Construction companies nationwide are reporting that the stimulus bill passed last February is making it possible to hire new workers, according to information gathered by the Associated General Contractors of America. The early information provides the first glimpse into how federally funded infrastructure and construction projects can help improve overall economic conditions, the association added.
“Early reports indicate that the infrastructure piece of stimulus is beginning to do exactly what was intended, put construction workers back on the job,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. “As today’s employment report shows, however, construction is still one of the hardest-hit industries in terms of job losses.”
Simonson said that as more and more stimulus-funded projects are awarded, a growing number of member companies are reporting adding new jobs or rehiring laid off employees. He said, for example, that Loch Sand and Construction Company in Missouri had recently rehired 15 workers it laid off last year after receiving a stimulus-funded interstate reconstruction contract. Adolfson & Peterson Construction in Minnesota has begun hiring new workers after winning a contract to build a new laboratory in Northern Minnesota with stimulus funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, the economist added.
Meanwhile, Pike Construction in New Hampshire has already hired 30 new employees to help it complete newly awarded road construction projects funded by the stimulus. He added that other companies, like Pyramid Electrical Contractors in Illinois have cancelled layoffs and plan to hire new employees because of stimulus funded work.
Simonson also noted that many contractors, like Slack and Company in Texas, were cancelling planned layoffs because of new stimulus funded work. Noting that an estimated 85 percent of construction companies said they would cancel layoffs or add new employees with the stimulus, he said stimulus funds were keeping a bad business environment from getting substantially worse for many firms.
Simonson said that the latest U.S. Department of Labor employment report for April shows that 110,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were lost in construction, accounting for more than one-fifth of total job losses. He added that the industry’s 18.7-percent unemployment rate is more than double the national average. All five construction categories — residential and nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors, and heavy and civil engineering construction — shed workers last month and for the past 12-month period, Simonson noted.
“It’s tempting to imagine how much worse today’s jobs report would have been without the stimulus,” Simonson said.