The impact of the recent election on the US Construction industry
Despite the ongoing investigations and claims of election fraud in the US, it is becoming increasingly likely that Joe Biden will be confirmed as the next president of the United States, following his victory over Donald Trump at the beginning of November.
This will, of course, signal a new era in American politics and life as we know it. After all, the succession of what is arguably the most important professional role in the modern world will not come without significant adjustments.
We are also expecting business operations to change in the coming years, especially in the construction industry, where processes regarding regulation and infrastructure projects were amended significantly by the previous administration.
With construction hitting the headlines on numerous occasions during his tenure as president, including his notable plans to build a wall around the border of Mexico, it is a topic that is already being widely debated as experts attempt to predict what the Biden-Harris regime will mean for the industry.
So, what do we know so far?
“Business-friendly” construction under Trump
Even before he was sworn in, it was widely reported that the Trump administration would favour businesses when it came to streamlining infrastructure projects, with it being predicted that “Mr. Trump’s administration will be more business-friendly than President Obama’s was (or Hillary Clinton’s would likely have been).”
As time went on, Donald Trump outlined his infrastructure financing and policy blueprint, which included the ambitious target of $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments over the next decade, with the bulk of funding to rebuild roads, bridges, waterways, energy projects, rural infrastructure, public lands and other projects needing to come from state and local governments or the private sector.
While this goal was ambitious but progressive of an evolving sector, it was coupled with the controversial decision to formally pull the US out of the Paris agreement, as well as waiving environmental regulations and taking other actions to further expedite construction projects.
This is something that was met with a mixed reception, especially when you consider the fact that a number of leading firms have committed to sustainability in the future.
How will US construction change under the Biden-Harris regime?
While it is early days and very little is set in stone thus far, we can begin to discuss how the future of the US construction industry will look with Biden at the helm.
The President-elect has historically been vocal against many of Trump’s policies and decisions, including the building of the wall around the Mexican border and the withdrawal from the Paris agreement, meaning it is likely to see these reversed within the next year.
What we are likely to see immediately is a “regulatory freeze” of sorts, which will put a halt to all proposals currently in place. This will give the administration sufficient time to set regulatory priorities, both within construction and other industries.
It is also important to note that as Biden served under the Obama administration as Vice-President, we could begin to see a return to the proposals and rules that Trump worked to overturn as president. These include:
- Overtime Rule – Raising the minimum salary threshold in construction to $47,476 from $23,600, meaning employers would have to pay employees a higher salary to exempt them from overtime wages.
- Persuader Rule – Requiring employers to disclose attorney-client communications pertaining to labor union organisation efforts.
- Fair Play and Safe Workplaces Act – Requiring contractors bidding on federal construction projects over $500,000 to submit a history of their labor compliance.
Although we cannot yet confirm nor deny how the US construction industry will be shaped in the years to come, it will be interesting to see the impact of such a substantial change in public office, from the perspective of both businesses and employees.
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(Article originally posted on LinkedIn)