The passage Senate Bill 1 (SB1) is expected to raise $5.2 billion annually, with $54 billion over the next decade going toward roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California. Funding for these projects comes via a tax on gasoline and diesel fuel.
This investment in infrastructure creates a huge demand for construction workers and apprentices in The Golden State. A 2011 formula devised by the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates about 13,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion invested. Many of these positions are middle-class employment, an area where California has struggled to grow.
Carpenters, cement masons, laborers, operating engineers and ironworkers are in high demand. Yet, a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America found 70 percent of construction firms are struggling to find quality workers.
“Never before has there been ‘so much’ infrastructure project development on the books.” – John Hakel
In California, construction companies that get public works contracts are required to pay a “prevailing wage.” Its purpose is to be sure employees are paid a fair salary. It is determined when the government does a survey of union and nonunion construction employers to figure the going rate for the different trades.
This type of wage has made infrastructure work a solid middle-class career track that is very attractive to people who aren’t seeking four-year degrees. It is possible to have more than just a job, but a career in the trades with substantial pay and good job security.
Recent reports show some general laborers and road workers can make $58,000 to $70,000 per year; heavy equipment operation supervisors pull in as much as $98,228 to $119,392 annually.
Across Southern California, more young people are learning about the better wages in construction. This is important because companies are looking for young blood. The passage of this bill means 10 years of projects and job security. Under California law, apprentices must comprise 20 percent of the workforce on public works projects to ensure a steady supply of skilled construction workers.
“The Labor Unions saw this coming and have enhanced their apprenticeship programs to meet the need.” – John Hakel