My son, daughter and I were on our way to a Cub Scout field trip and running a little late, as is prone to happen on the weekend. We were almost to our meeting place when all of a sudden we had to come to a complete stop and wait for a few moments. It seems that there was some paving taking place on an adjacent street and the construction crew was working to get an asphalt distributor on to the street and on its way.
Is this noteworthy? Well, yes it is during these times.
As always, the construction equipment industry sits typically at the tipping point, as our economy enters into economic recessions. And thankfully, the industry is typically the first to experience recovery.
I’ve spent the past two years watching friends in this industry experience furloughs, pay cuts and job loss. It has been a particularly tough year, as I have traveled with our territory managers across the southeast and have spoken with our customers.
While the national unemployment rate is stands at around 10.2%, Engineering News Record reports the construction unemployment rate climbed to 18.7% in October – up from 17.1% in September.
D.Ann Shiffler, Editor of American Cranes & Specialized Transport reported in the November issue that when construction equipment manufacturers and distributors and equipment service facilities are placed in the mix, the sector has shed 37% of its workforce. She goes on to say, “By comparison, auto manufacturing and dealership are down 16 percent while job losses in the finance and insurance industry amount to 6 percent of the workforce.”
So, what is my point? We need a stimulus plan that stimulates more than just conversation. We need targeted spending that puts the construction industry back to work again on roads and bridges. More importantly, we need Congress to reauthorize SAFTEA-LU and to come up with other creative measures to get the construction sector running again.
I don’t know if my next venture will keep me in the construction equipment industry. In any event, I will keep a close eye on the industry in hopes that some very talented people who are sitting on the sidelines can get back into the game.
As I’ve told many of our customers, the one thing that I know for certain is that we’re one day closer to economic recovery today than we were yesterday.
Here’s to hoping that we’re one day closer to a few more traffic jams.