Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard

ABC releases state rankings on policies affecting construction industry.

November 28, 2016 |

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Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) released its annual update to “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard,” which reviews and grades state-specific policies and information significant to the success of the commercial and industrial construction industry. The scorecard highlights states that have created a free enterprise-based environment where merit shop contractors are well positioned to succeed and calls attention to states where strategic improvements need to be made.

The Merit Shop Scorecard grades states on their policies on prevailing wage and project labor agreement (PLA) mandates and Right to Work status, as well as their construction job growth rate, commitment to developing a well-trained workforce, career and technical education (CTE) opportunities and results, and use of public-private partnerships (P3s). 

Louisiana, Virginia and North Carolina ranked first, second and third, respectively. Each state earned top grades for enacting PLA, prevailing wage and Right to Work policies that favor free enterprise, using P3s and placing a high percentage of students in colleges or careers after graduating from CTE programs.

Conversely, Illinois, New Mexico and Alaska ranked as the three worst environments for merit shop contractors. Each received a “D” or “F” grade for their policies on PLA and prevailing wage mandates and failure to adopt a Right to Work law; they also received poor marks for their workforce development incentive programs.

The merit shop philosophy is the belief that people and companies succeed based on free enterprise principles within the free market system, which is characterized by open and fair competition and diverse participants. Those who adhere to the philosophy believe employees and employers have the right to determine wages and working conditions through either individual or collective bargaining, as they choose, within the boundaries of the law. They oppose violence, coercion, intimidation and the denial of the rights of employees and employers. Furthermore, they believe it is incumbent on all branches of government to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and that government should award contracts based solely on merit to the lowest responsible bidder, regardless of labor affiliation.

The Merit Shop Scorecard was developed with input from ABC chapters and industry stakeholders across the country. A full list of state rankings, as well as criteria and definitions, is available at meritshopscorecard.org. The scorecard is also updated with exclusive state construction unemployment rate estimates from economist Bernard Markstein, Ph.D. 

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