ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Leaders of the local construction industry say the hard times that began in 2008 are continuing — with the unemployement rate among skilled laborers hovering between 20 and 25 percent.
“I think it’s been absolutely devestating,” said Jeff Abousie, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, “People have had to learn how to work out of town. People are taking those skills, and they’re going outside this region to work.”
Abousie says there are some local projects on the horizon. He cited the planned expanion of the GM plant in Wentzville, possible construction of the Emerald Automotive factory in Hazelwood, expansion of Mercy hospital and BJC. But there are no major plans for major office construction, as the area remains glutted with vacant office space.
“It’s not enough,” he said, “to put everyone back to work.”
Echoing those concerns, Bill Brown, President CEO of Ben Hur Construction, says there’s a “wait and see” attitude about what might happen after the presidential election.
“Some folks would prefer a Republican adminstration just because of the regulations more friendly to the construction industry,” Brown said. Others, he noted, want to stay the coarse with the current adminstration because of it’s emphasis on green construction projects.
The Federal Reserve announcement that more money will be pumped into the economy was met with approval by those in the crowd.
“I got to believe that that can only help,” Abousie said, “I mean, there is a lot of money sitting on the sidelines. Anything to entice these big companies to start building to expand their factories or their campuses would definitely be an upside for the construction industry.”