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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 35
adroga Offline OP
Just wondering if the economy is still bad for everyone out there?

I haven't worked for my boss in 3 months, and he doesn't let us know what the deal is. He keeps telling us any week now, but in the last 14 months we've been almost shutdown for over 6 months(maybe more).

If it wasn't for my second weekend job I would be in a worse financial situation.

Its not about finding work, because I can work more hours at my second job to make some money but at this pace as a second year apprentice not only will it take me another 4 years to get my license I will be stuck in financial limbo.

Is this just a bad time economically or is the trade on and off like this for a whole career?

I love the trade but with a new baby and a mortgage to pay sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake by taking a risk and changing careers.

thanks for any helpful advice..

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,333
Likes: 7
Here in NJ, USA there are a lot of IBEW guys that are more 'off' than 'on', mostly due to the economy.

I'm an AHJ and I can say the Twp I'm in has been steady with work, although the big boom is definitely been gone for 1-1/2 to 2 years. Comm has been tenant fit-outs, and renovations, with very, very new construction, except for a Sam's Club & Fuel Station. I consider myself fortunate & lucky that the Twp is steady with about 4000 permits annually.

The resi is a few new single family houses, and 2 22 unit condo bldgs to finish. A lot of renovation & additions.

What I hear from the EC's and sparkys ranges from 'dead' to getting by, to busy.

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 35
adroga Offline OP
Most people I know are working 15 hours a week or have been off for several weeks/months....

Its funny how they have been pushing trades and other vocational studies in canada but the market is tough, even tougher for apprentices. maybe 8 out of 20 students from school worked at all, and half of those are done due to job insecurity.

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
The slow down has just begun, especially for Canada.

The problem is that the banks in underwater with commercial real estate lending, massively so.

Rents are dropping fast and hard.

The overhang of new/newish construction is much more profound than anything seen since the Great Depression -- and even including it!

Moodys calculated that Arizona, California, Oregon and Nevada will normalize in twenty years maybe twenty five.

Why so long? Population demographics and financing.

Down payments, which used to be zero, are climbing fast back towards 10 and 20 percent down; more for landlords.

Based upon incomes, most of the recent construction is unaffordable to new buyers. Many existing occupants are not paying their mortgages at all. Best estimates place these in the millions of homes, nationally.

Falling real wages means that the ability to purchase a home is also falling in real terms. Here abouts ECs are dropping their wages 20 to 30 percent and cutting out all health benefits. If you don't like it then the exit door awaits.

This wage roll-back is across the board.

Every day CraigsList shows tradesmen liquidating their most marketable high dollar tools. I expect that unemployment in our craft will continue to rise and rise until the contraction reaches 80 percent, perhaps more. ( California drew tradesmen from all over the country during the boom, so it's only natural that the drop must be dramatic.)

Speed-ups are also underway as well as piece work. Many marginal operators are throwing away the rule book to stay afloat. It can work until the day it doesn't.

The only port in the storm is new wave PV arrays and in the out-years installing heavy-ups as the market embraces electric vehicles.

I'd never thought that I'd ever see the day that these two would take off. But the Federal credits make solar viable for many, especially here.

As for electric cars, astounding increases in battery performance ( now shown in the iPad, iPod, and iPhone ) should provide batteries that can actually be recharged in twenty minutes without being cooked to death.

So, in the out-years, I expect to see commercial recharging stations along the major highways.

In the same vein, CNG refueling stops are sure to crop-up. CNG runs diesels super well -- and at HALF the cost! Truckers will embrace cab-top tanks.

In the mean time, we're all in the hurt locker. No one has it easy.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,370
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Every trade, every busines, has its' cycles. What is important to realize is that there is no law that says you have to experience the same thing as your neighbor.

For example, Finland enjoyed a livley economy while the countries around her had the 'Great Depression.' More topical, this very recession has growth for some.

To be specific, the oil business, and those associated with it, are booming. Whether you're relocating to some place where they actually remove oil from the ground (Alberta, North Dakota), or in an associated business (these days I'm making oil pipe), these are the 'good old days.' Central Nevada is experiencing a mining boom as well. I mean, I never thought I'd find work in the poorest county of the poorest state!

By way of contrast, if you're determined to make cars, these days are pretty bleak.

Don't expect the 'media' to help you; they are far more interested in telling you about how rough it is in the housing projects that in telling you of the prosperous new suburb a few streets over. You'll see all manner of coverage of the unemployed in Detroit, and little mention of the hustle & bustle in Minot ND.

In personal terms, it's not enough to 'just' be an electrician. The jobs I see posted require some other skills as well: commercial drivers' license, welding, HVAC certification, stationary engineers' license, instrumentation degrees, etc. There's also - no surprise here - the occasional temp job that involves a labor dispute.

From my own perspective, I've seen several folks quit in the past week. Considering how tight these times are, I can only assume that they found other employment before they quit. This is suggesting that perhaps the turn-around has started.

Sure, it's not all mice and moonlight out there ... but don't let your own self-imposed limitations destroy you.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,788
Likes: 14
New construction is struggling to get up off the bottom in Florida but it is a slow inching upward. The builders who had sense enough to drop their prices by about half are actually selling new houses but it sure makes the neighbor mad when he sees a new guy buying a house just like his for half price.

The service end is still doing OK but you do have to go hustle up the work. The gate guy just hired away my wife's assistant for about $22 an hour. It was $5 more for him and she is growing a new guy to replace the one she lost. At least something is moving. The depressing thing was the number of people who showed up for an entry level $12 an hour handyman job. There was at least one journeyman electrician and several college degrees. She cut off the applications at 50.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233
I am like John and I too am an AHJ here in north jersey. The rsi boys around here are very busy, but the bigger jobs are still far and few between. I have over 50 permits go past my desk in the last 2 weeks. It is mostly, kitchens, bathrooms, bump outs, basements, air conditioners, and pools.
So if you are a small EC who does residential renovations, you should be busier around these parts.

In my town that I inspect in, though there are a few tenant fit outs, office remodels and large HVAC systems being done. I have also had several PV systems that were installed, including a very large array with over 1,000 panels ( Though I didn't count each one smile ) that put out almost 400 amp and 480 volts.

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 368
Greg, any PHD's applying for the job at your wife's company?

Friend of mine has an opening for an entry level CET at the engineering company he works for and they are getting engineers with years of experience and ones with PHD's applying for the job.

Most of the applications are coming from people laid off from the auto companies and their suppliers in Ontario and are willing to move to a different province for a job.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,788
Likes: 14
We don't get many auto workers here. It is mostly people laid off from construction in the various ends of that business.
In a small place like this, where construction was a main industry, you can really see how many different types of jobs that provided. It is not just the guys on the job site. You have the whole supply chain, the support staffs at the construction companies to the people who provide machines and feed everyone lunch, all out of work.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 1
New Member
It is interesting as a current electrician student to hear about the ups and downs of the trade I am pursuing. Can any electrician out there tell me about how the job outlook in South Jersey is?

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