ARLINGTON, VA – The Associated General Contractors of America  (AGC) has released a new national plan detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction.

Officials said the plan was needed to reverse construction employment declines that have taken place in 317 out of 337 metro areas since January 2007.

Called “Building a Stronger Future, A New Blueprint for Economic Growth,” the AGC plan outlines measures to help boost private sector demand for construction, help tackle a growing infrastructure maintenance backlog and reduce needless red tape and regulations.

AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said the association developed the plan to overcome the years-long construction downturn that has left over 2.2 million construction workers unemployed and the industry’s unemployment rate at 21.8 percent, more than twice the national average.

“Our goal is to rebuild a devastated construction market that has left millions jobless, littered cities with incomplete projects and sapped much needed revenue, commerce and customers out of our economy,” Sandherr said. “Considering the scope and impact of construction job losses, the last thing any of us can afford is a repeat of the past four years.”

The plan emphasizes boosting private sector demand, which once accounted for 76 percent of all construction activity, but now accounts for only 60 percent. It calls for approving pending trade agreements to boost demand for manufacturing and shipping facilities, repealing the alternative minimum tax and making permanent the tax cuts that were first put in place in 2001 and 2003. It also identifies new tax credits to encourage retail and restaurant upgrades, improve the efficiency of commercial buildings and help contractors invest in new, more efficient construction equipment. And, Sandherr said, it urges Congress and the Administration to finally end the double taxation of U.S-based businesses that succeed in international markets.

The plan also highlights the need to repeal a costly new mandate set to begin next year that requires governments at all levels to withhold 3 percent of the cost of virtually all major construction projects from contractors. “For an industry where most firms are lucky to make 3 percent in profit on a project, this new mandate will either put a lot of people out of work or needlessly inflate the cost of public construction,” Sandherr cautioned.

Posted by Karen Koenig

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