Yes, some stimulus money is flowing, but…

Marcia Doyle

Reporters listening to a teleconference put on by the Associated General Contractor of America today might be tempted to think all is well in contracting. During the teleconference several contractors testified what the stimulus money has meant to their own firms. For example, Christian Zimmerman, president of Pike Industries in Walpole, New Hamphire, says his paving firm has just been awarded its 11th and 12th stimulus-funded jobs. John McKaskie, president, Swank Associated Companies, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, says a just-completed bridge repair job allowed them to return 10 seasonal employees to work a month early. And Jim Hayne, president, General Constructors, Bettendorf, Iowa, says he’s been able to put at least 31 more people to work because of the firm’s acquisition of two stimulus jobs.

But this is only one side of the picture, folks. Also on the teleconference was Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, who had some grim numbers to share. Construction unemployment is now at 19.2 percent, with an additional 59,000 construction workers losing their jobs in May. In total, 990,000 construction jobs have been lost in the past year.

Simonson is conducting an informal survey among his members, asking them, “Has the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act led to any new orders, contracts, hiring or other changes in your organization?” As of mid-May, with 66 responses in, 80 percent of his respondents said no. I just hope the reporters dig a little deeper than the feel-good stories they heard today.