Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today's Numbers: In Search of Skilled Construction Labor

Number of employees Bank of America shed between the end of 2011 and the end of 2012: 14,601

 Dogged by continuing problems after the mortgage collapse and subsequent $8.5 billion settlement over foreclosure abuses, Bank of America is whittling expenses -- and employees -- to shore up profitability. From the New York Times:
"For Bank of America and Citigroup, the recent mortgage settlements are a reminder of past mistakes. During the housing boom, Citigroup, like other Wall Street firms, sold to investors billions of dollars of securities backed by subprime mortgages that later hurt its balance sheet. Bank of America largely inherited its mortgage woes through Countrywide Financial, the subprime lending giant it bought in the depths of the financial crisis."

Estimated crowd at Barack Obama's second inauguration yesterday: 500,000 to 1 million

From Reuters:
"Obama's ceremonial swearing-in fell on the same day as the national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. -- and the president embraced the symbolism.
"He took the oath with his hand on two Bibles -- one from President Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery, and the other from King. Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights figure Medgar Evers, was given the honor of delivering the invocation at the ceremony."

Number of construction jobs lost since housing peak: more than 2 million

Yet many housing markets around the country are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers. From NPR:
"'I have heard many reports from builders who say they can't hire enough people, they can't find subcontractors, they're unable to get the labor necessary to build homes that they do have on order — even at the low level of building that's occurring right now,' [NAHB chief economist David] Crowe says.

"...Decades ago, [Maret Brothers regional vice president Mike] Holland says, unions trained workers in the trades — skills like plumbing or electrical wiring. But now, companies typically rely on independent contractors — and the companies themselves are reluctant to invest in worker training. "

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