Statement By AEM President Dennis Slater On “Jobs Report”

As announced recently, the unemployment rate may have officially dipped just below 10 percent, but for many industries that is little consolation.

Unemployment in the construction equipment industry is more than double the national average, but we can recapture these jobs with the right legislation. What’s the solution?

Washington needs to focus on legislation for a multi-year, fully-funded transportation infrastructure program that would boost employment in the construction industry, including equipment manufacturers and dealers who sell the machinery and construction contractors who buy and use the machinery.

The industry is not asking for the bailouts given to the auto industry or the financial services sector, but it is asking Congress to make the “highway bill” reauthorization a priority.

Unfortunately, Congress has “kicked the issue down the road” by passing two short-term extensions since the last bill expired in September 2009.  The latest two-month extension expires on February 28, 2010, and it appears that the most likely Congressional action will be another extension, a move that does not create the market certainty to promote job growth or meaningful infrastructure improvement.

An information campaign called Start Us Up USA! has been underway since last fall and is being coordinated by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED),the nation’s two leading construction equipment industry trade groups.  The campaign is based on facts provided by IHS Global Insight.  Since 2006 the U.S. equipment industry has lost 37 percent of its workforce and 40 percent of its economic output.

The need for jobs is serious. Although last year’s stimulus money was helpful, it hasn’t been enough.  If Washington wants to put people to work – now, the answer is to pass transportation infrastructure legislation – now.

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