(Washington, D.C.)—Employment in highway and bridge construction fell by 3.6 percent in April 2008 compared to the same month one year ago, according to a monthly economic analysis released June 9 by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
Data for the month of April, the latest month available, indicate 318,100 workers were employed by highway and bridge contractors—down 7,100 from April 2007 levels.
The ARTBA "Transportation Construction Industry Employment" report noted several positive developments. Employment in the construction machinery segment grew 5.6 percent in the same period. The average April hourly wage of workers in the transportation construction segment continues to rank above non-transportation construction jobs.
The hourly wage for transportation construction workers climbed from $20.42 in April 2007 to $21.64 in April 2008. Average weekly earnings rose seven percent from $833.14 to $891.57 in the same period.
An ARTBA economist said several broad factors continue to affect the contracting climate. During the first quarter of 2008, contract awards were down for highway, bridge and airport projects, despite a marked increase in contracts for subway and light rail projects. Construction material costs have skyrocketed 55 percent since 2003.
"The decrease in employment reflects overall market trends," said Alison Black, an ARTBA vice president of policy and economist. "Although the nominal value of highway and bridge construction work was up three percent in April 2008 compared to April 2007, the real value has been adversely impacted by higher material prices. These are the factors that drive employment."