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Construction in Crazy Time

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that we are in “crazy time”, not only in politics, but also in the construction industry.  Makes me wonder whether they are linked.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) report on the May 2012 construction job numbers show that over 50% of the 337 US Metro areas gained new jobs over the past year.  That is great news for the folks working in those metro areas.   At the same time, AGC reports that in the other half (48.7%) of the metro areas, jobs in the construction industry are still declining.  (You can see how your Metro is doing by referring to their List of Construction Employment by Metropolitan Area or Division, May 2011-May 2012.)

We recently reported that there are major shortages of skilled labor in Arizona and that there are thousands of jobs going unfilled in some other markets. There are reports that the oil and gas sector is building to meet the demand from the shale plays around the country.  Gas prices at the pump have dropped far enough that OPEC said over the weekend that they are considering a called meeting this month to see what can be done to stabilize the prices.

The air wars are raging with Airbus announcing that they are considering a new A320 airframe assembly plant in Alabama that would employ 2700 construction workers in 2017.  Great news for the “Go Build Alabama” program.

At the same time Boeing has filed complaints in Europe that EADS, the owner of Airbus, receives illegal subsidies from the government that will prevent them from expanding into the US.

In last week’s issue of Engineering News Report (ENR) – subscription required, a report on the Surety Market leads with the proclamation that “This year is expected to be another difficult one for the construction industry.”  The article goes on to predict that the pressure on small contractors and subs will increase as winning bid prices go lower and material prices increase. Generally they are painting the picture that many small and medium construction companies are in survival mode and are expected to stay that way at least for the rest of 2012.

Confused?  Me too.  But wait!  There may be light at the end of the tunnel.

The headline on the article in the same issue on the construction market is: “Industry Sees Flat Market: Wait ‘til Next Year for Recovery.”  The sub-heading on that article is “Many firms are waiting until after the Presidential Elections to green-light projects.”

So, if I understand all that, the solution to the 14.2% unemployment in our industry waits just on the other side of the presidential election in November.  Now if we can just find enough work to make it through the end of the year.

Maybe we ought to get more concerned about the elections and get more involved in the outcome?  How do you see it?


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