At Chicago’s Soldier Field Today (Home of the Chicago Bears football team) local business leaders, laborers and construction workers rallied in a caravan of construction equipment to urge the federal government to stop job loss and to move quickly on the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU.
A caravan of idle construction equipment including a motor grader, rough terrain forklift and hydraulic scissor lift, fired up their engines and took their message to Chicago-area locals and visitors around the city’s museum campus with banners saying “It’s Time To Start Us Up USA!” and “The recession is a construction equipment depression.”
The rally was part of the Start Us Up USA! effort, a nationwide grassroots campaign of the construction equipment industry and their allies.
“The construction equipment industry is in a deep depression and we have lost 33,000 jobs in Illinois and 37percent of our workforce nationwide the past few years,” said Toby Mack, president and CEO of Oak Brook, Ill.-based Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), at the rally.
Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), also noted at the event, “More jobs are at stake in Chicagoland, throughout Illinois and across the country as time is running out for the men and women of the construction and equipment industries without long-term federal transportation investment.”
AEM and AED are co-leading the Start Us Up USA! campaign.
Illinois is among the ten hardest hit states in the nation, according to new research released by IHS Global Insight in September. While the recession abates for some sectors of the U.S. economy, the construction equipment industry remains stalled, according to a written statement from AED.
Since 2006, the state of Illinois has lost nearly $9.5 billion worth of economic output from the construction industry. The research also foun the following
· Job losses in this sector are significantly worse than other industries – like auto and finance – that have received government bailouts.
· Two out of every 25 jobs lost during the current recession (or 8 percent) can be traced to this downturn in the construction equipment industry.
· The main culprit is a more than 50 percent drop in construction equipment spending since its peak in 2006, which coincides with declining infrastructure investment this decade.
Diane Benck, vice president of general operations for West Side Tractor Sales Co. in Naperville, Ill., attests to the challenges the industry is facing.
“Industry-wide sales have decreased 50 percent since its peak in 2006,” Benck noted. “This is the first time we’ve seen conditions this poor and it has been difficult to watch the toll this recession has taken on our employees.”
Today’s rally is the second grassroots event that equipment industry workers and leaders have organized across the country.
The campaign moves next to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 28th with a rally near Capitol Hill.