The often quoted unemployment rate of 10.2%, dire though it is, is only half of the unemployment rate in the construction industry, which stands at 19.1%. The lack of jobs in a predominately male work force has lowered the percentage of men in the work force so that women now make up 50% of workers, a first in the American economy.
Neither of these unemployment rates accounts for the number of people working part time jobs because they could not find full time work or those discouraged people who have stopped looking for work in the past month. That U6 rate is over 17%. In the construction field, it may be over 25%.
Smaller road building projects which received stimulus funds earlier this year have about run their course. Although housing sales have shown improvement, there remains a glut of pending foreclosures that will continue to amply supply the demand for houses in 2010. This steady influx of supply will only dampen new housing construction and continue to put pressure on construction related jobs.
For those who built their working careers in construction during the last 15 years of steady job prospects, this will be a life crisis requiring many to rethink their career path and develop new job skills.