NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry

When will the jobs return?

Posted on Oct 09, 2009 by John M Grau

I came across some pretty sobering statistics recently regarding the US jobs market. While economists are claiming that the recession is over and we're on our way to recovery, I don't see how we can truly say the economy is back until people are working again. Consumer spending drives over two-thirds of our economy and, without jobs, people are going to be careful about their spending.

So here are the stats.

The U.S. has shed 7.2 million jobs since the recession began in 2007. (By the way, over a million of those jobs were in construction). In addition to recovering those 7.2 million jobs, we need 100,000 additional jobs per month to keep up with population growth. If job market growth returns to the rapid pace of the 1990s (which is twice the rate of the 2001-2007 period) we won’t get back to an unemployment rate in the 5% range until late 2017!!! And that assumes no recession between now and then.

Right now, we have about 10% unemployment and many economists think that number may grow some more before it starts to fall sometime late next year. But it's not going to fall fast. HIS Global Insight forecasts unemployment at 8.1% in 2013 and 5.75% in 2019.

The other big question is, where will the new jobs come from? Some jobs are permanently gone and some will be in fields that we can't even imagine today. A quarter of today's workers are in jobs that the Census Bureau didn't even list as occupations 25 years ago.

Some people are banking on electricity in the future. The Wall Street Journal printed an article this week titled: "5 Technologies That Could Change Everything." Three of the five technologies involve electricity (solar energy, renewable energy storage, and advanced car batteries).

With the nation’s emphasis on "green" jobs and renewable energy technology, student enrollment in power engineering programs is soaring. That's also a good sign for the electrical industry.

While none of this guarantees growth for electrical contractors, it sure seems like we have a shot at being in the right business at the right time.

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NECA Transmissions is a collaborative effort from CEO John Grau and NECA staff to provide insight and feedback on key issues from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry.

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