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Truck Driver Pay Increases 2.2 Percent in One Month

Truck driver pay jumped 2.2 percent in February from January, while registering a 4.6 percent increase compared to February 2010, according to Longbow Research. The 4.6 percent year-over-year increase in average hourly earnings is the largest jump in driver pay since early 2003, as the economy emerged from a downturn. 

Efforts Continue to Fend off Government Contractor Withholding

The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 included a provision that required federal, state and local governments to withhold a 3 percent tax from government contractors and report the amount on the 1099 of the vendor beginning in 2011. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009, delayed the effective date of the withholding requirement by one year to 2012.

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service announced it is further delaying implementation until 2013.

Construction Industry Adds 5,000 Jobs between March and April

The construction industry added 5,000 jobs in April while the industry’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 17.8 percent, nearly twice the national average, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released on May 6 by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Warehousing/Logistics Firm Denied Indiana Tax Breaks for Public Transport

As noted in the March 4 issue of The State Laws Newsletter, the Indiana Department of Revenue has ruled that a warehousing and logistics operation was ineligible for the state’s broad sales and use tax exemption for entities engaged in “public transportation.” The case involved an operation with a primary facility near its main costumer, the factory of a major manufacturer.

The taxpayer received the customer’s products, stored them, readied them for shipment and arranged for their shipment by other parties.

Automatic Unemployment Tax Boost Stopped in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) has signed legislation (S. 8) to prevent an automatic increase of 40 percent in the rate of the state’s unemployment insurance tax. The increase was intended to replenish the unemployment fund, but it would have hit businesses hard. Patrick said cancelling the increase, which amounted to about $228 per employee annually, would save employers over $400 million. However, the unemployment fund remains empty. 

Growing Number of Metro Areas Add Construction Jobs During Past Year

Construction employment either increased or remained steady in a growing number of metropolitan areas – 120 of 337 – between November 2009 and November 2010 according to an analysis of federal employment data released on December 28 by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Phoenix, Ariz. added more construction jobs (3,100 jobs, 4 percent) than any of the 70 metro areas to add jobs during the past year. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. added the highest percentage (33 percent, 300 jobs).

Equipment Manufacturers Predict Modest Upticks in Business Through 2013

In the construction equipment “business outlook” survey released on December 16 by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM):

  • Construction machinery manufacturers predict overall business in the United States to close out 2010 with 6.4-percent growth, then gain 12.7 percent in 2011 and 14.8 percent in 2012, followed by 2013 growth of 13.0 percent.
  • Canadian business overall is expected to be 8.2 percent higher in 2010 than the previous year, and record gains of 12.0 percent in 2011, 14.8 percent in 2012 and 12.7 percent in 2013.

Architecture Billings Index Reaches Highest Score Since 2007

After reversing into negative territory in October, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) rose more than three points in November to reach its highest mark since December 2007. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 52.0, up from a reading of 48.7 the previous month.

IRS Sets Mileage Rates for 2011

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has set the allowable standard deduction business travel in a car for 2011. Effective January 1, the rate increased from the 50 cents effective in 2010 to 51 cents for 2011. The 2011 rates for medical or moving will be 19 cents a mile, and for travel serving charities 14 cents a mile. IRS also allows the deduction of actual costs incurred in business travel, but requires that appropriate records be maintained to prove those expenses.