Morning Brief: Construction Workers Hope For Stimulus

Santiago Castro is one person who is hoping President Obama's stimulus package works.

The father of three small children has barely cobbled together enough money to pay the $2,000-a-month mortgage on his Oxon Hill home with his wife's part-time salary from Dunkin' Donuts and his unemployment check. Castro recently told staff writer Dana Hedgpeth that he worries he will not be able to pay his mortgage this month. He is eating through his savings account, which has dwindled to $700.

Castro is a construction worker and he is hoping that the government's rescue package will help turn things around for his battered industry. The House passed an $819 billion stimulus package on Wednesday, and construction workers, contractors and union officials across the country are hoping that the billions of dollars set aside in the bill for building roads, bridges, schools and more will create jobs.

"I'm frustrated there's no work," Castro said in Spanish as he waited for the doors of Iron Workers Local 201 building on Rhode Island Avenue NE to open. "I'm becoming very, very broke. But I'm hoping Obama's plan works."

In other building news, a once bright spot of the homebuilding industry dimmed a little bit on Thursday.

Up until yesterday, builder NVR of Reston had weathered the housing crisis, posting modest profits while its peers suffered huge losses and some sought bankruptcy protection.

No longer.

The home building giant reported a $30.5 million fourth-quarter loss, its first of the downturn, and said profit for the year fell 70 percent from 2007.

"It is another signal of how bad the housing market is," said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. "New-home sales are at another historic low -- so even the most sound company is bound to be stressed in situations like this."

By Alejandro Lazo  |  January 30, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Morning Brief
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