Are You Feeling It?

Laura M. Porinchak / February 2019

You’ve heard the news: The partial government shutdown has left more than 800,000 people without a paycheck for nearly a month now, and there is no paycheck coming to them in the foreseeable future (as of this writing). Airports are having to change their security checkpoints and processes because TSA screeners are calling in sick in record numbers. Tourists coming to Washington, D.C., are met with closed museums and art galleries as government-operated institutions have no one to operate them during the shutdown. (Even the national zoo is closed!) The shutdown is also reportedly being felt in the White House as about only 20 or so of the regular staff of 80 people have not been furloughed. You saw evidence of this on the news when the president bought fast food for the championship Clemson football team when they visited the White House last month.
    
Even businesses that aren’t operated by the government are feeling the pinch. Restaurants in the area have seen business slow tremendously as government workers stay home for their meals. Taxi and ride-sharing services are experiencing the same thing because there are fewer people coming to the area to work.
    
Hopefully it will all be over by the time you read this, but at this point, there is no end in sight. I’m hearing about people who are taking hardship loans from their 401(k) plans or dipping into their savings accounts to make ends meet. Some are considering taking on a second (or third) job. And I have friends who are going to have the cleanest houses on the planet if this goes on much longer.
    
What must it be like to know you have a job, but you can’t do it? Or that you have a job and you have to do it (as essential employees do), but you may not be paid for doing it? Could things get to the point where some people might not just consider a second job, but a second career? If a resolution isn’t reached in the very near future, will some people abandon their government careers and look elsewhere? (Maybe construction?) The uncertainty must be unbearable!
    
The landscape is quite different for wall and ceiling contractors. As we learn from the article that starts on page 28, unlike many government workers, contractors are kind of happy. The work is definitely out there. Backlogs are robust. Contractors are using words like “solid” and “strong” when describing their local economy and the outlook for this new year. Why, even their employees are feeling blessed.
    
But can all the work get done when skilled labor is scarce? Material prices are rising too. Did your estimator account for that when that big job was bid a year ago, before the threat of tariffs? These are legitimate concerns that contractors are going to have to face down. You’ll have to read the article to find out what our members plan to do about it.
    
Speaking of our members, the contractor members of AWCI are listed in our annual AWCI Contractor Directory, which starts on page 34. The listings show contact information as well as the fields of experience. Is your company on the list?
    
Finally, I want to draw your attention to the booklet that is included with this magazine. It contains information on AWCI’s upcoming convention and the INTEX Expo, April 22–26 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. Learn about the education sessions, speakers and other networking events that will take place at this important industry meeting. Also, book your room (they go fast!) and register as soon as you can to make sure you’re a part of the biggest event of the year. I hope to see you there!