U.S. DOT Will Allow and Encourage Local Hiring

The U.S. Department of Transportation has changed its rules in favor of local hiring: a pilot program will even encourage it. Minorities traditionally barred from high-paying construction work stand to benefit.

1 minute read

April 24, 2015, 1:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Freeway Construction

Lev Kropotov / Shutterstock

A recent Justice Department ruling has prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to "change its own rules to permit local projects receiving federal assistance to use local preferences in hiring employees. At the same time, the department is launching a one-year 'hire local' pilot program to encourage transportation agencies to set up programs that give preference in hiring to local residents, low-income workers and veterans."

Not everyone is sold. Sandy Smith writes that the construction trade's union-centric culture has been slow to incorporate certain kinds of people. "One other obstacle the advocates said needed to be overcome is the reluctance of some in the construction trades to recognize the untapped value in this potential workforce. Some contractors and union officials worry that there won't be enough qualified candidates in low-income communities, for instance." 

The rule change may begin to change that perception, garnering real benefits for minority communities: "construction remains one of a relative handful of fields that offer the opportunity for high-paying skilled work to those without college degrees."

The public has until May 6 to comment on the proposed change. 

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