27 December, 2013 18:54

Dec 27, 2013, 5:00am PST

Puget Sound region’s economy looks to rebound in 2014

Cranes hover above Amazon’s latest complex on 6th Avenue in Seattle. With tech firms expanding, big transportation projects under way and apartment building booming, some predict construction labor shortages in 2014. Enlarge

BUSINESS JOURNAL PHOTO | Marcus R. Donner

Cranes hover above Amazon’s latest complex on 6th Avenue in Seattle. With tech firms expanding, big transportation projects under way and apartment building booming, some predict construction labor shortages in 2014.

Susanna Ray, Contributing Writer

The cranes slashing across Seattle’s skyline add to the festive colors of the holidays, with their bright lights and Christmas trees. They also boost the exuberance of local business people.

“I’ve been in the business a long time, and this is as good as it could be looking forward— and it’s not just 2014; you’re talking through 2017 or 2018 being very, very busy,” said David Allen, who’s been with the McKinstry Co. construction and design firm for 35 years. “I’m telling you, there is a lot of pent-up demand. There’s so much going on it’s unbelievable.”

There’s currently $10 billion in projects under construction in Seattle, with an additional $20 billion in the pipeline, saidLee Newgent, executive secretary of the Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council.

In the next 12 months, there will be 30 to 40 major projects around King County, Allen said.

The hiring halls are facing the prospect of work force shortages in 2014 as they compete for skilled labor. The state’s unemployment level finally fell below the national rate in 2013 and is expected to keep dropping, spurring contagious confidence that could touch every sector and relegate the Great Recession to history books.

Economists are optimistic about 2014, though it’s tinged with caution.

“The general view is that next year will be better,” said Steve Lerch, the chief economist and executive director of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. “Not great, but better.”

Personal income in the state probably grew at about 3.1 percent in 2013, and that’ll jump to growth of 5.2 percent in 2014, Lerch predicted. Employment, population, construction, retail sales, car sales all are growing. FULL STORY HERE

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