Labor Day will be a mixed blessing in U.S. construction this year. Many workers will enjoy the day off, with employment secured by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But others will see the holiday as a reminder of a frustrating job search and economic worry in a battered industry market that billions in federal stimulus may not be able to save.
President Barack Obama’s massive $787-billion stimulus package set an ambitious goal when enacted earlier this year: to jumpstart the ailing economy by creating and saving up to 3 million U.S. jobs. Construction’s share of ARRA funds, about $130 billion, has been slowly making its way into the marketplace, still beset by unclear rules of engagement, huge compliance requirements and overwhelmed contracting processes. One contractor jokes that he is “creating payroll” by having to hire staffers to meet new ARRA reporting requirements