Republicans and Democrats alike take advantage of a pay-to-play system ingrained in the nation’s Capitol, a new oversight report from OpenTheBooks.com maintains.
“Congress writes their own rules to protect their re-election campaigns,” according to the 36-page report, “The Congressional Favor Factory: Legalizing Pay-To-Play – A Study Of Federal Grants, Campaign Cash, Investments, Employment, Power & Influence.”
The report includes eight case studies of four Republicans and four Democrats.
These members serve on the most powerful committees in Congress, the report states, within “a culture of conflict of interest. The confluence of federal money, campaign cash, private employment, investments, prestigious committee appointments, political power, nepotism, and other conflicts are a fact pattern.”
Republicans analyzed include: Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
Democrats include Connecticut Rep. John B. Larson, Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper, and Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence.
The report found that the members own investment stock in, are employed by, and receive retirement pensions from federal contractors who receive billions of dollars of taxpayer money. The same members sponsor legislation that impacts the contractors whose lobbyists also advocate for or against legislation that helps both the member and the contractor, the report found.
For example, the report highlights Rep. Larson, whose campaign received the most funding from United Technologies Corporation (UTX), a company of which he is a stockholder.
UTX executives, employees, political action committees and affiliated lobbyists donated $377,050 to his campaign. Since 2010, Larson co-sponsored 19 bills for which United Technologies registered lobbying activity. The company received $83.8 million in federal grants (subsidies) and $16.1 billion in federal contracts (2014-2018), according to the report.
In Michigan, the report notes that employees at the University of Michigan (U-M) donated the most to Rep. Dingell over the course of her congressional career. Dingell is a member of the university’s Ford School of Public Policy Committee, involved with fundraising and networking initiatives. She also co-sponsored four bills for which the U-M registered lobbying activity (2014-2018).
In the last five-years, U-M received federal payments of $2.3 billion, of which the vast majority ($2 billion) was in federal grants.
“As I am sure you know, it is not at all uncommon for members of Congress to be strong advocates for and supportive of the major institutions in their congressional districts or in their home states,” Mark Schlissel, University of Michigan president, said in a statement included in the report. “The University of Michigan is a world-class institution of higher education. Both the main campus in Ann Arbor and the UM-Dearborn campus are within Rep. Debbie Dingell’s district.”
“U-M is one of the state’s largest employers – with more than 50,000 employees across the state – and two of the three academic campuses, along with the Michigan Medicine main campus, are located within her district,” Schlissel adds. “Our employees are free to make personal campaign contributions to any elected official they may wish to support.”
Nothing OpenTheBooks uncovered in its oversight report is illegal, it notes. “In fact, it’s all legal. Quite possibly, that is the scandal,” it states. The goal of exposing the pay-for play system is “to hold these politicians accountable,” the report emphasizes.
Information about the federal grant, contract, farm subsidy, and direct payment data was acquired through Freedom of iInformation Act requests from the U.S. federal government and covers four years of records from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2018, including farm subsidy data over a longer period.
OpenTheBooks auditors acquired campaign donation data from OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics, and the Federal Election Commission disclosures through August 7, 2019.
All members audited were given the opportunity to answer questions before the report was published and none chose to go on the record, according to OpenTheBooks.com. All federal contractors were given an opportunity to answer questions before publication and only three chose to go on the record.
The Center Square
Something all married couples need to think about when making their estate plan is Florida's “elective share” rule. This refers to a state law that authorizes the surviving spouse to claim a 30-percent share of a deceased spouse's elective estate–i.e., any property that would normally be disposed of by will or trust.
It is possible, however, for a spouse to waive his or her right to take an elective share by written agreement. For example, if the spouses signed a prenuptial agreement where each spouse waived their future right to claim an elective share in the other spouse's estate, that would be considered legally binding by a Florida court.
Court: Husband's Trust Does Not Override Prenuptial Agreement
In fact, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recently held that a waiver contained in a prenuptial agreement can actually override contrary instructions in a spouse's trust. The case, Wilson v. Wilson, involved a dispute between the wife and son of a deceased Florida man.
When the husband and wife married in 2011, they signed a prenuptial agreement. The agreement contained specific language waiving and relinquishing any “elective share” rights they might have under law in the “property or estate of the other party.” Notwithstanding this language, the agreement also said either spouse could still “elect to make a gift to the other by Will” without invalidating the elective share waiver.
Two years later, in 2013, the husband executed a will and trust as part of his estate plan. The trust directed the successor trustee to “set aside from the property of this trust” to “satisfy the Wife's elective share” under Florida law.
After the husband died in 2017, the wife attempted to claim her elective share, citing the language in the trust. The son, who was now trustee, opposed the election, maintaining the original 2011 waiver remained in force.
The Second District agreed with the son. Affirming an Indian River County judge's earlier ruling, the appeals court said the “language of the prenuptial agreement unambiguously waived the wife's elective share.” The husband's subsequent decision to create a trust “could not modify the prenuptial agreement since it was not signed by both parties as was required by the prenuptial agreement” and Florida law. And even if the husband gave his wife a “testamentary gift,” that would not effect the waiver of the elective share itself.
The critical thing to note here is that when a married couple signs a prenuptial agreement affecting their rights under Florida probate law, any subsequent modification to that agreement must also be in writing and signed by both parties. One spouse cannot unilaterally assume their actions will automatically invalidate a waiver.
If you are thinking about making changes to your own will or trust, it is important to work with an experienced Fort Myers estate planning attorney who can advise you in the proper way to do things. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.
General Motors can afford the comparatively rich offer it made to settle the month-long United Auto Workers strike in part because it has a revamped line of highly profitable trucks and SUVs ready to hit showrooms in a few weeks.
It also gained some much needed production capacity reductions with the closing of three plants, especially its massive Lordstown Assembly Plant in northeast Ohio that eliminates production of 300,000 units a year.
That flexibility came in exchange for a promise over four years to invest $9 billion in U.S. facilities, give two annual raises of 3% each and two 4% bonuses, uncap profit sharing pay and an $11,000 signing bonus to each UAW member.
It's a good enough deal for the UAW to justify its walkout. Strikers will be made whole by the signing bonus, and the union also won important concessions on temporary workers.
Still, it all teeters on a strategy that requires GM to keep churning out vast quantities of money making and less fuel-efficient SUVs and pickup trucks. General Motors expects to sell a lot of these over the next few years because nearly all of its large vehicle models have been redesigned for 2020.
But the automaker could well find its plans stymied by a shift in energy and emissions policies should a progressive Democrat be elected president next fall. Nearly all of the Democratic contenders have pledged a major crackdown on fossil fuels, with some setting aggressive timelines for moving America to a zero-emissions economy.
Among the frontrunners for the nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have all signed on to some version of the Green New Deal, which would basically put the internal combustion engine out of business.
While automakers are slowly moving toward electrification of their fleets, it will be a long time before most SUVs and pickups are fully electric.
Warren presents a particular danger. She says she would "ban fracking everywhere." Fracking is the extraction technology that has allowed the United States to become a major exporter of oil and natural gas, and has kept fuel prices in this country low.
Take away fracking, and the cost of a gallon of gasoline will soar. Detroit has seen before what happens to large vehicle sales when fuel costs rise high enough to change consumer behavior.
The Big Three automakers have virtually eliminated cars and don't have many small vehicle options should extreme fuel prices alter market demand.
If past practice holds, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will have to match the economic package GM presented under the UAW's long tradition of "pattern bargaining."
Doing so will keep all three automakers from closing the hourly labor cost gap with their foreign competitors who build vehicles in the United States. For GM, that was $13 an hour going into the strike, for Ford it was $11 an hour and for FCA $5. This deal likely will make the gap worse. For context, Toyota is recruiting workers for its Georgetown, Kentucky plant with an offer of $18 an hour. That's a little more than half of what GM will be paying UAW members at its Bowling Green, Kentucky, Corvette facility.
Again, that's not such a big deal, as long as the assembly plants can produce SUVs and pickups around the clock.
But should the direction of federal policy shift suddenly toward much tighter fuel efficiency standards and less energy production, the new contracts will put all three companies in a tough spot.
I have to tell you a remarkable personal story, a story that proves the liberal media are, in fact, out to frame and ruin President Donald Trump and his supporters with lies, distortions and misrepresentation; a story that proves the liberal media are vicious, untrustworthy and sometimes just plain evil.
I was in Miami last weekend to speak in front of 1,200 conservatives at a fabulous three-day conference called AmpFest19. Speakers also included Donald Trump Jr., Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Dinesh D'Souza. The event was organized professionally. The speakers were inspiring. The crowd was enthusiastic. And the energy was sky high.
But it turned out the liberal media sent spies into the audience to try to ruin, denigrate and demonize the event, and kill all the joy. Guess who they went after.
Their agenda was to paint conservatives as "violent." First, they went after a fake Trump video supposedly played in a back room of the event that no one ever saw. When that didn't work, they went after me.
Nothing violent about me, right? Wrong. When liberals want to slander you, they can take any sentence out of context to hang you — as long as they leave out the actual details and context.
They do this to President Trump every day.
I gave a speech about how to beat Democrats in 2020. It centered on the fact that liberals and the liberal media are bullies — out to intimidate, ban, censor, persecute, beat us into submission.
I told an inspiring, heartwarming story of my high school past, a story of how I became the real-life "Karate Kid," how I morphed from a nerd, persecuted and brutalized by bullies, to a champion fighter who turned the tables on the bullies.
I started out as a skinny Jewish kid with acne, braces and thick glasses attending one of America's roughest and most violent urban high schools. I was tortured, intimidated, persecuted and beaten — in the bathrooms and lunchrooms, on the playground and after school.
But one summer, I changed my life. I learned how to fight, lifted weights like a maniac, got contact lenses and took off my braces. I came back to school, and when the first three tough guys attacked me, I responded in self-defense and beat them each badly. My classmates cheered. The nerd became the hero. I made the bullies cry.
No one ever bullied me again. From that day forward, I was the protector of the nerds.
The moral of the story is to never let a bully intimidate you. Always fight back and defend yourself. Never allow the media, antifa thugs or punks on social media to intimidate you. Be a pit bull, not a Chihuahua.
I've walked tall, with confidence, ever since. And I haven't been in a fight. Peace through strength. And one more lesson: Bullies are cowards. If you fight back, they will crumble.
Great story, right? I brought the house down.
But a Soros-funded liberal media group wrote a story in which it accused me of "promoting violence." It turned a great All-American story of the nerd defeating bullies into a story of "violence by conservatives." That's disgusting. That's fraud.
But it's instructive. This is what the liberal media and liberal politicians do to Trump every day. They are liars and bullies. They slander, intimidate, misrepresent and persecute. Their chief tool is propaganda.
From this day forward, every time you see a negative story about Trump, remember my story.
Wayne Allyn Root
When you rub your eyes, sneeze or stand up too fast, you might see bright flashes or squiggly lines. These are not figments of your imagination but actual sparks of light inside your eyeballs called biophotons. All cells within the human body let off light or bioluminescence.
You don't see them, of course, except inside your eyes, where the brain is usually able to ignore them.
When you apply pressure to your eyes, more biophotons are created than the brain can process, and the result is visible flashes.
If the Democrat “leaders” would only record what they say and play it back, they would see how really dumb they are.
Look at the House Committees, chaired by completely ignorant Attorneys…Nadler, Schiff, and Swalwell! The American people see people who are “lawmakers”, Congressmen… make incredibly stupid statements; statements that we realize violate our Constitution, and Rule of Law, and these lawyers don’t care. They just want their people running the country and don’t care who it is, as long as they are Democrats.
I believe most Americans do not believe anything these incompetent, ambulance chaser lawyers say, even if they are member of Congress….mistakes!!
The Second Ammendment
I have one question. What defines an “assault weapon”? Size? Number of rounds? WHAT? Beto? What the hell are you babbling about?
Is it multiple round magazines? Then define “too many” and what makes you an expert…because I am a Firearms Expert, and I don’t know the answer to that question!
Is it, “a military type gun”…then define that! Rifle, pistol, revolver, shotgun, machine gun…?
You see…you really can’t, because the second Amendment is our Rule of Law, and IT doesn’t define assault guns. It just specifies that, “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”…period.
When there’s an Amendment that states…“only guns for hunting”…you still have a problem because you can hunt with a 50 cal…and some do!
You see most intelligent people understand what people like the “Beto” have in mind, but he wants to ease (lie) his way up to it because they don’t want to say, complete confiscation of all guns… that’s what the left wants, and don’t let anybody tell you different!
The Most Despicable Congress Ever... Pelosi, Swalwell, Schiff... They are Disgracefull (my opinion)!
We have a Constitution that defines and establishes our laws and separation of powers of the different branches. The red wing, left, commie, pinkos don’t agree with our Constitution and want to do away with it…so they disobey our Rule of Law, the very basics of our Rule of law…like Equal Rights to all, Due Process, Innocent until proven guilty, the right to cross examine witnesses, and on and on.
These are “Lawmakers” who are breaking the law…it’s not the first time…we arrested several (like Jenrette) during my tenure as an Agent!
Some said they would impeach our duly Elected President before they were even sworn in as Congressman. Tell me that isn’t intent to obstruct the President’s ability to carry out the duties of the President! That’s a crime! They have tried with an all Democrat Special Investigation by a Special counsel to find a crime …and they couldn’t after 2 ½ years and $35 million of our tax dollars.
Then we have Lawmakers who have no idea what they’re talking about. I heard Congressman Eric Swalwell, on FOX, telling the people why the Republicans are barred from the closed door Intel committee hearing…because the Dems are afraid of “leaks”…do you believe it? The only Congressmen in there are Dems and the “Leaks”, that are against the President abound!
He goes on to tell how the President confessed to a crime but doesn’t say what crime!? He believes the President’s conversation with the President of Ukraine was a confession to a quid pro quo. I’ve read the transcript of the President’s call. I’ve also taken, testified many times to confessions from subjects, written, signed, and just verbal, and know and understand what a confession involves. When Joe Biden said that “he threatened to withhold 1 billion dollars if the Ukraine President Poroshenko didn’t fire the AG from Ukraine who was investigating Hunter Biden; Ukraine would not get the approved 1 billion”… is a confession of Hobbs Act-Political Corruption, Obstruction of a Criminal Investigation, Title 18 Sec 1951, CRM 2403!
The President should fight back…ban all Democrats from all White House Intel Briefings, all White House meetings, all briefings…because he is afraid they will leak…like they are doing in their closed door Intel hearing.
There are no laws that mandate the Dems have to attend briefings, nothing in the Constitution either…but there are laws and precedent that the President must be given Due Process, allowed cross examination of witnesses, subpoena power, an attorney and on and on…that’s called the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Due Process, Equal Rights…the Constitution …our freaking Rule of Law!
The President’s authority rests in the Constitution…Article 2 makes him the Boss of all Bosses. He can have anyone he chooses, without Swalwell approval, to negotiate, speak to, and represent him and the US anywhere in the world. He determines what is classified and who gets top secret clearances…not Pelosi or Schiff! He can do any deal he wants to protect, preserve, and defend the Country and our Rule of law. He could offer Ukraine an Aircraft carrier to help on an investigation into any US citizen he wants.
It’s the law…Congress should try obeying the laws they make! Starting with the three stooges…stooges… Pelosi, Schiff, Swalwell… oh…oh yes, Nadler…and Schumer…don’t forget Waters…oh, I give up there’s just too many morons, to name them all!
There MUST be a crime of impeachable proportion to charge a sitting President…that’s the Constitution! Impeachment behind closed doors, unilaterally, without a defined actual impeachable offense is NOT in the Constitution. A quid pro quo by a President with a foreign government, to protect America and enforce our Rule of Law, is not now nor will it ever be a CRIME!
The fastest growing cities in the country are in the South and West, according to new data released by the Census Bureau. Cities in the South and West held 14 of the 15 cities with the largest population gains in 2018.
“The South and West currently seem to be attractive places to move,” Adam McCann, financial writer at WalletHub, writes. “As the U.S. Census Bureau reports eight of the 15 cities with the largest population gains in 2018 were located in the South and six were in the West.”
The personal-finance website WalletHub analyzed the findings in its 2019’s Fastest-Growing Cities in America report. The report identifies where the most rapid local economic growth occurred over a period of seven years. It compared 515 cities across 17 key metrics within two key dimensions, “Sociodemographics” and “Jobs & Economy.” Some of the metrics include population growth, education level, unemployment rates, and growth in regional GDP per capita.
The report categorized each city according to population size guidelines. A large city represents more than 300,000 people; a midsize city, 100,000 to 300,000 people, and a small city is comprised of less than 100,000 people.
WalletHub also produced a separate ranking by city size. Of the ten fastest growing cities overall, regardless of population, only Florida and Texas had more than one city make the list.
Lehigh Acres, Florida, recorded the fastest growing population in the U.S. last year. It was followed by Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; Bend, Oregon; Enterprise, Nevada; Frisco, Texas; Fort Myers, Florida; Meridian, Idaho; St. George, Utah; Cape Coral, Florida; and Round Rock, Texas.
Enterprise, Nevada, experienced the highest population growth, at 7.4 percent, having also made the same list last year. Frisco, Texas, recorded the highest job growth of 6.88 percent.
“Accommodating fast growth often requires cities to invest in infrastructure (long-lived assets) or increased municipal services (long-run commitments to municipal operating budgets),” says Russell R. Evans, associate professor of Economics at Oklahoma City University. “It’s a challenge for cities to trust that population and economic growth, so often they wait too long before committing to expanding infrastructure and services. As a result, fast growing cities are often trying to catch up to past growth rather than accommodate current growth.”
For large cities, Austin, Texas, saw the highest growth, followed by Miami, Seattle, Henderson, Nevada, and Denver.
Ten locations recording the slowest population growth were Portsmouth, Virginia, Waterloo, Iowa, Anchorage, Alaska, Albany, Georgia, Springfield, Illinois, Decatur, Illinois, Davenport, Iowa, Erie, Pennsylvania, Canton, Ohio, and Shreveport, Louisiana.
The slowest-growing city, Shreveport, recorded a $1 billion debt last fiscal year, according to the Louisiana State Legislative Auditor’s Office.
Albany, Georgia, experienced the highest population decrease, of 1.59 percent, WalletHub notes.
Five cities in California – Milpitas, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose and Mountain View – recorded the highest population growth according to real GDP per capita of 6.41 percent, according to the report.
Entrepreneurship and employment opportunities are disproportionately better in cities that are growing quickly, Evans adds, especially if the cities “are experiencing technological driven growth.” He also notes that employment growth and wage differentials “extend beyond the primary technology industry and into support and services sectors.”
Lafayette, Louisiana, saw the highest decrease in real GDP per capita, at 5.76 percent, while Peoria, Illinois, recorded the highest jobs decrease of 1.12 percent, according to the report.
Data used to create the ranking came from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the National Venture Capital Association, and Renwood RealtyTrac.
The Center Square
What happens when democracy fails to deliver? What happens when people give up on democracy? What happens when a majority or militant minority decide that the constitutional rights of free speech, free elections, peaceful assembly and petition are inadequate and take to the streets to force democracy to submit to their demands?
Our world may be about to find out.
Chile is the most stable and prosperous country in Latin America.
Yet when its capital, Santiago, recently raised subway fares by 5%, thousands poured into the streets. Rioting, looting, arson followed. The Metro system was utterly trashed. Police were assaulted. People died. The rioting spread to six other cities. Troops were called out.
President Sebastian Pinera repealed the fare hike and declared a national emergency, stating, "Chile is at war against a powerful, implacable enemy who does not respect anything or anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits."
How does a democracy that has spawned within itself a powerful and implacable enemy deal with it?
Last week, tens of thousands of Lebanese of all faiths and political associations rioted in Beirut and Tripoli to demand the overthrow of the regime and the ouster of its president, speaker of parliament and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. All must go, the masses demand.
In Barcelona, Friday, half a million people surged into the streets in protest after the sentencing in Madrid of the secessionists who sought to bring about the independence of Catalonia from Spain in 2017.
In all of China, few enjoy the freedoms of the 7 million in Hong Kong. Yet, for five months, these fortunate and free Chinese, to protest a proposal that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China, stormed into the streets to defy the regime and denounce the conditions under which they live.
These protests have been marked by riots, vandalism, arson and clashes with police. "Hong Kong streets descended into chaos following an unauthorized pro-democracy rally Sunday," writes the Associated Press. Protesters "set up roadblocks and torched businesses, and police responded with tear gas and a water cannon. Protesters tossed firebombs and took their anger out on shops with mainland Chinese ties."
What are the Hong Kong residents denouncing and demanding?
They are protesting both present and future limitations on their freedom. The appearance of American flags in the protests suggests that what they seek is what the agitators behind the
Boston Tea Party and the boys and men at Concord Bridge sought -- independence, liberty and a severing of the ties to the mother country.
Yet, because the Communist regime of Xi Jinping could not survive such an amputation, the liberation of Hong Kong is not in the cards. The end to these months of protest will likely be frustration, futility and failure.
Perhaps it is that realization that explains the vehemence and violence. But the rage is also what kills the support they initially received.
In 1960s America, the first civil rights demonstrations attracted widespread sympathy. But the outburst of urban riots that followed in Harlem, Watts, Newark, Detroit and 100 cities after Martin Luther King's assassination sent millions streaming to the banners of Gov. George Wallace in the campaigns of 1968 and 1972.
When the "yellow vest" protests broke out in 2018 in Paris, over a fuel tax, the demonstrators had the support of millions of Frenchmen.
But that support dissipated when protesters began smashing windows of boutique shops on the Champs-Elysee, assaulting police and desecrating monuments and memorials.
This reversion to violence, ransacking of stores and showering of police with bricks, bottles and debris, is costing the protesters much of the backing they enjoyed. In the trade-off between freedom and order, people will ultimately opt for order.
Yet, one wonders: Why are these outbursts of violent protests and rioting taking place in stable, free and prosperous societies?
Chile is the most stable and wealthy country in South America. Catalonia is the most prosperous part of Spain. Paris is hardly a hellhole of repression. And Hong Kong is the freest city of China.
If the beneficiaries of freedoms and democratic rights come to regard them as insufficient to produce the political, economic and social results they demand, what does that portend for democracy's future?
For, despite the looting, arson and attacks on cops in Hong Kong, Xi Jinping is not going to order his satraps to yield to popular demands for autonomy or independence. Nor is Madrid going to accept the loss of Barcelona and secession of Catalonia. Nor is the conservative Chilean government going to yield to the street rebels and revolutionaries. Nor is Paris going to back down to the "yellow vests."
Yet, one wonders: If the "end of history" and worldwide triumph of democratic capitalism thesis has, as most agree, been disproven, is it possible that the Age of Democracy is itself a passing phase in the history of the West and the world?
Patrick J. Buchanan
The construction industry plays a vital role in the national economy. As of 2019, the total annualized value of construction work in the U.S. was approximately $1.3 trillion, making construction one of the nation’s largest industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 5,962,640 employed construction workers in 2018 (not including self-employed), representing 4.1 percent of total employment in U.S. firms.
Like most other sectors of the economy, construction spending retracts during economic downturns. In particular, the construction industry suffered a major blow during the Great Recession. Employment for construction workers (including the self-employed) dipped from a peak of 9,785,000 in July 2007 to 6,734,000 in April 2012. As of August 2019, the total number of employed and self-employed construction workers was about 8,415,000. An estimated 23 percent of all construction workers are self-employed.
Due to the boom or bust nature of construction, the unemployment rate for construction workers tends to be higher than the overall unemployment rate. In 2018, the construction was 5.1 percent, compared to the overall unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. In 2010, the unemployment rate gap was even larger: 20.6 percent for construction workers and 10.5 percent overall.
Even though employment in the construction industry is still below pre-recession levels, it has grown rapidly in recent years. Between 2015 to 2018, employment in construction occupations grew by 8 percent, higher than the 5 percent average employment growth across all occupations. Furthermore, the BLS predicts that employment growth for construction workers will outpace the national average growth rate for all occupations between 2016 and 2026. In this time frame, construction jobs are expected to grow 11 percent compared to 7.4 percent across all occupations.
Since bottoming out in 2011, construction spending has increased 64 percent. During that time, growth in residential construction outpaced that of nonresidential, a reflection of a stronger real estate market and increased demand for affordable housing. In 2018, 42.2 percent of construction spending was in residential, up from 34.0 percent 10 years earlier. New residential construction spending per construction worker amounts to $45,060 per construction worker per year.
Amid rapid growth, the construction industry provides above average wages but doesn’t require a college degree, making it an attractive option for many workers. Nationwide, the median hourly wage for a construction worker is $22.12, compared to the $18.58 median wage across all occupations. However, certain locations offer better conditions for construction workers than others. At the state level, the highest concentration of construction jobs are in the Southwest and Mountain-Plains regions rather than coastal states. Unemployment rates, hourly wages, construction spending, and cost of living also vary from location to location.
Narrowing down to the city level paints an even more specific picture of how location affects conditions for construction workers. To identify the best metropolitan areas for construction workers, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau to calculate a composite score based on the following metrics:
• Median hourly wage for construction workers
• Employment growth for construction workers
• Construction spending per construction worker
• Cost of living
• Unemployment rate for all workers
Only the 100 most populous metropolitan areas were included in the analysis. Most of the metro areas that scored highest are located in the West, Midwest, or South. None are located in the Northeast. Here are the 10 best cities for construction workers in 2019.
The 10 Best Metros for Construction Workers
10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $26.34
• Employment growth for construction workers: 29.5%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $53,486
• Cost of living: 1.7% above average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 3.9%
• Concentration of construction workers: 14% above average
9. Colorado Springs, CO
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $20.58
• Employment growth for construction workers: 16.7%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $143,236
• Cost of living: -0.4% below average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 3.9%
• Concentration of construction workers: 10% above average
8. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $18.95
• Employment growth for construction workers: 22.5%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $113,675
• Cost of living: -4.7% below average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 2.5%
• Concentration of construction workers: -19% below average
7. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $19.11
• Employment growth for construction workers: 12.2%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $148,713
• Cost of living: -4.8% below average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 3.6%
• Concentration of construction workers: -48% below average
6. Fort Myers-Cape Coral, FL
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $17.68
• Employment growth for construction workers: 50.9%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $87,258
• Cost of living: -3.3% below average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 3.3%
• Concentration of construction workers: 99% above average
5. Boise City, ID
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $18.46
• Employment growth for construction workers: 31.8%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $99,286
• Cost of living: -5.8% below average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 2.6%
• Concentration of construction workers: 39% above average
4. St. Louis, MO-IL
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $29.80
• Employment growth for construction workers: 5.4%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $29,414
• Cost of living: -8.6% below average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 3.6%
• Concentration of construction workers: -4% below average
3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $36.31
• Employment growth for construction workers: 5.5%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $25,197
• Cost of living: 3.4% above average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 4.0%
• Concentration of construction workers: -27% below average
2. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $30.39
• Employment growth for construction workers: 9.0%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $65,813
• Cost of living: 2.2% above average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 3.0%
• Concentration of construction workers: -21% below average
1. Provo-Orem, UT
• Median hourly wage for construction workers: $21.25
• Employment growth for construction workers: 36.3%
• New residential construction spending per worker: $84,690
• Cost of living: -3.1% below average
• Unemployment rate for all workers: 2.7%
• Concentration of construction workers: 98% above average
Median wage and employment data are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey. Employment growth is the percent change in construction worker employment between 2015 and 2018. Unemployment rates (for all workers) are from April 2019.
Construction spending per construction worker is the total valuation of all new privately owned housing units authorized in 2018 divided by the number of construction workers employed in 2018. Construction spending data is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Building Permits Survey.
Cost of living is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities dataset. For the purpose of this analysis, construction workers include all wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments working in Construction and Extraction Occupations.
Only the 100 most populous metropolitan areas were included in the analysis.
Data for self-employed persons are not included in the estimates.
The Center Square
Even before seeing the transcript of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Nancy Pelosi threw the door wide open to the impeachment of Donald Trump by the Democratic House.
Though the transcript did not remotely justify the advanced billing of a "quid pro quo," Pelosi set in motion a process that is already producing a sea change in the politics of 2020.
The great Beltway battle for the balance of this year, and perhaps next, will be over whether the Democrats can effect a coup against a president many of them have never recognized as legitimate and have sought to bring down since before he took the oath of office.
Pelosi on Tuesday started this rock rolling down the hill.
She has made impeachment, which did not even come up in the last Democratic debate, the issue of 2020. She has foreclosed bipartisan compromise on gun control, the cost of prescription drugs and infrastructure. She has just put her own and her party's fate and future on the line.
With Pelosi's assent that she is now open to impeachment, she turned what was becoming a cold case into a blazing issue. If the Democrats march up impeachment hill, fail and fall back, or if they vote impeachment only to see the Senate exonerate the president, that will be the climactic moment of Pelosi's career. She is betting the future of the House, and her party's hopes of capturing the presidency, on the belief she and her colleagues can persuade the country to support the indictment of a president for high crimes.
One wonders: Do Democrats blinded by hatred of Trump ever wonder how that 40% of the nation that sees him as the repository of their hopes will react if, rather than beat him at the ballot box, they remove him in this way?
The first casualty of Pelosi's cause is almost certain to be the front-runner for the party nomination. Joe Biden has already, this past week, fallen behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Iowa, New Hampshire and California. The Quinnipiac poll has her taking the lead nationally for the nomination, with Biden dropping into second place for the first time since he announced his candidacy.
By making Ukraine the focus of the impeachment drive in the House, Pelosi has also assured that the questionable conduct of Biden and son Hunter Biden will be front and center for the next four months before Iowa votes.
What did Joe do? By his own admission, indeed his boast, as vice president he ordered then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to either fire the prosecutor who was investigating the company that hired Hunter Biden for $50,000 a month or forgo a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee that Kiev needed to stay current on its debts.
Biden insists the Ukrainian prosecutor was corrupt, that Hunter had done no wrong, that he himself was unaware of his son's business ties.
All these assertions have been contradicted or challenged.
There is another question raised by Biden's ultimatum to Kiev to fire the corrupt prosecutor or forgo the loan guarantee. Why was the U.S. guaranteeing loans to a Kiev regime that had to be threatened by the U.S. with bankruptcy to get it to rid itself of a prosecutor whom all of Europe supposedly knew to be corrupt?
Whatever the truth of the charges, the problem here is that any investigation of potential corruption of Hunter Biden, and of the role of his father, the former vice president, in facilitating it, will be front and center in presidential politics between now and New Hampshire.
This is bad news for the Biden campaign. And the principal beneficiary of Pelosi's decision that put Joe and Hunter Biden at the center of an impeachment inquiry is, again, Warren.
Warren already appears to have emerged victorious in her battle with Bernie Sanders to become the progressives' first choice in 2020. And consider how, as she is rising, her remaining opposition is fast fading.
Sen. Kamala Harris has said she is moving her campaign to Iowa for a do-or-die stand in the first battleground state. Sen. Cory Booker has called on donors to raise $1.7 million in 10 days, or he will have to pack it in. As Biden, Sanders, Harris and Booker fade, and "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg hovers at 5 or 6% in national and state polls, Warren steadily emerges as the probable nominee.
One measure of how deeply Biden is in trouble, whether he is beginning to be seen as too risky, given the allegations against him and his son, will be the new endorsements his candidacy receives after this week of charges and countercharges.
If there is a significant falling off, it could be fatal.
Patrick J. Buchanan