WASHINGTON — For the fourth time, Florida claimed the top spot in Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) eighth annual Merit Shop Scorecard, a ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on policies and programs that strengthen career pathways in construction, encourage workforce development and advocate for fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects.
The 2022 Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard rates state laws, programs, policies and statistics in seven categories: project labor agreements, prevailing wage laws, right-to-work laws, public-private partnerships, workforce development, career and technical education and job growth rate.
“Each state plays a key role in creating the conditions for the best taxpayer investment in quality infrastructure,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC’s vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “These policy and educational priorities are the foundation of creating a level playing field for all construction contractors to compete for work and build safely, efficiently and effectively.”
According to ABC, in addition to Florida fostering fair and open competition in public construction work, the state continues to reap the benefits of providing students with a multitude of career pathways, which in 2022 yielded a graduation rate of 96% for Career and Technical Education (CTE) program students.
Arizona again followed Florida in second place this year; the state claimed the first spot in 2020 and continues to be a high performer due to strong free market values, says ABC. Arizona has also benefitted from a strategic focus on its workforce and its students, satisfying 98% of the labor demand in the state and graduating 92% of its CTE students.
Rounding out the top five, Georgia ranked third, Alabama ranked fourth and Arkansas ranked fifth. Other states to receive an 'A' grade in 2022 include South Carolina, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia, in order by rank.
Of note, Alabama jumped from 15th in 2021 to fourth this year after investing an impressive $200 million in workforce development. Similarly, Oklahoma climbed to ninth this year, up from 20th in 2021, after increasing its workforce development investment almost tenfold from past years.
A notable drop in the 2022 rankings is Michigan, which fell nine spots because Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reinstated prevailing wage via executive order. The bottom tier of states, in ranking order, includes Hawaii, Alaska, the District of Columbia, California and New York, each receiving 'F' ratings in project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right-to-work policies.