States could quickly put many back to work with infrastructure stimulus, AGC says.

The recent Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report showed the unemployment rate for construction workers jumped to 10.8 percent last month. Chief Economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, Ken Simonson, said the numbers are especially bad for the construction segment, and shows the “urgency of enacting infrastructure spending as part of a stimulus bill.”

"Construction had ― by far ― the highest unemployment rate of any industry and the largest increase, up from 6.1 percent a year ago," Simonson noted. "The industry accounted for nearly half of the million-plus jobs lost throughout the economy in the past 12 months.”

Many of the losses were in heavy and civil engineering construction, Simonson observed, and said those workers could quickly be re-employed if the states had enough money to award contracts for projects they have ready to go. “Contrary to some assertions, this money would quickly make its way into the economy, supporting equipment and materials manufacturing and services jobs, as well as construction.” State officials say they have thousands of projects ready to award without long delays.

"AGC urges Congress to act this month on a stimulus package that includes funding for highway, bridge and other infrastructure work," Simonson stated. "In addition, the new Administration and Congress should give a high priority to renewing long-term highway, airport, water and wastewater funding bills next year.”

AGC states that falling materials costs and a strong pool of skilled contractors ready to bid for work will get the projects up and running.

For more economic construction news, visit the AGC Web site at www.agc.org.