FAA Shutdown Idled Far Fewer Than the 70,000 Construction Workers Democrats Claimed, Study Finds

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Thursday a bipartisan compromise to end a political stalemate over funding the Federal Aviation Administration, the Nevada Democrat said that 74,000 transportation and construction workers would be able to return to work – a figure that has been cited often by other congressional Democrats and Obama administration officials during the two-week shutdown.

There’s only one problem: Democrats exaggerated.

“It’s probably about 24,000 construction workers who are out of work,” said Stephen Fuller, an economist at George Mason University. “That’s a pretty important number, especially to those workers, but it isn’t 70,000.”

Fuller conducted an industry study that found 70,000 airport construction workers would be “affected” in some way by the shutdown, not idled. However, the 4,000 FAA furloughed as a result of the shutdown is correct.

Other Democrats decided to use ambiguous figures when they praised the compromise that allowed Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to grant waivers to some small airports that would have lost $16.5 million in subsidies under a GOP-led House bill.

"I'm pleased that leaders in Congress are working together to break the impasse involving the FAA so that tens of thousands of construction workers and others can go back to work,” President Obama said.

"Today's announcement is good news for American workers. The agreement means tens of thousands of people can return to their jobs, support their families, and strengthen our airports, our infrastructure, and our economy,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.