On this Labor Day, Design & the Bottom Line salutes all the workers who make this country great. Unfortunately this Labor Day comes a week after the August employment report which notes that the country added exactly zero new jobs last month. Zero new jobs when 285,000 jobs are required per month to reduce the unemployment rate! No wonder economists are predicting that it will take until 2024 to fully replace the fourteen million Americans who have lost their jobs since the recession began. This report is not news to many architects, engineers and contractors who have endured a 25% unemployment rate for more than two years.
Contrast our current malaise to 1930 in the midst of the depression with unemployment rates of over 50% in the construction trades. Private developers and financiers went ahead with the audacious plan to build the Empire State Building. Employing over 3,000 laborers and building four and a half stories a week to complete the tallest building in the world on time and within budget in just eighteen months! The story of the Empire State building is the story of American ingenuity – including innovations in zoning, finance, design, construction and the labor organization required to build the iconic structure.
Contrast this result with what America will most likely hear this week from Washington – more government spending and stimulus with government picking winners and losers. If it is anything like the governments $535 Million “Investment” in the now bankrupt Solyndra “Green Energy” company, hold on to your children’s wallets. The Bottom Line: Private investment, risk and ingenuity will trump Beltway Bureaucrats and their “investment” [sic] spending plans every time.
A great resource on The Empire State Building is a book by John Tauranac. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.