A transportation funding measure, which passed in the Pennsylvania Senate, failed to pass in the state House, costing an estimated 1,400 Pittsburgh-area construction jobs, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The bill would have provided $1.9 billion per year for road and bridge repairs.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will be required to reduce highway funding by $500 million in 2014. An estimated $98 million of those cuts will occur in the Pittsburgh metro area, according to AGC.
“Because the House failed to act, Pennsylvania is on track to invest hundreds of millions less per year in its highway system than what Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate approved,” said Richard Barcaskey, the executive director of the Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania, the local highway chapter for the AGC. “The reduction from what could have been invested in transportation statewide will undermine the construction industry’s recovery and hurt the commonwealth’s economy.”
An analysis conducted by the AGC found that the local highway funding cuts will cost Pittsburgh contractors 1,400 jobs, including 950 on-site construction jobs and another 350 jobs with suppliers of construction equipment, materials and services. Another 1,400 jobs in the broader economy will be lost as unemployed Pittsburgh area construction workers scale back spending on goods and services, Barcaskey said.
AGC officials added that statewide highway funding cuts will amount to roughly 7,200 lost jobs for Pennsylvania’s construction contractors and their suppliers, including roughly 4,900 on-site construction jobs and another 2,300 jobs with construction equipment, materials and services suppliers. Another 7,200 jobs will be lost in the broader economy, they added, since those unemployed construction workers will be unable to afford items like new cars, taking their families to dinner or getting new school clothes for their children.
Barcaskey said the transportation cuts were coming amid a “fragile” recovery for construction employment across the state and in Pittsburgh. He said that after years of job losses that cost 3,200 Pittsburgh area construction jobs and 16 percent of Pennsylvania’s construction workforce, employment had begun to rebound. He noted that between July 2012 and July 2013 Pennsylvania added 1,900 new construction jobs and the Pittsburgh area added 400.