Unemployment among union construction workers is still higher today than at any time since the Great Depression, but the AFL-CIO says more than 11,000 union jobs have been created in its effort to put 15,000 trades people back to work by the end of 2012.
Union officials said the new jobs are a direct result of investments of more than $963 million from pension funds into 34 housing, healthcare facility, and other construction projects from Boston to San Francisco.
The investments have generated nearly $2 billion in new development activity across the country, said AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J. Sweeney, who now chairs the union’s Housing Investment Trust Fund (HIT).
“This is a remarkable accomplishment,” Sweeney said in a statement Thursday, noting that the construction industry has lost two million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007 and has lagged behind other sectors in the struggle to recover.
“The unemployment rate for construction workers remains at Depression-era levels,” Sweeney continued. “The HIT is helping put these men and women back to work. We have financed real estate developments that are providing affordable housing, jobs and economic activity in cities from coast to coast.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the pension fund investments “are a win-win for working people and their communities” at a time when many lenders and investment firms have all but withdrawn from new real estate development projects.
He called the investments “socially responsible” because they provide competitive returns for union workers; help put low- to moderate-income Americans in affordable housing; and help spur economic growth in communities still suffering in a bad economy.
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