Bleak Outlook for Construction Business
Greg Layne’s moving out of his house in Austin. He’s a 29-year-old sub-contractor in homebuilding construction. Four days ago he decided to pack up his things are relocate to Phoenix for a job.
“It is about three months ago here in Austin is when things changed,” says Layne. “Literally we were completing a job, I was up for a promotion and we were really excited about it. I was excited about it, everyone was excited about it. We were going to do some bigger projects. And literally within a week everything stopped.”
Layne slams the door shut on his moving trailer. It will take about 20 hours to drive to Phoenix. He won’t have much time for pit stops because his job starts in a couple days. But Layne’s just happy to have the work.
“Some of my other contacts I have here are just flat out of work,” he says. “One friend I have here took a job as a waiter, something he did before he became a carpenter. A couple people I know are just flat out of work, just kind of waiting it out, always kind of looking for something.”
Austin’s downturn isn’t as severe as the rest of the country for now. Home building has so far been hit the worst. But Steve Sandherr, who is with the Associated General Contractors of America, says all areas of the industry
- including commercial building and utilities infrastructure - expect to struggle this year.
“We are seeing significant layoffs in the industry,” said Sandherr. “We’ve just done a member survey which shows that our members are not optimistic about the near term. About two-thirds of them are planning to layoff employees off in the next six-to-twelve months.”
Sandherr is crossing his fingers that President-Elect Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package will include a significant investment in infrastructure. Without that investment
- he warns the unemployment rate in the construction business will probably continue to rise.