Study: Construction Can Help Rebuild Middle Class

construction workersBy David Schepp

As the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests show, many in America's middle class are angry about the uneasy economic circumstances in which they find themselves. Most typical wage earners have endured decades of stagnant wages even as costs for food, health care, housing and college tuition have continued to rise.

In short, average Americans are feeling pinched and far less wealthy than they once did. But there is a way to help reinvigorate the middle class while also rebuilding the nation's failing infrastructure, a recently published study suggests, by seeking to include those who have been traditionally underrepresented in the construction industry.

That aim is being achieved in many places across the U.S. through what are known as community workforce agreements (CWAs), according to a study by Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

First put in force early last decade, CWAs are a form of project labor agreement (PLA) -- contracts that establish work rules on a project-by-project basis -- that have been used for decades by many governments. But CWAs go further, as principal researcher Maria Figueroa recently noted at a press conference in Manhattan, by targeting specific populations for employment on private- and public-sector construction projects.

"The findings of our study indicate that -- particularly since 2004 -- PLAs are becoming comprehensive in their scope," Figueroa said, adding that the most likely used workforce provisions include the training and hiring of veterans, minorities, women, low-income earners and local residents.

Read the full story on AOL Jobs.

See also:
Report: Home Prices Up in Half of U.S. Cities
Obama's Refinance Plan Explained
Viewpoint: Obama's Drop-in-the-Bucket Idea for Housing

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