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Construction Fatalities Cost the United States $5 Billion Per Year

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. Construction workers face a wide range of hazards when they arrive on the job site each workday, including large equipment, heavy supplies, height hazards, and long hours. It is important that construction workers are well trained and highly skilled in order to limit on-the-job injuries and fatalities.

NEW REPORT: The $5 Billion Cost of Construction Fatalities in the United States: A 50 State Comparison

Over the past four decades, OSHA and its state partners have worked with labor unions, employers, and safety and health advocates to increase workplace safety. Many employers and contractors put their workers through training and safety programs to ensure workers are prepared for job sites. Safety and health programs encourage a proactive approach to finding and fixing job site hazards before they cause injury or illness. Today, workers are less likely to die on-the-job than they were 40 years ago due to workplace safety efforts.

However, there is still room for improvement. A new report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) finds that a total of 4,339 construction workers lost their lives at work from 2011 through 2015. This means that an average of 867.8 construction workers suffered a workplace fatality per year, or about 16 construction workers every week across the nation. Continue reading “Construction Fatalities Cost the United States $5 Billion Per Year”

What Are Road Construction Costs Per Lane Mile in Your State?

States play a significant role in the construction and maintenance of the country’s roadway system. Each state employs its own approach and objectives when planning and constructing highway infrastructure, including addressing obstacles and environments unique to that state.  A recent report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute explores the highway construction costs for each state and more closely examines them throughout the Midwest.

Full Report:  A Comparison of Highway Construction Costs in the Midwest and Nationally

The figure below summarizes each state’s highway construction, right-of-way (ROW) acquisition, and engineering costs per lane mile.  This analysis provides an illustration of how construction costs compare between states; however, as stated above, each state encounters its own unique complications that factor into overall costs.  Therefore, it cannot be exclusively used as a definition of cost effectiveness.  Continue reading “What Are Road Construction Costs Per Lane Mile in Your State?”

“Right-to-Work” Laws in the Midwest Have Reduced Unionization and Lowered Wages

Taken from Illinois Update and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI).


A new study finds that the introduction of “right-to-work” laws has reduced the unionization rate by 2.1 percentage points and lowered worker wages by 2.6% in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Continue reading ““Right-to-Work” Laws in the Midwest Have Reduced Unionization and Lowered Wages”

How the Decline of Unions Has Caused Inequality to Rise in Each Midwest State

A new report finds that union decline has resulted in economic redistribution from workers to owners.

Continue reading “How the Decline of Unions Has Caused Inequality to Rise in Each Midwest State”

The High Cost of Construction Injuries and Fatalities

A new Economic Commentary [PDF] released by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute compares the working conditions of 5 Midwest construction labor markets: Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The report finds that worker fatalities result in high economic burdens for Midwest states, but that Minnesota has the safest construction industry out of the 5 states.

Continue reading “The High Cost of Construction Injuries and Fatalities”

Gas Taxes are Unsustainable for Transportation Infrastructure Needs

Transportation infrastructure is essential for economic growth.  In order to maintain quality transportation infrastructure, sustainable funding is imperative.  An Economic Commentary [PDF] by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute explores the role of the motor fuel tax both nationally and internationally.  The United States currently suffers from insufficient funding due to a broken system. Without changes, more and more roads, bridges, and public transit systems will fall into disrepair.

The primary source of transportation funding in the United States is the motor fuel tax – also known as the gas tax or fuel tax.  The federal gasoline and diesel taxes currently stand at 18.4 cents and 24.4-cents per gallon, respectively.

The revenue collected from federal fuel taxes is deposited into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).  While fuel taxes previously served as the primary source of funding for the HTF, comprising over 80 percent of its funding between 1995 and 2007, they have proven to be an unsustainable revenue source in recent years.  Between 2008 and 2014, the HTF received $65 billion from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund to meet the fund’s obligations, since annual spending for highways and transit began to exceed the revenues generated. Continue reading “Gas Taxes are Unsustainable for Transportation Infrastructure Needs”

How Should Wisconsin Improve Its Road and Bridge Quality?

A new Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) Economic Commentary [PDF] compares the quality of roads and bridges in three Midwest states: Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

The data show that Illinois has the best overall road and bridge quality of the three states. Wisconsin comes in second, while Iowa has the worst road and bridge quality.

Wisconsin’s roads are in need of improvement, and the state must decide which neighbor it wants to be resemble more. Currently, about 21 percent of public, major roads throughout Wisconsin are in poor condition and 14 percent of bridges are in need of repair. Furthermore, a Wisconsin driver in the Madison area loses 36 hours a year in congestion and Wisconsin motorists spend a total of $6 billion in vehicle costs every year due to congestion and traffic crashes. Traffic fatalities increased also by 13 percent from 2014 to 2015. Continue reading “How Should Wisconsin Improve Its Road and Bridge Quality?”

Waukesha County Expected to Lose 600 Jobs Due to Prevailing Wage Changes

A new Economic Commentary by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute details how the repeal of prevailing wage in Wisconsin will negatively affect Waukesha County.

Report [PDF]Weakening Waukesha County: Prevailing Wage Changes Will Hurt the County

In July 2015, Governor Walker signed the 2015-17 State Budget into law, making significant changes to the state’s prevailing wage laws. Prevailing wage is the minimum hourly wage employers must pay construction workers on projects funded by state dollars. Act 55 of the bill repeals the state prevailing wage law for local governmental units and municipalities. Local municipalities – such as villages, towns, cities, school districts, and sewerage districts – are not obligated to pay a minimum hourly wage to construction workers. These changes will take effect on January 1, 2017.  After the change, state agency and state highway public work projects are the only projects in Wisconsin where prevailing wage rates will apply.

This change will have significant impacts on Wisconsin and Waukesha County’s workforce and economy. Analysis from the report finds: Continue reading “Waukesha County Expected to Lose 600 Jobs Due to Prevailing Wage Changes”

Some Opponents of Prevailing Wage Are Really Bad at Math

A new report by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute finds that prevailing wage repeal cannot result in “44 percent savings” in Wisconsin.


Full Report PDF: Prevailing Wage Repeal Cannot Result in “44 Percent Savings:” Evidence from Southwestern Wisconsin

Prevailing wage supports blue-collar workers employed on public construction projects. By preventing government from using its massive purchasing power to undercut local standards, prevailing wage laws ensure that workers are paid a competitive, up-to-date wage and benefits package determined by private actors. Continue reading “Some Opponents of Prevailing Wage Are Really Bad at Math”

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