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June 18, 2009

U.S. stimulus package starts to ease ‘horrendous’ jobless rate

ARLINGTON, Va.

Unemployment in the construction sector climbed to a “horrendous” 19.2 per cent (not-seasonally adjusted) as an additional 59,000 construction workers lost their jobs in May according to new federal data, said construction economist Ken Simonson.

Simonson, who discussed the significance of the new jobs data during a recent media conference call with contractors from across the United States, said that construction employment has declined by 990,000 jobs, or 14 per cent, in the past year while overall non-farm employment has declined by 4 per cent.

“Construction continues to bear a disproportionate share of the pain from the recession,” Simonson, the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said.

“Simply put, the unemployment rate for construction in May was horrendous.”

Simonson said that the construction employment figures would likely have been worse if not for the stimulus.

For example, Coos Bay, Oregon-based Laskey Clifton was able to put 24 employees on its payroll because of a stimulus-funded highway contract.

Iowa-based General Constructors and A.M. Cohron & Sons have hired 7 new employees between them and plan to add another ten to their payroll because of stimulus funded road work it is doing in Illinois. New Kensington, Pennsylvania’s Sank Associated Companies has hired 10 employees to work on a stimulus funded bridge project.

“The stimulus is doing its job putting men and women back to work,” said Simonson.

“It is boosting opportunity and generating economic activity in an increasingly broad geographic area.”

DCN News Service

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