WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 21, 2021 — Wisconsin remains in fifth place in state rankings for construction business climate, according to the 2021 Associated Builders and Contractors’ Merit Shop Scorecard. The scorecard is based on state policies and programs that promote open competition and free enterprise for the construction sector and highlights the state’s exemplary business environment for merit shop construction contractors. The scorecard also identifies states where economic improvements are needed. The rankings are based on seven criteria: project labor agreements, prevailing wage laws, right-to-work laws, public-private partnerships, workforce development, career and technical education and job growth rate.
The Badger State has steadily risen in the rankings over the last decade as elected officials have enacted free enterprise reforms in the construction industry, and jumped from eighth to fifth in 2020. Florida returned to the top of the rankings this year based on the state’s continued encouragement of fair and open competition and innovative approaches to recruiting and upskilling craft professionals, many of whom see construction as a worthwhile alternative to careers negatively impacted by the pandemic. A year-to-year high performer, Florida ranked fourth in 2020 and claimed the top rank in 2018 and 2019. Arizona followed Florida in second place this year, down from first in 2020. Rounding out the top five, South Carolina ranked third, Georgia ranked fourth and Wisconsin ranked fifth. Other states to receive an A ranking in 2021 include Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee and West Virginia.
“The resiliency of our outstanding industry has been on full display throughout the year,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC’s vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “From economic and regulatory headwinds to talent shortages, supply chain bottlenecks, high inflation rates and a lingering pandemic, ABC member companies continue to invest in their people and deliver work safely, ethically and profitably. The top states in this year’s rankings set the standard nationwide in policies and programs that enable our contractors to do what they do best in delivering work that betters our communities. Equipping the construction workforce with the tools to succeed, such as policies that create an exemplary business environment for merit shop construction contractors, is important for local and nationwide economic stability and the future vitality of this industry, especially considering the expected increase in public construction projects in the coming year.”
Notable drops in the 2021 rankings include Massachusetts, which fell eight spots due to a decreased investment in workforce development and subsequent outcomes, and Virginia, which fell six spots due to its final implementation of both a costly and unnecessary prevailing wage and the repeal of policy of government neutrality on project labor agreements. The bottom tier of states includes Alaska, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Illinois and Washington, each receiving F ratings in project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right-to-work policies.
2021 Wisconsin Scorecard
Overall Rank: 5
Project Labor Agreement Policy: A
Prevailing Wage Mandates: A
Right to Work: A
Public-Private Partnerships: B
Workforce Development Incentives: D
Career and Technical Education: B
Job Growth Rate: B
Wisconsin Past Rankings
2021 — 5th
2020 — 5th
2019 — 8th
2018 — 12th
2017 — 15th
2016 — 21st
2015 — 26th