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Sandy jobs could lure Arizona construction workers

PHOENIX — The impact of superstorm Sandy could have a positive effect on the personal future of Arizona construction workers, but it could bode ill for the state.

More than 200,000 construction workers lost jobs in Arizona during the recession. Many of them are still jobless and could be heading east to help with rebuilding after the destruction left in the wake of Sandy.

“Their skills could be used in heavy equipment operation and rebuilding,” said David Jones with the Arizona Construction Association. “If they weigh the next three to four years for construction work, it would be worth it to put their shoulder to the wheel and rebuild the East Coast.”

But the problem is that many of those workers may not return to Arizona.

Jones said that will be a problem when it comes time to start building here on a large scale.

“We may have to pull workers from California, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas if we show a healthier appetite for construction,” he said.

Jones believes it will take at least seven to 10 years to complete the rebuilding job in the east and the needs will be great.

“Equipment operators, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, roofers all will be in demand,” he said. “There’s another consideration: because the East Coast will want to get back online as soon as possible, the wages will likely be better there than here.”