A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Big Week for Job Numbers

The latest employment numbers will be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this Friday, October 7 and we are all on “pins and needles” waiting to see what they tell us.  There has been talk around the country that we are either emerging from the economic doldrums or heading into a double dip recession.  It is hard to tell where we are, especially with the politicians spouting their rhetoric in the debates and in the media.  This Friday’s numbers should give us a better indication of where we stand.

The latest numbers indicated that 90.9% of us are employed and 9.1% of us are looking for work.  They also indicated that 60,000 new workers applied for unemployment.  The numbers in our industry, according to the latest ENR review (subscription required), are still in the 85-87% employed as the construction industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors.  Our numbers also mask the large number of workers who have entered the grey economy or returned to their country of origin until the US economy heats up again.  Right now the thinking is that the economy will heat up after the elections late next year.  That is a long time to wait for those of us out of work now.

Many of us are asking, “Where is normal these days?” The old “normal” was that the economy was doing well when employment was at 95% and unemployment was at 5%.  Several of the pundits think that the new normal is around 7%.  They think that the 9.1% reported number for unemployment is low and misleading as there are a large number of Americans who have stopped looking for employment who are not included in the monthly BLS numbers.

The White House has realized that the only way that Obama can be reelected is to create more jobs, and I am certain that they have pulled out the old Clinton era signs that said, “It is the economy Stupid!”  With the President on the campaign trail hawking his jobs bill and exhorting the Congress to “pass this bill”, we should see some really heated debates in the near future.  But debate is not what we need.  We need projects and jobs now.

The issue for the construction industry remains how to create additional projects so that we can go back to work.  The numbers that we see on Friday may shed some light on that issue and might give us hope that our fellow construction workers will be back on the jobsite soon.

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