Smart Growth & Jobs
- Reposted from NoVA Sprawl Weekly:
SMART GROWTH FOSTERS JOB GROWTH
Study: Anti-Sprawl Strategies Good for Construction Jobs
Washington, D.C. - A new study by Good Jobs First (GJF) finds that,
contrary to common belief, smart growth policies are good for
construction jobs. The report provides evidence that smart growth can
create more employment opportunities than sprawl for workers who build
residential and commercial structures and transportation infrastructure.
The study is available on GJF's website,
"Our findings challenge the conventional idea that construction
employment suffers when communities seek to curb sprawl and manage
growth," said Philip Mattera, GJF's Corporate Research Director and
primary author of the study. "In fact, our research shows just the
opposite, that smart growth fosters job growth."
GJF Executive Director Greg LeRoy emphasized organized labor's expanding
role in the movement against suburban sprawl. "We see growing
involvement from unions, including the Building Trades, in efforts to
promote smart growth. Our findings suggest that trend is very likely to
LeRoy noted the national AFL-CIO's 2001 convention resolution denouncing
sprawl and the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council's recent
endorsement of an Urban Growth Boundary ballot initiative with strong
support from its Building Trades affiliates.
The study, The Jobs are Back in Town: Urban Smart Growth and
Construction Employment, examines how growth-management policies affect
construction jobs. In Oregon, which adopted the country's first UGBs a
quarter-century ago, construction job growth outpaced the nation's more
than 4 to 1 for the most recent 15-year period.
GJF also commissioned two senior urban scholars to perform a national
analysis of 155 metro areas. Those with growth management policies
enjoyed construction activity per new resident more than $100,000 higher
than "business as usual" areas over a ten-year period.
The study also analyzes the labor intensity of different types of
buildings. Using data from a prominent estimating firm, it compares
compact building types (apartment houses and townhouses) to
single-family homes. In denser construction, labor makes up a larger
portion of total costs.
Finally, the study compares highway projects, using data from the
Federal Highway Administration. "Fix it first" projects - such as
resurfacing, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads - are more
labor-intensive than new highway construction, after adjusting for land
"We already know that smart growth reduces traffic and promotes clean
air," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "This
report provides another important reason why smart growth is a winning
formula for the economy and the environment."
Editor's note: Good Jobs First is a non-profit, non-partisan research
center promoting best practices in economic development; it is based in
"I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity,
an obligation; every possession, a duty."
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.