Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Construction Cranes A Towering Sign Of Economic Recovery

Morrow Equipment
Salem-based Morrow Equipment currently has more than 60 cranes deployed throughout the Northwest -- most of them in Seattle.

According to numbers out Wednesday, the number of people out of work and looking for jobs is returning to pre-recession levels in the Northwest.

Washington’s jobless rate dropped to 5.5 percent in April. Oregon hit 5.2 percent in April and Idaho leads the regional recovery with a 3.8 percent jobless rate for March.

But there’s another sign the economy is back.

In the urban landscapes of the Northwest, towering construction cranes are a part of the skyline. The yellow ones belong to Salem-based Morrow Equipment.

Company president Christian Chalupny said business is once again booming and “we are back to almost where we were in 2007.”

That means 380 cranes deployed nationwide right now. More than 60 are in the Northwest alone -- most in the Seattle area. Construction led the way in Washington state between April of last year and April of this year with nearly 20,000 new jobs, more than any other sector.

Since 2012 Morrow has seen 50 percent increases year-over-year in revenues and bookings. And Chalupny says the future looks bright.

“We have a very positive outlook and I don’t see any indication of a slowdown around the corner,” he said.

In fact, demand is so hot Morrow is adding 100 more cranes to its fleet. Now the problem is a shortage of skilled service technicians to maintain the cranes.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."