AGC analysis: Construction employment rose in majority of states

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AGC analysis: Construction employment rose in majority of states

Construction employment increased in 35 states between December 2022 and December 2023, according to a new analysis of federal employment data from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). AGC officials said the employment gains reflected strong demand for construction but noted that tight labor markets are preventing firms from adding even more workers.

“Construction demand remains strong in many parts of the country, especially for infrastructure, manufacturing and data center projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s Chief Executive Officer. “But a paucity of qualified workers is holding back further employment gains and impacting project schedules and budgets.”

Texas added the most jobs — 32,800 — for a 4.2% increase. South Dakota had the largest percentage increase with 20.8%, which equated to 5,200 more jobs.

AGC officials are urging members of Congress to boost funding for construction-specific education programs this year as they work to renew both the Perkins Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

“The best way to address the industry’s workforce shortages in the long run is by investing in construction training and education programs,” said Sandherr. “It is time to stop urging every student to accumulate college debt when many could be making good money, debt-free, by starting careers in construction.”

New labor rule could change independent contractor definition

Thanks to a new U.S. Department of Labor rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), some independent contractors may now be classified as employees instead. When distinguishing between the two, contractors need to determine whether the person is economically dependent on the employer for work or is in business for themselves.

The rule adopts a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis and identifies six non-exhaustive factors relevant to the question, according to an article from law firm Ice Miller. The factors are opportunity for profit or loss depending on managerial skill; investments by the worker and the potential employer; degree of permanence of the work relationship; nature and degree of control; the extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the potential employer’s business; and skills and initiative. Additional factors may be relevant, so employers should consult legal counsel as misclassification could lead to significant liability.

SBA increases limits to Surety Bond Guarantee Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced that it is increasing the statutory contract limits for the Surety Bond Guarantee Program. SBA will now guarantee bid, performance, payment and ancillary bonds up to $9 million for all projects and up to $14 million on federal contracts — up from $6.5 million and $10 million, respectively.

SBA expects the change to increase revenue opportunities through contracting for small businesses, supporting job creation and economic growth.

OSHA launches Hazard Huddle Challenge

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a challenge aimed at boosting worker participation in implementing hazard controls and job hazard analyses. Part of the annual Safe + Sound campaign (Safe + Sound Week is August 12-18, 2024) promoted by OSHA and other safety organizations, the Hazard Huddle Challenge encourages managers to have discussions with workers about workplace safety hazards.

To ensure an expanded range of expertise, OSHA recommends that you assemble workers with “varied experience levels and roles.” OSHA calls on managers to listen and take notes during these meetings to determine where to conduct job hazard analyses. Managers preparing to implement hazard controls are reminded to consult workers whose jobs may be affected before doing so.

The agency asks participants to highlight their actions and progress on social media using the hashtag #SafeAndSoundAtWork. You can download a virtual challenge coin as well at

USDOT announces grant to reconnect communities

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced $3.33 billion in grant awards for 132 projects through the Reconnecting Communities Pilot and Neighborhood Access and Equity discretionary grant programs. The funding is aimed at reconnecting communities that were cut off by transportation infrastructure decades ago, leaving entire neighborhoods without direct access to opportunity, like schools, jobs, medical offices and places of worship.