DCN ARCHIVES

March 17, 2011

Associated General Contractors of America releases plan to boost construction demand

PHOENIX

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has released a new national plan detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction. Officials said the plan was needed to reverse construction employment declines that have taken place in 317 out of 337 metro areas since January 2007.

“Our goal is to rebuild a devastated construction market that has left millions jobless, littered cities with incomplete projects and sapped much needed revenue, commerce and customers out of our economy,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

“Considering the scope and impact of construction job losses, the last thing any of us can afford is a repeat of the past four years.”

The plan, called Building a Stronger Future, A New Blueprint for Economic Growth, outlines measures to help boost private-sector demand for construction, help tackle a growing infrastructure maintenance backlog and reduce red tape.

Sandherr said the association developed the plan to overcome the years-long construction downturn that has left more than 2.2 million construction workers unemployed and the industry’s unemployment rate at 21.8 per cent, more than twice the national average.

Sandherr released the plan and the new employment figures, during a visit to Phoenix, Ariz., which has lost more construction jobs — 91,400 — than any other U.S. metro area since the start of the construction downturn in January 2007.

Nationwide, 28 cities lost 50 per cent or more of their construction jobs.

Only 14 metro areas added construction jobs during the past four years, while employment levels were unchanged in another six. The five metro areas with the largest construction employment gains were all in Texas.

“In too many metro areas, the construction industry is a mere shadow of what it was just four years ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, who prepared the new employment analysis. “This new data should make it pretty clear that the sector’s revival is anything but guaranteed.”

Sandherr said the recovery plan emphasizes boosting private-sector demand, which once accounted for 76 per cent of all construction activity, but now accounts for only 60 per cent. It calls for approving pending trade agreements to boost demand for manufacturing and shipping facilities, repealing the alternative minimum tax and making permanent the tax cuts that were first put in place in 2001 and 2003.

The plan also identifies new tax credits to encourage retail and restaurant upgrades, improve the efficiency of commercial buildings and help contractors invest in new, more efficient construction equipment. And it urges Congress and the Administration to finally end the double taxation of U.S-based businesses that succeed in international markets.

DCN News Services

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