Today's U.S. "Employment Situation Report" that unemployment is at 9.8 percent is very bad news for the overall economy. But the situation in the construction equipment industry, which includes manufacturing, distribution and repair stations, is much worse. The industry is in a depression, not a recession. It has lost 37 percent of its jobs since the economic downturn began. To put this in context, the job losses in other sectors are indeed terrible - auto manufacturing and dealership jobs are down 16 percent and the finance and insurance industries are down by 6 percent - but a 37-percent job loss is devastating.
The leaders in Washington had hoped for improvement in the unemployment rate, but the trend lines are still going up, and our industry is facing disaster. Congressional action to fully fund the highway bill could reverse this trend in the construction equipment industry.
Earlier this week, AEM released a study conducted by IHS/Global Insight that dramatically captured the staggering job loss in the construction equipment sector. The study found that among the direct and indirect effects of the recession on the construction equipment industry - 8 percent of all jobs lost during the recession, or two out of every 25 - can be traced to this sector.
AEM initiated a campaign on Tuesday to draw national and Congressional attention to the disaster facing our industry. Start Us Up USA has one purpose, to plead with Congress to fully fund and pass a multi-year highway bill in the next few weeks as the 30-day extension of the current highway bill expires. Without the certainty of this funding, businesses cannot plan long-term construction projects after October 30, 2009, and our industry will continue to wither.
Time is running out for the men and women of the construction equipment sector. While the recession recedes for some, our sector is being left behind, and companies will surely be forced to consider slashing more good-paying U.S. manufacturing, distribution and repair jobs.
By fully funding the federal transportation bill, the President and Congress have an opportunity to create and sustain jobs and spur strong economic growth for decades to come. It is time for Congress to stop the delaying, take action, and pass a fully-funded transportation bill.