Construction Association Urges Trump to Resolve Trade Disputes

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The Associated General Contractors of America recently released a statement urging the Trump administration to end trade disputes after the release of concerning economic reports regarding the construction industry at large.

“The construction industry is still adding workers at a faster clip than the overall economy but growth has slowed as private nonresidential and multifamily construction spending shrinks,” said the AGC’s chief economist Ken Simonson. “At the same time, public investment and a recent pickup in single-family homebuilding have helped employment to grow.”

Single-family homebuilding has seen an uptick in recent months and construction employment has increased steadily year-over-year, growing 2.0 percent from October 2018 to October 2019. But there are some warning signs that the economy is slowing. Overall spending in the construction industry was down 2.0 percent year-over-year in September, and while the 2.0 percent job growth mentioned above is steady, it’s also the slowest rate in seven years.

The AGC believes that the slowing pace of the construction industry is at least partially related to trade disputes between the United States, the European Union, China, and other countries. Their position is that imposed and threatened tariffs have led to increased prices and a general uncertainty about the economy that has in turn decreased demand for construction projects.

“Resolving trade disputes and providing businesses with greater certainty about trade and tariff levels will help accelerate demand for new construction projects,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “The best way to make sure our economy continues to expand is to quickly resolve a series of trade disputes that have contributed to business uncertainty and likely held back many new development and construction projects.”

Just in the past year the AGC has been both supportive and critical of the current administration. Earlier this year the AGC shared concern regarding the current administration’s plans for increasing apprenticeships in the country, which seemed to mostly ignore the construction industry. But they have also voiced support for the administration’s repealing of the 2015 Clean Water Act, praising the decision for providing clarity to a complicated rule.