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March 2009

The construction industry — first in line for much of the economic stimulus spending — is last among major California industries in health insurance for workers.

In Construction: Working Without a Healthcare Net, CPI documents that construction workers are more likely than workers in any other industry statewide to be chronically uninsured.

The construction industry is expected to gain more new jobs from the federal stimulus package than any other sector.  Anticipating the industry’s rebound, the CPI study analyzes the quality of construction jobs in terms of wages, health benefits, and occupational hazards at the peak of the last construction boom in 2005.

Even in those good times, only 35% of construction workers in California had health insurance provided by their employers, compared to half of workers in all industries.  Some construction workers relied on publicly funded programs like Medi-Cal, but 27% were completely uninsured for the whole year.

The construction industry accounts for 15% of the state’s chronically uninsured workers, more than twice its share of the workforce.

The report analyzes data from a statewide survey, and also includes stories of the personal impact: a 55-year-old concrete carpenter who is diabetic but skips his prescriptions some months and hasn’t sought care for a painful lump in his side; and an electrician whose young family went without dental checkups until he became unemployed and qualified for Medi-Cal.