The stimulus package is well, stimulating. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group, the nation’s construction backlog for July rose 8.9 percent to 6.1 months. The backlog is a measure of how much work construction companies have. The increased business is all coming from infrastructure projects, not new housing developments or factories.
“The stimulus passed in February is turning into contracts, actually money being spent,” says the trade group’s chief economist Anirban Basu. “It’s mostly road resurfacing, water and sewer projects. That’s the fastest way to get money out the door.”
Basu figures about $131 billion of the $787 billion in stimulus money that Congress approved is going toward infrastructure. Some states, including Texas and California, have jumped on the funding opportunities faster than others.
All this is about jobs. President Obama is saying nearly one million jobs have been saved through the increased government spending.
“One can debate if the rate of return is what it ought to be,” Basu says. “Would it make more sense long term to be repairing our air traffic control system, building nuclear power plants or high speed rail?”
Well, let’s look on the bright side. Fewer potholes.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.