The chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) predicts that the construction industry will add as many as 300,000 new jobs next year to decisively rebound from a recession that had crippled it. This could mean good news for many of the country’s contract glaziers who have suffered over the past few years when the market was down.
Ken Simonson projects that the recent uptick enjoyed by both the construction and manufacturing industries will only increase in 2014 as the housing recovery and energy boom spread to more states and contractors are forced to bring on new employees rather than just push more hours on the existing ones.
“Certainly, construction employment has been rising steadily over the last six months,” Simonson says, “and it has accelerated somewhat, as has the overall economy.”
Simonson’s forecast will come as welcome news to the glass industry, whose fortunes are often tied to that of construction. More construction projects typically lead to an increased demand for the services of glass companies.
Ben Wadsworth, the owner of Valley Glass Co. of Walnut, Calif., is set to retire next week after first entering the glazing business in 1956. He welcomed the news of the industry’s improved prospects, but proudly notes that his company has managed to stay in the black even throughout the recent down years.
“We’re doing fine,” he says. “It’s not the greatest thing in the world, but we’ve been keeping our men busy.”
Not everybody else was as fortunate, however, making Simonson’s projections all that much more comforting.
Manufacturing and construction, which had each shed roughly 2 million jobs during the recession, are projected to add 180,000 and 300,000 jobs in the coming year, respectively, Simonson estimates.
If correct, the surge could be a tremendous boon to the nation’s economy as a whole as both industries create ripples through the economy as home building means more furniture sales and production, as well as the need for more services to cater to busier manufacturers.
Simonson’s confidence stems from the latest Department of Labor employment statistics that show construction companies having added 17,000 jobs last month and 60,000 since June after shedding positions in the spring. Manufacturing added 27,000 new jobs in November, according to the latest statistics as the two industries helped the nation’s overall unemployment rate dip to a five-year low of 7 percent last month.
Construction employment figures to be further buoyed by both the continued growth in the oil and natural gas industries and the additional resurgence of the residential construction sector, Simonson says.
“I think we’re going to see big jumps in oil- and natural gas-related construction,” he says. “Things like pipelines and warehouses. Residential construction has been extremely strong all year and I expect it to continue to grow in double digits.”
Other factors behind his optimism include the lack of uncertainty in Washington, D.C., following the recent budget deal reached in Congress and the gradual emergence of Europe from the recession.