Utilities workers are in high demand as large-scale events requiring their services continue to grow, but employment in the industry is not expected to weather any storms as underemployment is high across the industry.
While blackouts in power industries cost consumers about $29 billion every year and downtime from events such as Hurricane Sandy can cost as much as $50 billion, with increasing effects every year, utilities employment has dropped 4.1 percent since 1999, down to only 61,000 according to Claims Journal. The industry has hit lower points, having bottomed out in 2009 with only 54,070 total employees, but events that can cause damage show the problem of under staffing – companies like Con Edison have requested as many as 2,500 employees before events like Sandy.
Meanwhile, contracting employment has risen in the field, having doubled in the last decade according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. One reason given is the expenses related to hiring full-time workers – in keeping payrolls affordable, companies are more likely to hire less expensive contractors.
However, strong signs of growth in utilities were visible in recent months. Though exact figures are not available, the trade, transportation and utilities industries added 45,000 jobs in July and growth in their industries has remained constant in the past year, according to Economic Populist.