A study finds the construction industry in Iowa is among the hardest hit in the nation during this economic downturn. The report finds two in every 25 jobs lost nationwide are being lost in the construction industry. Toby Mack, president and CEO of the Associated Equipment Distributors, says the construction industry is in a depression, not a recession, and every state is being impacted, especially Iowa.
Mack says research shows Iowa has about 28,000 jobs that are “connected, depended on or directly involved in contruction equipment, manufacturing and distribution.” He calls it “a very, very substantial piece of economic activity.” He says the study found Iowa’s lost more than 10,400 construction jobs since 2006.
The study found Iowa had the 4th-highest percentage of job losses in the construction equipment industry and was 10th among states in most output lost. Mack says the industry nationwide has shed 37% of its workforce during the downturn, which is more jobs lost than either the automobile or finance industries.
Mack’s organization is urging federal lawmakers to pass a new highway bill, as the old five-year plan recently expired. “Congress has not yet acted to replace the current program with a new program and we’re advocating strenuously for Congress to take immediate action,” Mack says. “There are bills that have been worked on but they haven’t been fully introduced yet.”
While the legislation is zeroed in on transportation and the building of roads and bridges, he acknowledges the home construction industry is also badly sagging. “We’re urging Congress to do things like extend the First Time Homebuyer tax credit but our real focus right now is on the highway program because that drives a tremendous amount of activity in our industry,” Mack says. “That’s where the opportunity is immediately available to create some more economic activity in our sector.”
While Congress is tied up tackling issues like health care reform, Mack says the nation’s roads and bridges are crumbling — and crowded. “We do have hope and we think it’s vital that it happen soon,” Mack says. “We know Congress is busy with other things but we think this is so important to the country. This nation is losing its competitiveness and productivity advantage because of congestion and restricted capacity on the surface transportation system.”
He says this issue isn’t just for the benefit of the construction industry, but for the economy and the country as a whole. The study was conducted by the analysis firm, IHS Global Insight. It says the states suffering the greatest losses are: California, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, with Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio close behind. For more information, see the website: www.StartUsUpUSA.com