The little-noticed passage by Congress of relief for multi-employer pension plans as well as President Obama’s signature on the bill on June 25 provide much-needed breathing room for these types of union pension funds. The bill, paired with measures related to Medicare benefits, allows the plans to amortize losses sustained in the stock-market downturn of 2008 over 30 years rather than the previous limit of 15 years. By allowing the longer period of amortization, Congress and the President temporarily remove the possibility that multi-employer plan assets will slip further behind their future liabilities and require even more drastic relief measures.
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.