Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Massive construction socialism in the US?

Over at RealClearMarkets, Steven Malanga has an article up about the declining fate of unions and their lack of hope in an Obama presidency. The article is all fine and good, but this one sentence struck me (emphasis mine):

Even though government controls about 25 percent of all construction in the country, in the last 30 years, according to research by economists David Macpherson and Barry Hirsch, unionization in the construction industry has declined by nearly two-thirds to just 14 percent of all workers, from 38 percent.

The government controls a quarter of all new construction?? Wow! Since RCM obviously isn't a fan of web 2.0-style willy-nilly linking and citation (unlike, say,, which cites as fastidiously as Wikipedia), there is no source in the article. There is also no contact information for the author, either on or the page of his other employer, the Manhattan Institute. I've e-mailed the editors at RCM asking for a source, and if I get an answer back, I'm sure I'll write more about this – I knew that the construction industry is highly regulated by the government (in rather prosaic but influential ways, like zoning laws and minimum parking regulations), but I had no idea that they had such a direct role. Unless I'm misunderstanding what the author means by "controls."

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