An estimated 1,400 people working for Pittsburgh area construction firms and their suppliers will lose their jobs because a Pennsylvania Senate-passed transportation funding measure failed in the state house, according to an analysis released today by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Those job losses would be three times higher than the number of construction jobs added in the area during the past year and threaten to reverse recent industry job gains, association officials cautioned.
“Because the House failed to act, Pennsylvania is on track to invest hundreds of millions less per year in its highway system than what Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate approved,” said Richard Barcaskey, the executive director of the Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania, the local highway chapter for the AGC. “The reduction from what could have been invested in transportation statewide will undermine the construction industry’s recovery and hurt the commonwealth’s economy.”
Barcaskey noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will be forced to reduce highway funding by $500 million next year because the state House failed to enact a Senate-passed measure that would have provided $1.9 billion a year for road and bridge repairs. He added that an estimated $98 million of those cuts will occur in the Pittsburgh metro area at a time when the local construction industry has only recently begun adding new jobs.
An analysis conducted by the AGC found that the local highway funding cuts will cost Pittsburgh contractors 1,400 jobs, including 950 on-site construction jobs and another 350 jobs with suppliers of construction equipment, materials and services. Another 1,400 jobs in the broader economy will be lost as unemployed Pittsburgh area construction workers scale back spending on goods and services, Barcaskey said.
Association officials added that statewide highway funding cuts will amount to roughly 7,200 lost jobs for Pennsylvania’s construction contractors and their suppliers, including roughly 4,900 on-site construction jobs and another 2,300 jobs with construction equipment, materials and services suppliers. Another 7,200 jobs will be lost in the broader economy, they added, since those unemployed construction workers will be unable to afford items like new cars, taking their families to dinner or getting new school clothes for their children.
Barcaskey said the transportation cuts were coming amid a “fragile” recovery for construction employment across the state and in Pittsburgh. He said that after years of job losses that cost 3,200 Pittsburgh area construction jobs and 16 percent of Pennsylvania’s construction workforce, employment had begun to rebound. He noted that between July 2012 and July 2013 Pennsylvania added 1,900 new construction jobs and the Pittsburgh area added 400.
“Because of the House’s failure to enact transportation legislation, this may be the last happy Labor Day for thousands of Pennsylvania workers for some time,” Barcaskey said.