News: Construction in doldrums; jobs bill on hold in Olympia

Mar 21 2012

From The Seattle Times:

The line snaked outside Local 440 in Seattle's Central District, plumes of cigarette smoke rising among the silhouettes.

The union represents laborers, including many workers in the heavy highway industry: tunnel builders, pavers, flaggers.

Of its 1,300 nonretired members, about 600 are currently unemployed, and in the dark drizzle of a recent morning, dozens waited to sign a list at the union's roll call, a chance to stay eligible for any job dispatch that might come in.

Though there are signs that the economy is slowly starting to improve, the upswing has not yet come to the local construction industry, which is still struggling after a devastating recession. In the Puget Sound region, construction suffered the largest employment losses of any industry, and since then job growth has flat-lined.

In Olympia, a bipartisan jobs bill intended to aid the industry has been delayed by the Legislature's budget battle, and a national effort that would fund more projects has been held up, hamstrung by a partisan gulf between House and Senate versions of a transportation and infrastructure bill. The U.S. Senate passed the bill Wednesday.

By 2015, the Puget Sound area can expect to get back fewer than half of the 45,600 construction jobs it lost industrywide over the course of the recession, according to projections from the Puget Sound Economic Forecaster.

News: Jobless tell Murray of struggles getting by

Jan 12 2012

From The Seattle Times:

Every morning James Henry, 41, gets up and heads to the union hall, hoping for work.

The Seattle-area construction worker is looking for a job to support his wife, Tammy; buy diapers for the couple's infant daughter, Samantha; and pay his mortgage. He has one week of unemployment benefits left until he needs to apply for an extension. In the meantime, foreclosure is looming.

"I'm a responsible adult. I pay my bills, you know?" Henry told Sen. Patty Murray at a Seattle home Wednesday morning. "But when it comes to a choice between being able to pay for day care so that I can go look for a job and making my mortgage payment, I'm not paying my mortgage payment, and that's just the way it is."

When the Democratic senator asked email subscribers to contact her with stories about unemployment, Natalie Simmons, who lives with her husband on the 5500 block of Wilson Avenue South in Seward Park, invited Murray to their home.