I've been in the Civil Engineering business for over 13 years now and I work on large transportation related projects such as light rail, roads, subways, etc. I recently left my old job because they weren't winning any work and I had nothing left to do. I thought this was strange because engineering related activity in NY/NJ/CT region recently sprung to life like never before.
This sudden surge of activity piqued my interest because its often said that Civil Engineers are the economic canary in the coal mine. If work dries up for them then 12 to 18 months later Contractors will be laying off people. When construction slows down you typically teeter on a recession! The opposite is true if the Engineer's phone is ringing off the hook with work, Contractors will typically be hiring 12 to 18 months later.
Although I consider myself very perceptive in these observations, I still won't come out and say that its definitive proof that the economy will get better. I still think we have a lot of pain to get through, especially in the housing and subprime markets.
Then something happened this weekend that made me ponder this new activity deeper. A friend, and fellow Engineer, made a surprise visit to our house this weekend. My buddy happens to be on the other end of the business, the commercial and residential site development sector. For the past 10 months he's been miserably slow and struggling to keep his staff of four engineers busy. I expected him to tell me that he's about to lay off but instead he told me that work was finally picking up.
Could this mean that the phones are ringing for us again? Is this the beginning of the a recovery in the US economy? Perhaps, but realistically its still too early to tell if we Engineers are seeing the beginning of a turnaround in work across the country or if this is a "blip". Still though, I can't help but see a small glimmer of hope out there and I'm happy to be busy again.
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