by Andrew Walden
Is rail producing the promised upsurge in construction jobs? For months building trades unions and the management-labor Pacific Resources Partnership have been putting union members to work—as pro-rail protesters. But now that concrete is being poured and a casting facility for overhead spans is ready to be built, the jobs just aren’t there.
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, Hawaii ranks 34th in construction growth, losing 700 construction jobs over the past year and 200 jobs over the past month.
During the 2011 Legislative session, the Abercrombie Administration won passage of a massive GE Tax increase which applied the full 4.5% GE Tax to payments made by general contractors to subcontractors. Opponents ridiculed the proposal as “taxing the tax” since it was clearly aimed at extracting bond money and federal funds spent on capital improvement projects and redirecting them to the State’s operating budget.
But the GE Tax hike applies to private sector work as well as public sector, so even as $5B plus is spent on rail and the Abercrombie administration touts Capital Improvement Projects as a way to stimulate the economy, the jobs just aren’t happening. The money really is flowing to the crony contractors, maybe labor needs to re-think its alliance with capital—and capitol.
Here are the numbers:
State Construction Employment (seasonally adjusted), 4/11-4/12 from Associated General Contractors of America
'11-Apr '12--Feb March April 1-mo % 1-mo Job 12-mo. % Total Job 12-mo. rank of states
28,600 28,300 28,100 27,900 -0.7% -200 -2.4% -700 34th