Times are a changin' - for better or worse?
October 1, 2010
Maybe it’s the fact that October means fall, with its cooling temperatures and changing - and falling - leaves, but I get a sense that the season isn’t all that is shifting.
There are rumblings and predictions that control in Washington, D.C., could be changing too, as Republicans have a good chance at retaking the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 2006. Even the U.S. Senate, which typically sees much slower turnover - as designed by the Founding Fathers - could change political control.
What that could mean for the U.S. economy and the interests of sheet metal and HVAC contractors is uncertain and depends, I suppose, on your political beliefs. Either way, it will be interesting to watch.
Another change - a slightly good one, I’d add - was an online news story that quoted officials with Sheet Metal Workers union Local 36 in St. Louis.
If you are a follower of Snips on our Twitter page, www.twitter.com/snipsmag (and if you aren’t, you should be!), you might have seen that I “tweeted” this news item a few weeks ago.
St. Louis radio station KMOX quoted union President David Zimmerman as saying that the unemployment rate among members was currently 27 percent. By itself, that’s a terrible number and equal to the U.S. unemployment rate during much of the Great Depression. But Zimmerman also mentioned that last winter, 35 percent of his members were looking for work.
That’s a little encouraging, although I should add that the station also reported that the 1,600-member local once had 2,300 members, and a quarter of those who remain are in need of work.
I’m not trumpeting this as great news, but it does pass for a bright spot in today’s construction economy. I’ve attended too many conventions in the last couple years where pundits predicted an upturn was coming soon. They may be right, but it has been a very mild upturn for many of the companies lucky enough to feel it.
This month, I hope to personally find out how contractors are doing. Snips will be attending three major industry shows: The Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s annual convention in Phoenix; the Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International’s conference in Houston; and Metalcon International, the building event in Las Vegas.
As always, I’m hoping to come back with some new perspectives on how HVAC companies and contractors are handling this recession that seems to drag on. If you have any recession stories of survival you’d like to share, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We might include your comments on this page or use you in a story.