Construction workers more upbeat?

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Forum topic by Craftsman on the lake posted 03-12-2012 09:55 PM 2004 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Craftsman on the lake

3012 posts in 3944 days

03-12-2012 09:55 PM

The past couple of years I’d go to the lumber yard or big box stores and only see individuals buying things for small home improvement stuff. Hardly any contractors, even at this time of the year in the spring.

Lately, I’ve notices changes. I see a lot of contractor trucks and vans at these places. I’m not one myself but it looks a lot better than it has. I make it a point to talk to them in the stores and parking lots, often helping them load some plywood or sheetrock as an excuse. I ask them point blank if work is picking up. Almost all of them say that it’s not great but they all have some work where there wasn’t any before. They see a slow progression of work picking up over time and they all say that it started happening this spring.

Today I was replacing some trim flashing on my sisters cottage blown off during a big wind this winter. Two guys where remodeling a place, inside and out next door. They were doing the siding. I asked them and they stopped and talked to me awhile. The business owner said that he had three jobs lined up. More in a couple months than he’d had in the past couple of years.

This is Maine, not the worst of state but no industrial mecca either.

Lots of economic indicators are up. Maybe it’s for real. Slowly sure, but moving upward would be a nice change.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

30 replies so far

View devann's profile


2250 posts in 3199 days

#1 posted 03-12-2012 10:20 PM

Short answer, NO.

When free enterprise is alive and well, construction will be doing well again. The government needs to get out of way for the economy to have a robust rebound. At present, the Federal Government has it’s hands deep in “free enterprises” pockets, of coarse there are those in Washington D.C. that feel that they know more about free enterprise than those that pursue it. This would be the very same people that have never made a payroll and don’t know what it means to do so or have never worked in the private sector for any length of time.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4259 days

#2 posted 03-12-2012 10:51 PM

No….they are barely scraping by. The developers who are building, are cutting costs and the sub contractor gets the shaft. The developer knows that the sub contractor has to eat, and will eventually fold to his pricing. Alot of economic indicators are falsely led by the goverment. I have been extremely lucky to fall in with a real estate company that recovers alot of Fannie Mae repo’s. They put the bare minimum into them and resell them. I am backed up for a few months as of right now. Most other subs are begging. It mostly depends on your area.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2742 posts in 3428 days

#3 posted 03-13-2012 02:46 AM

I am a retired construction worker and I also ask tradesmen if they are busy and all say they are. The unemployment rate here in Lubbock Texas is 5.9% and has not been much over 6.1% over the past 6 years. Texas pretty much leaves the small businessman alone and there is no state income tax, so, here at least, life is good.

-- No PHD just a DD214

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2861 days

#4 posted 03-13-2012 02:57 AM

Well yes and no, and there’s alot of political things I can get into, but won’t, this isn’t the forum for it. Yes, I’m keeping busy, for now, but no it’s not great, I’m not really making a living, or even close to what I should be making, because in order to get the jobs, I have to fit into smaller budgets, the problem is, over the past oh 3 years, prices on my materials have gone up a good 50-60% depending on what it is. My gas tank is bleeding me even more painfully than I want to admit…. AND apperently people who are in the country legally working and paying their taxes get the shaft too much in this country…. Enforce the danged laws….

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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Craftsman on the lake

3012 posts in 3944 days

#5 posted 03-13-2012 03:11 AM

Interesting. Google ‘state unemployment rate’ with your state, so ‘Maine unemployment rate’ and you’ll get a graph in which you can click any other states and see where their level of unemployment has been. Interestingly, unemployment has been as high as in 1992 during the last big recession, dot com bubble. Also interstingly is that unemployment has dropped in every state since around 2009-2010. Anyone over 40 yrs old has seen numerous cycles like this. This cycle looks just like the one in ‘92. It took a few years for it to settle down to a low level. The lowering rate looks to be the same. Like before. I don’t think the end of the world is at hand like some news outlets tell us. I think it’s just the same-old-same-old. And I’ll go back to my original post. I think the construction industry picking up is a good indicator of this. The US has always bounced back. It’s happening now. I can feel it.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2861 days

#6 posted 03-13-2012 03:37 AM

Your optimism is admirable, however, these numbers are gathered from people who recieve unemployment benefits, they have no way of tracking those who no longer are employed but have no benefits remaining, or have totally given up on the system and have wound up on the streets.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3120 days

#7 posted 03-13-2012 03:41 AM

yes i think it is getting back on its feet the economy but i live in Louisiana and we’re last to feel it.i don’t think that we ever got out of the last repression,but we’ll make it thur.many years ago i had a small club /bar on the river nice place you could sit and watch the river and boats go by just a peaceful place to relax .next to the place was a train track after years of watching the trains cross the rail road bridge i noticed that ,for instance during the 90s when thing were going well the trains were long i mean relly long and often. but the year that things were slow they were few and short.i still notice it now they are getting longer.might not be a indicator but if the economy get going i want mind waiting for a long train to go by

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

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Craftsman on the lake

3012 posts in 3944 days

#8 posted 03-13-2012 03:56 AM

Right TCC but the this method of record keeping didn’t start last year. The entire graph uses the same method. One thing about deep recessions is that everyone thinks it’s always the first or worst one that has ever been. It’s different. It’s not silicon valley going belly up like in ‘92 and the path it takes is different but the results are the same.

Our saying in Maine is that we really don’t notice recessions that much because we’re always a little in recession all the time.

Also, with unemployment at 6 or 8 or 10 or 15 or whatever percent you think it is, have you noticed that the new ipad sold out, in online orders in one day? Or that a lot of people have $80/month cell phone plans or $120 cable subscriptions? You see a lot of new cars around and everyone seems to be on a cruise ship? BTW, I don’t do any of these. The 85-90% of the people who are working seem to not be in recession. In the news we hear of them pulling back simply because they feel they should considering all the talk. If you’re working you perceive a recession. If you’re out of work it’s a depression.

Again, to keep this a woodworking topic. I think that my seeing a lot of contractors picking up stuff as an indicator of things to come. For those of you who do this for a living, I hope it picks up for you. It’s a hard way to make a living. I do all manner of things construction but only infrequently when it happens to come my way. It’s not my profession. It’s hard work. You feel it at the end of the day. Think positive?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4259 days

#9 posted 03-13-2012 08:35 AM

TCC….. I feel your pain about the rising costs of materials. I recieved a letter from my sheetrock distributor about 5 months ago stating that they are sorry about having to raise the price of sheetrock by 30%. I stopped putting in bids shortly after. I know a few sub contractors who still charging the same rates (per board) since the increase, and are taking that slow death spiral. I am out of the game altogether for now.

Craftsman….. Lumber, sheetrock, and other materials are going through the roof right now. The price of gasoline is a major concern as well. I used to burn a couple of tanks of fuel each week just running around doing take off’s for bids. I was smart enough to jump ship right about the time all the pricing escalated. I’m doing “petty” type work now for a realtors who are handling alot of Fannie Mae repo’s. There are alot of small outfits locally that laid off thier workers and are trying to get by on a smaller scale. Many of the larger contractors have laid off thier workers and only hire the cheaper “hispanic” sub contractors to avoid the oncoming Obama regulations. The landscape is changing dramatically at this time in the construction field.

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2883 days

#10 posted 03-13-2012 09:01 AM

The rising cost of fuel makes the cost of everything go up. That’s what did our economy in and started this recession. People had to start paying 3-4 times for gas then what they did when they stretched themselves to buy that big house and now all of a sudden they couldnt afford to get to work or make the mortgage payment. We should get pay rate increases as often and as much as the price of gas goes up. That would solve everything.
Unfortunately crap falls downhill and the cost of living keeps getting passed on down to the bottom of the work force and our backs can only take so much. I work in the commercial construction field and we have plenty of invitations to bid on projects but when you spend 4-6 hours to do a bid on the hopes of getting the job you have to really cut the costs tight and that gets expensive real fast.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View joey bealis's profile

joey bealis

177 posts in 3013 days

#11 posted 03-13-2012 10:11 AM

I have had work whenever I have needed it for the past few years. The difference is with still with peoples budget. I have not been able to get my normal price and with costs up I am lucky to just get a paycheck on jobs I do much less make any money.


View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17960 posts in 3513 days

#12 posted 03-13-2012 12:48 PM

On the commercial end here in CT it seems like things are moving a little bit toward getting better. Ive noticed that there is a lot of public bids out there (goverment / state funding) but the private stuff is not what it used to be. There are jobs out there but they tend to be on the smaller scale. It seems like the private sector is doing enough to get by but not really investing into the future with their buildings. Ive lost a couple of good sized demo jobs lately and they have gone for less than my estimated cost. Maybe im expensive with my pricing or maybe theres a lot of hungry folks out there i dunno.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4155 days

#13 posted 03-13-2012 01:40 PM

nice post Dan.

I think the economy moves as a whole, once the banks and the money starts to balance and pick up everything else is pulled afterwards. once the high-paid job market starts to pick up, people have more money to spend and invest in other things like remodeling, new equipment and the likes, and that draws other markets with it upwards.

Lets hope this continues to grow and stabilize as we all benefit from it.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View bruc101's profile


1366 posts in 4048 days

#14 posted 03-13-2012 04:04 PM

I live in a major resort area in the Georgia mountains in a county of 16,000 people. The county politicians always thought tourism would sustain the county The actual industry here was new home construction for small to multi million dollar vacation homes that was sustaining the county. The tourism here started falling apart when the casino opened up in Cherokee. Most traffic here now is through traffic going to Cherokee.

When the housing industry went boom so did just about everything else here. All the big players in construction are either gone due to foreclosures and no work. When construction went so did most of our trades due to no work. Several cabinet shops are either gone or struggling. A lot of mom and pop stores are no longer here. In the paper one time it said there were about 15 empty spaces or buildings empty and no one to fill them. That’s a lot for a small community like ours. Foreclosures have not slowed here. I was told our unemployment here is between 15 and 18% and it seems it’s not going to get better for years more.

There are many vacation homes here on the market with no lookers nor takers and the people that are existing with their vacation homes probably have old money and have no idea how bad things are nor could care less.
Word is we have a plant with 66 employees that could be relocating to another town soon because of our stupid politicians not working with them on more room. So, there goes 66 jobs and more losses to our community.

In my cabinet shop I’ve not built a kitchen in a new home in at least 5 years, mostly upgrades and people that could afford a steal on a foreclosure home and wanted a new kitchen. I was able to survive because I had no debt of any kind and owned all my property and vehicles. We’ve never used credit cards and have no desire to.

It’s nice to hear things are improving out there for some of you in your areas, let’s hope it will continue to improve for everyone.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3373 days

#15 posted 03-13-2012 07:13 PM

We own an architectural molding company. I haven’t seen much indication that the economy is picking up in any meaningful way. We have to work a whole lot harder because the orders are smaller and are almost all custom. We have had to cut our overhead to the bone and let go of at least a third of the workforce. There are no houses being built compared to what were being built. There is an over-supply of both homes and commercial space. Major retailers are not doing that well either. Their sales are up in some cases but they have had to build more stores to get the sales. Their sales per square foot and the profits per square foot are down. From what I understand the next bubble to bust will be the commercial real estate bubble. I don’t think that what we are experiencing is any 2 percent inflation rate. I think the inflation rate is significantly higher. Surely most people see that it is higher from the prices that they have to pay for necessities in the stores. Construction has always been an important part of a recovery. So where is the construction? I just don’t see that it is anything like it was. Are not home prices still falling? There is an over-supply of them. My son in law had an excellent construction job out in Las Vegas working on a 2 $Billion gambling casino. It was stopped in mid stride and has been sitting there for 4 years gathering dust costing somebody hundreds of thousands in interest. Do you no how many people a project like that employs? It’s a lot of people. My son in law keeps up with construction and has been trying to find the kind of work in his former job while he works at much lower paying jobs to get by. I sincerely hope there is a recovery growing but it is hard for me to believe it from what I see.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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