Construction on the Facebook Inc. data center in Altoona is generating about 200 jobs and putting a smile on the face of at least one local construction official.
Kenny Gwinn, business managers of Laborers' union Local 177, said about 20 to 25 of his members have been working at the Facebook site in Altoona, and it has helped push hiring at the local to its highest level in five years.
The same might not be said for all of the Greater Des Moines construction market. According to recent employment data, Greater Des Moines is the only metropolitan area in the state that saw a drop in construction hiring for the year ending in August. Despite the loss of 300 jobs, the area runs second to Council Bluffs and Omaha for total numbers of construction workers on the job.
In addition to Facebook, Gwinn's membership is working at the Wells Fargo & Co. expansion in West Des Moines and Principal Financial Group Inc.'s renovation in downtown Des Moines, to name just a few projects.
Chad Kleppe of the Masters Builders of Iowa said simple observation of the commercial and residential construction market in Greater Des Moines would contradict the statistics.
But John Irving, director of business development for Baker Electric Inc., said that although the construction market has picked up, projects are not sustaining a steady increase in employment. He suspects hiring could gain some momentum later in the year.