As State Loses 136,000 Construction Jobs, Contractors Urge California Regulators to Abandon Plans to Force Them to Replace Existing Equipment

ARLINGTON, VA – Every one of California’s 28 largest metropolitan areas saw a decrease in construction employment between October 2008 and October 2009 according to a new analysis of metropolitan area employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.  The association urged state regulators to rethink plans to force contractors to replace existing equipment as shrinking demand for construction wiped out 136,000 construction jobs statewide.

“Collapsing demand for construction services throughout the state is devastating workers and forcing contractors to idle billions of dollars worth of equipment,” said the association’s chief economist Ken Simonson.  “Requiring contractors to spend money to replace idled equipment will force even more construction workers out of a job.”

Simonson noted that Redding had the largest percentage decline in the state with a 30 percent drop in construction employment.  Other California cities with large percentage declines in construction employment included El Centro (29 percent); Santa Cruz-Watsonville (22 percent); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (20 percent); Salinas and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (both with 19 percent).  Simonson added that Los Angeles lost the most construction jobs (16,600). The statewide decrease was 18 percent in the past 12 months and 35 percent since peaking in February 2006.

Association officials again urged the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to reconsider plans to require the state’s construction companies to replace billions of dollars worth of construction equipment as part of their “off-road diesel retrofit” rule.  They noted that the economic downturn has already done more to reduce construction-related diesel emissions than state regulators predicted.  CARB previously estimated 147,000 pieces of construction equipment would be present in the state in 2009, but have only located 103,000 pieces this year, indicating 30 percent of equipment was sold for pennies on the dollar.

“Forcing companies to spend money on unneeded equipment will simply deprive workers of desperately needed jobs,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.  “After all, there’s no difference in emissions between new and old construction equipment when all they’re doing is sitting unused.”

Click here to view the data by state, and here to view the data ranked by percent change.