Construction backlog in November reached its highest level since the second quarter of 2019, as contractors with under $30 million in revenue landed new jobs faster than expected, according to Associated Builders and Contractors.
A Longtime Labor Crunch
The construction industry was already facing a workforce crunch before 2020 due to an aging workforce, more young people being steered toward college and workers who left the industry during the 2008 recession and never returned, says Zachary Fritz, an economist with Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).
Many of you heard the news that I departed ABC Pennsylvania in November. The decision was not an easy one. I have a long history with ABC. My career began in Washington, D.C., where I served on legislative staff for the late Congressmen George W. Gekas (R-PA-17) and former Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA-18). During my time in our nation’s capital, which lasted nearly a decade, I monitored and staffed issues important to ABC. It was there that I learned about the association’s mission and drive for free enterprise. When I moved back to Pennsylvania, I served as advocacy director for a local chamber, where I continued the partnership with ABC – and eventually met and married my wife, Julina (Peterson), who was the Communication Director for ABC Keystone. Julina started her career with ABC as an intern in 2004 and served on the Keystone team until 2017. I have fond memories of attending so many inaugurals with Julina as her date and later as her husband!
As you know, ABC Pennsylvania is comprised of four regional chapters with nearly 1,400 member companies who collectively employ over 65,000 Pennsylvanians. Our advocacy efforts do not come without the commitment and participation of our members – and we have a lot to be proud of in 2022.
Did you vote or are you prepared to vote? The campaigns are entering the final stretch and the finish line is two short weeks away. Mail-in voting is currently underway, and as expected, is already knee-deep in political and legal battles. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling saying that undated mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania should not be counted by county board of elections. Despite the federal ruling, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State issued a statement advising counties to continue to follow the agency’s guidance, which instructs counties to count undated ballots. Of course, the statement has initiated lawsuit filings and several counties have announced that they will separate dated and undated ballots barring a court decision.
If you follow politics, you might have heard the phrase, “October surprise.” This is political terminology to refer to a major news event – perhaps scandalous to some degree – that is aimed to influence the outcome of an election. With the popularity of early voting and mail-in voting, it will be interesting to see how much these stories will matter. It will also be interesting to see if strategists will re-evaluate the timing of how and when to “release” this kind of information. Who knows, maybe October surprises will turn into August surprises.
You may have heard the term “August recess” from our advocacy team, but it’s not like the recess you remember from grade school. It is a time when legislative sessions are on break in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. to allow lawmakers to travel their districts. In an election year, politicians maximize this time to meet with constituents and talk about issues important to them. ABC will use this time to meet with as many of our elected officials as possible to let them know what is impacting your business.
The summer is upon us. The legislature completed their work on a $44 billion state budget, along with accompanying “code bills” that specify how taxpayer dollars are to be allocated. The budget represents an 11 percent increase over last year, largely due to unspent federal stimulus and increases in public education spending. The budget deposited $2.1 billion into the Rainy Day Fund, bringing the total to about $5 billion. Lawmakers believe the fund will help shield Pennsylvanians from tax increases if the economy slips into a recession and/or revenues decrease.
The last week of June is traditionally the “mad dash” to complete the state budget and hit the campaign trail. This year has been no different. While both sides were optimistic a budget deal could be made early and without much “heartburn,” those hopes were dampened by disagreements on various policy issues and funding certain state-related universities.
Van Halen said in 1995, we are, “livin’ with the aftershock.” The Pennsylvania primary election has come and gone. As with any election, there were some surprising and some not-so surprising results.
The Pennsylvania primary election is finally over. After the state budget is completed in June – which is expected to pass with little fanfare – we will enter the summer slog to election day. When the legislature returns in September, session days will be light and campaign activities will be heavy.
The primary election is just a few weeks away! Because there is a wide field of candidates, and as a service to our members, we posted an “Election Information Guide,” so you know exactly who is running, where to find information on how and where to vote, and information on the new congressional map.