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Report shows state construction hardest hit because of recession

03.15.10

MARCH 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Report shows state construction hardest hit because of recession

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 2nd- The unemployment rate in the United States dipped below 10 percent last month but workers in the building and construction trades have yet to feel any improvement. According to the Department of Labor the jobless rate among construction workers in the nation actually jumped to nearly 25 percent. Total construction payroll employment has fallen by 2.1 million jobs since 2006, with employment in residential construction shedding 38 percent of those jobs.

According to a report released by the Center for American Progress and the Home Performance Resource Center, construction jobs can be saved through energy efficiency programs. The Center for American Progress is a economic research and educational institute in Washington, DC. The Home Performance Resource Center is a nonprofit organizatrion formed to conduct public policy and market research in support of the home performance industry, also located in Washington, DC.

“With demand for construction jobs at near depression levels, stimulating consumer demand for residential energy efficiency is smart business. It creates high-paying jobs for idled construction workers, boosts sales of American’ made building materials, and saves consumers money. American companies are ready to hire back crews if we can jumpstart demand for projects. Home performance contracting for energy efficiency is one bright spot on the horizon for the building trades today,” said Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress.

The report’s authors, Mr. Hendricks and Matt Golden, call on federal policymakers to launch a national HOME STAR program which includes incentives for homebuyers to invest in the energy efficiency of their homes, which will jumpstart demand for labor. They believe that the United States Congress could quickly act to create jobs with policies to expand investment in commercial and industrial energy efficiency and financing for retrofit jobs.

“The tool belt recession is devastating. There is an urgent need in every state in the union to generate skilled, high-paying, long-term construction and manufacturing jobs to grow our economy. But there is hope. As an employer in the hard-hit state of California, I have seen my efficiency business grow by 70 percent, even as the construction industry has lost over 35 percent of construction jobs,” said Mr. Golden, President of Recurve, a home performance retrofit contractor.

Mr. Golden said the home performance builders’ Efficiency First Industry Association brought together more than 500 constractors from around the United States to educate lawmakers on how they are creating jobs today through energy efficiency.

The authors of the study stated the “tool belt recession” has a deep and far-reaching impact on communities. Many factories are running at only half capacity, while unemployment in manufacturing industries tied to construction is higher than manufacturing as a whole, with unemployment rates often running from 20 percent to 30 percent.

Jobs in the construction sector and related industries are suffering more compared to other parts of the economy.

Data on construction jobs follows:

• The unemployment rate for experienced workers in construction was 24.7 percent in January 2010.
• Total construction payroll employment has dropped by 2.1 million jobs since 2006, with residential construction down by 1.3 million, or 38 percent.
• For 2009, 12.4 percent of all unemployed workers were previously employed in the construction industry.
• There have been 134,000 jobs lost (10 percent) in construction related retail, such as building supply stores and lumber yards, since December 2007, with 186,000 lost (14 percent) since July 2006.

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