As part of Marketplace's coverage of President Barack Obama's address to Congress tonight, in which he unveiled a $447 billion plan to invest in jobs, journalism students from the University of Southern California interviewed Los Angeles-area business owners and business leaders for reaction.
Construction took one of the hardest hits during the housing crisis and it hasn't budged much since. Between December 2007 and June 2009 construction employment fell by 1.5 million, nearly 20 percent.
Mark Banducci, a general contractor and sole proprietor of Banducci Builders in Sherman Oaks, Calif., launched his business just over a year ago, in the midst of one of the sharpest downturns the sector has ever seen. But this year, he has plans to hire his first employees as he begins to expand his business. He now has 30 to 40 clients and brings in about $120,000 a year in revenue. Despite the bleak economic news, he says business has been picking up over the last few months.
Mark Banducci, general contractor
LOCATION: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 1
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 0
HIRING THIS YEAR? "Yep"
On what he's facing now:
"I've been working in construction for 20 years. Three years ago everything just stopped and I was struggling to find any work at all. So I decided to start my own company. After I started my business things started picking up. At this point, things are actually going really well. I could take on so much more work, but I just don't have employees. Unemployment insurance and workers compensation is very expensive. I'm barely scraping by as it is paying subcontractors and paying for materials. If I can hire more workers, I can get more income."
On the President's speech:
"The $4,000 tax credit to hire anybody who's been on unemployment for six months, I thought, was incredible. Paying half of payroll taxes for the entire year is huge. I don't have employees, but I kind of wish I did. And at the end of the year, a $1,500 tax cut for families? That's incredible, too. Also, I think it's opening doors by extending unemployment insurance for another year."
- by Ryan Faughnder