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Stimulus not doing much construction stimulating

By Joe Yovino

Ten months may seem like a century for the beleaguered construction industry as it waits for a jump-start from the U.S government.

But it might take another 10 months or longer for the rebound in construction to take effect if you put stock in an Associated Press report released Monday.

The AP reported the economic stimulus plan — generally designed to breathe life into the economy and the construction industry and, specifically, increase spending on roads and bridges — has had no effect on local unemployment and only barely helped the construction industry.

Analysis from the AP’s report, in a nutshell, is this: Local unemployment rates rose and fell regardless of how much stimulus money Washington poured out for transportation, raising questions about President Barack Obama’s argument that more road money would deal with an “urgent need to accelerate job growth.”

Now Obama wants a second stimulus with $75 billion for more spending on roads and bridges, all with the end gain of lowering unemployment among construction workers. Problem is, if it didn’t work the first time why should it work a second time?

I’m all for getting construction workers back to work. After all, latest figures from the government show one in four construction workers are out of work. But heaping $75 billion on top of the $150 billion marked for infrastructure in the first stimulus package is a little like putting gas in a wrecked car. Sure, you might need it, but it just feels like you’re wasting your money.

And as far as the stimulus goes, it is your money, and your children’s money, and your children’s children’s money, and pretty soon, your children’s children’s children’s money.

So, what’s the $75 billion answer to the question of, “How do we get construction workers back on the job?”

A good start may be free training for unemployed workers and major tax breaks for companies as hiring incentives so, when the jobs come back and houses are being built again and roads are being repaired, companies will benefit by hiring workers. And, in turn, those workers will be competent and willing.

If I had a better answer than that, I would be president.

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