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Florida, Michigan policies merit construction stakeholder attention

The Sunshine State topped the Associated Builders & Contractors 2018 Merit Shop Scorecard, vaulting from ninth position the prior year on the strength of its free enterprise and open-competition approach to the construction sector, increased career and technical education opportunities, and job growth rates. Michigan saw the biggest year-over-year improvement, rocketing from 24th to seventh after the repeal of its prevailing wage law, which will result in greater competition and lower costs for construction projects.

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Base tabs from the main Overall Ranking page (top) score states on (from left) Project Labor Agreement Mandates, Prevailing Wage, Right to Work, Public-Private Partnerships, Workforce Development, Career & Technical Education, and Job Growth Rate.

The annual ranking of states and District of Columbia is based on policies or programs that encourage such criteria and ensure that construction contracts are awarded solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation. “States like Florida and Michigan have built an environment that allows merit shop construction contractors to thrive,” says ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “Prioritizing policies that support small business owners, the American worker and the overall construction sector spurs economic growth, which directly leads to more projects and therefore more construction jobs across the country.”

Comparatively, California tumbled from 38th in 2017 to 50th on the 2018 Merit Shop Scorecard due to a decreased focus on workforce development and careers in technical education, which remains a priority for ABC members and the overall construction sector. California was trailed only by Illinois, which was ranked last for the second year in a row with an F rating in project labor agreements, prevailing wage, Right to Work and workforce development incentives.

“Much of the movement up and down in the rankings was due in part to the level of state policymaker support for workforce development and technical education,” notes Brubeck. “With an estimated 500,000 open construction positions in the United States, it is essential that states prioritize workforce policies that recruit, educate and benefit the American worker and fill the skills gap.”

Entering its fifth year, Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard rates state laws, programs, policies and statistics to highlight those that have created the conditions for growth and identify areas where strategic improvements are needed. Criteria and definitions are posted at www.meritshopscorecard.org.