Delays to infrastructure bill costing US jobs, contractors’ group says

Hundreds of roadways and bridges in Tennessee were damaged by the severe storms in May 2010 (Martin Grube/FEMA/Public domain)

Nearly a fifth of US metro areas lost construction jobs between September 2020 and September 2021, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released yesterday.

The association said the job losses come as as plans to boost infrastructure “languish in Washington” and firms cope with shortages, delivery delays and construction materials price increases.

“Many metro areas are having a hard time getting back to construction employment levels from last fall that were already low because of the pandemic,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The challenge is that the economic recovery for the construction industry is being undermined by Washington’s failure to boost infrastructure investments and continuing supply chain disfunction.”

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 67 metros and held steady in 33.

Nassau County-Suffolk County, New York, lost the most jobs – 6,000 gone, a drop of 8% – followed by New York City (-5,500 jobs, -4%); New Orleans-Metairie (-3,100 jobs, -12%); and Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s, Maryland (-3,100 jobs, -9%).

Construction employment increased in 258 out of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months.

Association officials urged members of Congress in the House to quickly pass an infrastructure bill that already received broad, bipartisan support in the Senate. They also encouraged the Biden administration to explore ways, like temporarily adjusting hours of service rules for drivers, to unclog shipping facilities that how more goods than drivers.

“Washington leaders have the ability to fix our supply chains now while also investing in their long-term efficiency,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But nothing is going to get fixed with partisan talk and legislative and executive inaction.”

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