'Fiscal cliff' to kill 66,500 construction jobs, $2 billion in business

By |
Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

The coming 'fiscal cliff' of economic calamity if President Obama and Congress can't agree on spending cuts and taxes by January will clobber the already ailing construction industry, according to the nation's leading architectural group.

In addition to robbing 66,500 building jobs and $2 billion, the impact of sequestration may end up costing taxpayers even more in delayed repairs that will ultimately be needed to fix America's crumbling infrastructure and boost overseas embassy security, said the American Institute of Architects.

While most of the construction jobs hit would be in defense construction, repairs and improvements to House and Senate buildings, the U.S. Capitol, the Kennedy Center and the new Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial worth a total of $49 million would be killed or stalled, said AIA.

And while the administration is dealing with lacking security at American embassies, the group said embassy security construction would be whacked $129 million.

Only the work at the White House would be largely protected. According to their report based on figures from the president's Office of Management and Budget, $100,000 of a $1 million repair project would be cut in the sequester.

The sequester automatically slashes spending if the president and Congress don't come up with a budget deal. Economic forecasters predict it could result in another recession.

"Although there is widespread agreement that federal discretionary spending needs to be reduced in order to reduce the budget deficit," said AIA, "sequestration would have a devastating impact on an already-struggling design and construction industry."

The group also blamed politics on the potential jobs killer. "At a time when both political parties are campaigning on being the best at creating jobs, both are risking the jobs of millions of Americans by placing ideology above governing," said AIA President Jeff Potter.

"The design and construction industry is a significant portion of the national economy, and we urge both sides to put aside their political differences and come up with a budget that keeps people working, especially if they are working on a national infrastructure befitting of the 21st century," Potter said.