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Effects of weather-related disasters on U.S. highway, street and bridge construction sector labor markets




Shrestha, Sudip, author
Arneson, Erin, advisor
Harper, Christofer, committee member
Alves Pena, Anita, committee member

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The U.S. has been experiencing the increasing effects of disasters, both in frequency and economic losses. Disaster damages to U.S. transportation infrastructure systems cause hundreds of millions in direct and indirect economic losses annually. Hundreds of miles of highways, streets and bridges are damaged every year due to severe storm events and are particularly vulnerable to flood damage. The urgency to repair and reconstruct these road networks after disasters creates a sudden demand shock for construction industry services and labor. The term demand shock is used throughout this thesis to indicate changes in the demand for labor due to exogenous factors like weather-related disasters. The researcher hypothesizes that the rapid increase in construction labor demand after disasters influences labor wages within the highway, street, and bridge construction sector (NAICS 237310) labor market. Specifically, this study proposes to answer the following research questions: RQ1: How does post-disaster labor demand shock affect the highway, street, and bridge sector? RQ2: How do State-level socioeconomic conditions influence post-disaster labor demand shock? RQ3: How can the highway, street and bridge sector anticipate post-disaster labor demand shock? This research provides the quantitative assessments of how post-disaster demand for construction services can influence labor market wages in the highway, street and bridge construction sector. Results indicate labor costs spike after disasters, information that could help local and state governments to plan for post-disaster reconstruction project costs. This research can also help contractors bidding on roads and bridge reconstruction projects to include more accurate costs for labor wages. The study of labor demand helps in assessing the current status of labor market and its capacity in supporting the post-disaster reconstruction.


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