AGC: Construction Jobs at Risk Without Stimulus

Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2009--The U.S. construction sector could lose 30 percent of its jobs this year unless Congress quickly approves a stimulus package after President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, the Associated General Contractors of America warned.

A slowdown that began in the U.S. housing sector has spread to nonresidential construction projects, the trade group said in its annual forecast.

"While the last few months have been difficult for the economy, they've been simply devastating for the construction industry," AGC Chief Executive Steve Sandherr said on a conference call with reporters.

More than 75% of its 33,000 member firms report declines in activity, he said.

Two-thirds of nonresidential construction companies expect to lay off some portion of their workforce in the next six to 12 months, the group said.

U.S. construction employment, which peaked at 7.8 million, in 2006, is down by about 780,000 people, or 10 percent, the group said.

Fast passage of a stimulus package would help stem or even reverse job losses, the AGC said.

"With a stimulus, construction companies can get more people to work and more money into the economy in a way that can immediately boosts our economy," Sandherr said. "Without the stimulus, construction companies will cut jobs and slash spending and continue to be among the hardest-hit sectors."

The group cited a survey in which 85 percent of nonresidential construction companies said they would either cancel planned layoffs, or hire new workers, if states embarked on new stimulus-funded infrastructure projects.

Quick passage is key, it added, because cold weather in the northern parts of the United States leave a narrow window for outdoor work.

Obama is seeking approval by mid-February of his plan for tax cuts and public-works spending that could total nearly $800 billion.

Related Topics:Associated General Contractors of America