The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Arlington, Va., recently unveiled a new plan to revive the hardest hit sector of the economy — the nation's construction industry. “Build Now for the Future: A Blueprint for Economic Growth” is designed to reverse predictions that construction activity will continue to shrink through 2010. AGC plans to work with politicians on both sides of the aisle, delivering this message to gain legislative support of increased recovery efforts for the struggling construction industry.

“The problems facing the construction industry aren't just devastating construction workers, they are crippling our broader economy,” says Stephen Sandherr, the association's CEO. “Simply put, you can't fix our economy until you fix the construction industry.”

The mix of new incentives, tax cuts, policy revisions, and infrastructure investments outlined in the plan are needed to stem the dramatic decline in construction activity and employment taking place nationwide, explains Sandherr, adding that a new analysis of federal employment data conducted by the association found construction employment declined in 324 of 337 metropolitan areas between August 2008 and 2009.

Although Reno-Sparks, Nev., which lost 35% of its construction workforce, is the hardest hit area of the country, it's far from alone. Following close behind were: Duluth, Minn., which saw a 33% decline in its construction workforce; Tucson, Ariz. (-31%); Wenatchee, Wash., (-30%); and Redding, Calif. (-28%).

According to Sandherr, communities that avoided declines in construction employment had little to celebrate. Taken together, the 13 areas saw a total increase in construction employment of 2,800 people. During the same time, the industry lost 1 million jobs. Only one community (Columbus, Ind.) saw a double-digit increase of 14%. Anderson, Ind., was next with a 6% increase, followed by Tulsa, Okla.; Longview, Wash.; and Baton Rouge, La. — all with a 3% increase.

Indicating that the recovery plan's primary focus was on stimulating new private-sector construction activity, which accounts for 70% of the market, Sandherr says the plan calls for repealing the alternative minimum tax and increasing/extending a series of tax credits and cuts, including the net operating loss carry back and the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, to boost investments in real estate development.

AGC executives insist that new incentives on global investment in real estate are needed to make it easier for international investors to put Americans back to work. Along those same lines, Sandherr says Congress should restore the President's “Fast Track” trade promotion authority and remove trade barriers to boost demand for new domestic manufacturing and shipping facilities.

For more information about the recovery plan, visit www.agc.org/blueprintforgrowth. Read highlights from the plan at www.agc.org/galleries/advy/Recovery-Plan-Fact-Sheet.pdf, or download the complete report at www.agc.org/galleries/advy/AGC-Build-for-future.pdf.


SHOCKING STAT OF THE MONTH

Percentage increase in the value of new non-residential construction contracts in August. Compared to the same period in 2008, however, this value was down 13% for the first eight months of 2009.
13%
Source: Reed Construction Data