Associated Builders and Contractors released its 2020 Merit Shop Scorecard, an annual ranking based on state policies and programs that encourage workforce development, strengthen career and technical education, grow careers in construction and promote open competition for taxpayer-funded construction projects.
Arizona topped the rankings for the first time this year based on the state’s promotion of free enterprise and investment in tomorrow’s construction workforce, a top priority for ABC. Georgia followed Arizona in second place this year, up from fifth in 2019. Florida, a year-to-year high performer, remained in the top five after two years in the top rank in 2018 and 2019.
“A foundational pillar of ABC is building the next generation of craft professionals, and the top states in this year’s rankings lead the country in workforce development policies,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC’s vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “The merit shop contractor can flourish in free enterprise environments created in states like Arizona and Florida, which has positive ripple effects on a state’s overall economic growth.”
Conversely, Virginia fell the most in the rankings, dropping more than 15 spots from 15th in 2019 to 31st this year. In 2020, Virginia’s new legislative majority instituted a statewide prevailing wage and repealed the Fair and Open Competition Act, which ensured the state’s construction workforce and qualified businesses could compete on a level playing field for public works projects without the threat of government-mandated project labor agreements. The District of Columbia fell from 46th to last place this year due to a poor record in workforce development outcomes and the continued implementation of anti-free enterprise policies. Alaska, California, Illinois and Washington rounded out the bottom tier of states, each receiving F ratings in project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right-to-work policies for the sixth year in a row.
“Nonresidential construction employment is down almost 6% from a year-ago,” said Brubeck. “Equipping the construction workforce with the tools to succeed, such as policies that encourage free enterprise and workforce development, will be vital as our economy recovers from this global health crisis.”
Now in its sixth year, Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard rates state laws, programs, policies and statistics in seven categories: project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right-to-work laws, public-private partnerships; workforce development, career and technical education; and job growth rate.
Criteria are available on meritshopscorecard.org.