Arizona leads, California and Illinois lag ABC Merit Shop state ranking

Source: Associated Builders and Contractors, Washington, D.C.

The Associated Builders and Contractors 2020 Merit Shop Scorecard weighs state policies and programs that encourage workforce development, strengthen career and technical education, grow careers in construction, and promote fair and open competition for taxpayer-funded construction projects. Arizona tops the rankings for the first time based on its promotion of free enterprise and investment in tomorrow’s construction workforce; Georgia follows in second place, up from fifth in 2019, while perennial high performer Florida remains in the top five after leading the 2018 and 2019 ranks.

“A foundational pillar of ABC is building the next generation of craft professionals, and the top states in this year’s rankings lead the country in workforce development policies,” says ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “The Merit Shop contractor can flourish in free enterprise environments created in states like Arizona and Florida, which has positive ripple effects on a state’s overall economic growth.”

Conversely, Virginia fell the most in the Merit Shop rankings, dropping from 15th in 2019 to 31st in 2020, when a new legislative majority instituted a statewide prevailing wage and repealed the Fair and Open Competition Act. The latter ensured the state’s construction workforce and qualified businesses could compete on a level playing field for public works projects without the threat of government-mandated project labor agreements. The District of Columbia fell from 46th two years ago to last place in 2020 due to a poor record in workforce development outcomes and continued implementation of anti-free enterprise policies. Alaska, California, Illinois and Washington round out the bottom tier, each receiving F ratings in project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right-to-work policies for the sixth year in a row.

“Nonresidential construction employment is down almost 6 percent from a year-ago,” observes Brubeck. “Equipping the construction workforce with the tools to succeed, such as policies that encourage free enterprise and workforce development, will be vital as our economy recovers from the global health crisis.”

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