The 2009 federal economic stimulus package did much to stanch the hemorrhage in the construction sector. Money was directed quickly to projects that otherwise would have been idled, says Ken Simonson, chief economist of The Associated General Contractors. "However, total highway construction spending in the first eight months of 2010 was 1.5% less than in the same period of 2009, so clearly not all highway contractors came out ahead," he said. "There is enough spare capacity in the highway construction industry to support an even higher level of funding."

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