Northeastern Construction Industry Gets a Bump From Sandy

The Wrath Of Sandy

Following the destruction brought by Hurricane Sandy, construction companies in the northeastern US are looking at a predicted uptick in jobs over the course of the coming months. The cleanup is coming to an end and the process of rebuilding is set to begin in earnest as soon as the first of 2013. New York City alone may end up seeing more than 100,000 new jobs for electricians, laborers, carpenters, and other related professions.

Whether or not the influx of new jobs will be enough to offset the jobs lost during the recession remains to be seen. The projected 10,000 construction jobs created from Sandy related storm repair are so far less than half of the 22,000 jobs that have evaporated since their pre-recession peak of 137,000.

hurricane sandy construction

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are the three states hardest hit by the storm, and hopes for long term job growth in industries such as ironwork, roofing, and other building trades depends largely on how successful state and local governments are in finding financing for major infrastructure upgrades and repairs.  Between the three states, there are more than $82 billion in emergency funding requests pending, most of which would be used to repair tunnels, transportation, power facilities, and other infrastructure materials designed to withstand future storm events.  The garnering of needed financing depends largely on the actions of Congress as it applies to deficit reduction and looming fiscal cliff concerns.

“Everything slows down, obviously, if we go over the cliff,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group, in Princeton, New Jersey. “A lot of monies for that reconstruction would just not be available in a timely manner.”

The Projected Solution

The reconstruction projects for Sandy related damage could have a long term result of more than 30,000 new jobs in the coming year, with most of them located in the northeast. Many economists are saying it is still way too early to determine what the effects of the hurricane over the long haul will be.

“The notion that somehow the storm solved our employment problem in a long-term structural way – it didn’t,” said Paul Fernandes, chief of staff for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an umbrella group representing all of the city’s construction trade unions.

Reconstruction work has also produced a ripple effect in a number of industries, with Home Depot looking to hire on as many as 500 temporary workers for stores inundated with increased demand for materials. The US Dept. Of Labor is also providing $47 million in grants to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island for those state governments to hire unemployed workers for clean up jobs.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that those grants could provide temporary employment for about 5,000 people.

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