The total number of highway and bridge construction workers nationwide fell by 2.4 percent in May 2008 compared to the same month last year, according to a new report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
ARTBA’s analysis indicates 357,400 workers were employed in highway and bridge work in May 2008—5,300 fewer than the year before.
ARTBA’s "Transportation Construction Industry Employment Report" also noted declines in all categories of transportation construction beyond highway and bridge projects. The total number of workers in the "stone mining and quarrying" category declined 4.7 percent, "construction sand and gravel" worker levels dropped about one percent, and "ready-mix concrete" employment totals declined four percent.
The "construction machinery" category experienced positive job growth, with total worker numbers climbing seven percent over the May 2007 level, according to ARTBA.
ARTBA Economist and Vice President of Policy Alison Premo Black said transportation construction industry employment continues to reflect larger market trends, "especially the impact of higher material prices."
"The value of pavement work on highways and streets through May 2008 is about the same as the first five months of 2008, but the cost of doing business and procuring materials has increased sharply. These factors directly impact hiring decisions," she added.
Black also said, "We are beginning to see employment decreases in industries that supply goods for highway construction, including stone mining and quarrying and ready-mix concrete. However, overall decreases in highway and street construction employment have been modest compared to other construction sectors."
"During the same time period residential construction employment fell 10.9 percent and total construction industry employment fell 5.4 percent," Black said. She also noted the importance of reviewing trends following the summer peak-work season to fully assess the current state of the transportation construction industry market.