MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- WMOT News continues to search for those thin slices of the state's economy that actually prospered during the economic downturn, in a series of stories entitled “Tennessee Works.”
For the most part, Tennessee’s construction sector suffered badly during the recession and is just now showing signs of recovery. But figures provided by the Tennessee Department of Labor suggests companies that specialize in the construction of utilities fared better than most.
Companies that build water systems or gas lines, for example, enjoyed a 35 percent jump in employment during the three year period ending in April, 2011.
Bob Freudenthall is Executive Director of the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts. He says his 400 member utilities benefited from providing essential services.
“Folks, no matter what phase of the economy we’re in, still need basic public services; water, waste water, gas services. Those systems still have demands on them that require replacement, expansion, or maintenance.”
Freudenthall says utilities also benefited from federal stimulus spending on infrastructure. In addition, he says many utilities took advantage of historically low interest rates to fund construction projects.