With unemployment stubbornly high, interest seems to be building in Congress for measures aimed at producing more jobs. Proposals in the mix may include extending American Recovery and Reinvestment Act tax and benefit provisions that are to expire soon. There also is a rumor that additional highway spending is under consideration.
Worries about the nation’s jobless rate are driving the discussion, observers agree. The national unemployment rate edged up in September to 9.8%, from 9.7% in August. Construction’s rate remained much worse, climbing to 17.1%, from 16.5%. “The administration is very concerned about the jobs numbers,” says Jay Hansen, National Asphalt Pavement Association vice president for government affairs.