Associated General Contractors

Contractors Decry Amended Davis-Bacon Rule



The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s final rule, issued August 8th, revamps its Davis-Bacon Act procedures for determining prevailing wage levels – in favor of workers – on federally funded construction projects.

Expected to go into effect in approximately 60 days, the rule is being hailed by construction unions yet criticized by contractors and their associations. The revised rule reverts to pre-1983 methodology for determining whether a wage rate is prevailing, also referred to as the “30 percent rule.” Under the 30 percent rule, contractors must use the wage rate paid to a majority of the workers; if no such majority rate exists, they must use the wage paid to the largest number of workers on the job, as long as it was paid to at least 30 percent of that workforce.

The wage rule solidifies as $1.2 trillion in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding is propelling the start of a deluge of federal construction projects as well as projects that are stemming from the Chips and Science and Inflation Reduction Acts.

AGC of America CEO Stephen Sandherr says the more than 800-page ruling lowers the threshold of reporting required from the Dept. of Labor.

“This final rule appears to make it easier on the Dept. of Labor itself to set prevailing wages with less of the data it already collects, or lack thereof,” says Sandherr.

The Associated Builders and Contractors says this regulatory notice will annually affect an estimated $217 billion in federal and federally assisted construction spending for about 1.2 million construction workers.

“Unfortunately, the DOL’s final rule disregards the feedback of ABC contractors, construction industry stakeholders and thousands of small businesses urging the withdrawal of this unnecessary, costly and burdensome regulation,” says ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “Instead, the DOL is moving forward with dramatic changes to prevailing wage regulations, reversing much-needed reforms that were established nearly 40 years ago, and unlawfully increasing the regulatory burden on small businesses, new industries and public works projects.”

For more information about the ruling, see

Construction Industry Investment Declines, Hiring Slows Due to Talent Scarcity


For 10 of the past 12 calendar quarters, investment in nonresidential construction has declined.

According to an analysis released in early November by the Associated Builders and Contractors, investment in nonresidential structures fell at an annual rate of 15.3 percent in the third quarter of 2022. ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu says it’s the steepest decline since Q2 2020.

Investment in residential projects nationwide declined by a whopping 26.4 percent over the same time period.

Despite this decrease in investment, contractors building commercial and industrial projects expect their sales to rise over the next six months, according to the ABC’s Construction Confidence Index.

The association’s Construction Backlog Indicator – an index that reflects the amount of nonresidential construction work expected to be performed in the months ahead – shows that U.S. commercial and industrial contractors’ work backlog today averages nine months, 1.4 months longer than a year ago. Contractors attribute increased backlog to a hefty increase in heavy industrial projects, including a 21.5 percent increase in manufacturing-related construction spending.

As far as construction talent is concerned, the Associated General Contractors of America reports that last month the industry added only 1,000 employees nationwide. The industry continues boosting wages for hourly workers as firms battle to locate and hire qualified workers from a still-shrunken labor pool.

Hourly earnings rose from $33.41 in October 2021 to $35.27 in October 2022.

Funding, Risk Allocation Driving P3 Delivery of Mega-Projects


Public-private partnerships, P3s, continue to emerge as the preferred delivery mechanism for multi-year, multi-billion transportation and infrastructure ventures.

Associated General Contractors of America Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives Brian Turmail says ongoing mega-projects such as the $3 billion Fargo-Moorhead Red River Diversion and the $5 billion LaGuardia Airport Terminal B are relying upon P3 project delivery to bring these large-scale, big-dollar ventures to completion.

“Funding is often a big driver for P3s because they allow owners to move forward with a project without having to secure full financing on their own,” said Turmail. “However, P3 projects can be risky because they are often run by internationally based financiers who do not know or understand construction. These financiers produce contracts that are typically very long – hundreds of pages – non-standard and pass all the risks of the project to the construction teams.”

An international slate of project partners is heading both the Fargo-Moorhead Red River Diversion Project and LaGuardia’s new terminal. The former project is represented by the P3 of ACCIONA (the parent company of Spain’s Acciona Energy), Shikun & Binui USA (the domestic subsidiary of the Israeli-based infrastructure and real estate firm) and North American Construction Group, a Canadian heavy construction and mining contractor. LaGuardia’s P3 includes Parisian global investor and asset manager Meridiam, Swedish Skanska Infrastructure Development and Vancouver-based Vantage Airport Group.

P3 projects are also often complex, says Turmail, carrying more risk than smaller-scale efforts. “The quantities involved for these massive projects have very expensive ramifications when the assumptions are off, even by a little,” he said. “They fail sometimes due to overly optimistic revenue projection from parties bidding out the work.”

P3 projects are also risky because of their multi-year development and construction timeframes, Turmail says. Construction of the Red River Diversion Project, for example, involves building a 30-miles diversion channel to divert floodwaters around the metro area during severe floods and will take 10 years to complete. The project is estimated to wrap in 2027. The 1.3 million-square-foot Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport began construction in mid-2016 and will complete later this year.