess County, which often is compared to Warren County, was at 42,436 units in July 2006 with a population estimate of 92,539. Total jobs in Daviess County went from 54,092 to 55,480.

Crouch said location is one of the primary reasons there are more jobs in Warren County.
“You have the interstate and the university — two big factors,” Crouch said.

If the proposed Interstate 69 comes to fruition, that could help Owensboro, but would likely happen along with a proposed Interstate 66 that would be close to Bowling Green and very beneficial for this region, Crouch said.

Alice Burks, director of Housing and Community Development for the city, said the increase in Warren County’s housing units is no surprise to her, since major construction projects have been quite visible over the years.

“We are definitely keeping pace with growth (in jobs and population),” she said.
Thanks to a software glitch, however, an estimate of how many of the new housing units were in the city was not available, Burks said.

Crouch said he expects housing units to continue to grow in economically prosperous counties because of expected population increases in the southeast, which includes Kentucky.

“It looks like the southeast has the best potential to be the economic engine for the country,” he said.

Lemuel Palmer of Bowling Green has been involved in the construction industry for many years, both as a builder and as someone who helps train people to build.

A teacher in the HVAC program at Bowling Green Technical College, he said it seems there is still a shortage of people in the construction trades.

According to the Bureau of Economic Statistics, construction-related jobs in Warren County grew from 3,683 to 3,966.

Palmer think the biggest boom in the housing industry was in the early ’90s, and for the starter homes he builds, the market has slowed slightly.

“But Bowling Green always seems to be immune to what is happening elsewhere,” he said. “We always seem to keep on building and people keep on buying.”

Copyright © 2007, The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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