NJ Ranks Near The Bottom For Free Enterprise In The Construction Industry

New Jersey is a poor place for construction contractors to do business, according to state rankings released recently by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard” reviews and ranks state-specific information significant to the success of the commercial and industrial construction industry.

The scorecard identifies states, such as New Jersey, where improvements need to be made to create an environment where merit shop contractors are well positioned to succeed as well as states that have created contractor-friendly business environments.

The Merit Shop Scorecard grades states on their policies on project labor agreement (PLA) and prevailing-wage 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 opportunities and results, and use of public-private partnerships. Also included is state data related to union membership, prompt-pay laws, business-specific tax and spending figures and safety information.

New Jersey policymakers can help reduce the cost of public construction to taxpayers and make it easier for contractors to expand their operations and create more construction jobs in the Garden State by creating a more business friendly environment. We can become a much more welcoming place for merit shop contractors by adopting policies that promote competition such as banning anti-competitive and restrictive PLA and prevailing-wage mandates and supporting Right-to-Work policies and workforce development programs that incentivize company training efforts.

Low-performing states such as New Jersey received among the worst overall rankings for their policies, while states such as North Carolina, Louisiana and Virginia received top marks for their free enterprise-based policies.

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 upon 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. Criteria and definitions are available on meritshopscorecard.org. The scorecard will be updated with exclusive state construction unemployment rate estimates from economist Bernard Markstein, Ph.D.


Dominick Mondi is President of the  Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), New Jersey Chapter.  ABC is a construction industry trade association representing nearly 21,000 chapter members across the country. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit us at abc.org.