Rally Draws Attention to Depressed Construction Industry

While recession abates for some sectors of the U.S. economy, the construction equipment industry remains stalled in a depression. Two out of every 25 jobs—8 percent—can be traced to the ailing industry, according to a new study released this week.

The research, conducted by IHS Global Insight, was released one day prior to the expiration of federal transportation funding. Congress has yet to pass a new multi-year reauthorization bill, and many experts consider that legislation to be the best opportunity for lawmakers to help stimulate the slumping construction sector this year and improve traffic. To highlight the report’s findings and rally support for government action, construction equipment workers and business leaders this week launched the Start Us Up USA! campaign. Led by the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Start Us Up USA! aims to secure passage of adequately funded transportation legislation before the spring construction season begins in early 2010.

Start Us Up USA! kicked off Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nev., with a caravan of idle equipment parading down Las Vegas Boulevard. Besides Las Vegas, equipment industry workers and leaders will be organizing similar grassroots events across the country. The Start Us Up USA! campaign will culminate in Washington, D.C., on October 28 with a rally on Capitol Hill, and organizers expect to target Chicago, Ill., Louisville, Ky., and potentially other cities for idle equipment caravans along the way.

The campaign leaders also unveiled a new website, www.StartUsUpUSA.com, where visitors can find the latest information, share stories on how the construction equipment depression has affected them, post photos and videos, and learn how they can help.

“A safer, less congested transportation network is critical for America’s future economic prosperity,” concluded AEM and AED. “Just as importantly, investing in these needed infrastructure improvements will spur a recovery in the struggling construction and manufacturing sectors while creating millions of good-paying jobs. Unnecessary delay in passing a transportation bill will prolong this depression for the men and women working in our industry— not to mention force Americans to wait for safer roads and increased transit options.”