Reshaping the Construction Industry

The following article originally appeared in the September newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC for the purpose of providing the latest leading indicators and industry issues to those clients.  Reprinted with permission.

The Houston construction market is firing on all cylinders.  In addition to the hot market segments such as office and light industrial, now k-12 and healthcare are gaining momentum as well.  With the Affordable Care Act somewhat more “known”, the delayed construction of many medical facilities is now being planned or is underway.  Under the direction of their leader Dr. Robbins at the Texas Medical Center, Houston is poised to become one of the leading research parks in the world.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: September

Because of an absence of federal action on the problem of rampant worker misclassification in construction, we continue to track the progress of states across the nation that are trying to deal with what's been called “a cancer” in the industry.  Lawmakers in Minnesota have gotten particularly aggressive, pushing a registry for subcontractors that can be easily checked and then revoking licenses of contractors who don't comply.

Via Jonathan Barnes at the Engineering News-Record:

“After some success with the new effort, the Minnesota legislature recently extended the state's Contractor Registration Pilot Program for another year, saving it from expiring on June 30 as it was set to do, and extending its life until at least June 30, 2015.   Read more » about Minnesota Misclassification Crackdown Gets Results

Jessica Minh Anh to transform the symbol of the fashion capital into a catwalk

Global fashion sensation Jessica Minh Anh is set to amaze the world yet again with the first ever fashion phenomenon atop the world famous Eiffel Tower on October 31, 2014.  With a vision that goes beyond imagination, the model and entrepreneur will transform the first floor of the famous architectural wonder into a 150 meter long outdoor catwalk.  Covering the panoramic view of the fashion capital, the highly anticipated J Autumn Fashion Show will present the most innovative collections from five continents and mark Jessica’s eighth history making catwalk around the world.

Visually pushing the envelope, Jessica Minh Anh has designed a multi-level catwalk, which will cover various angles of the symbolic tower and present Paris at its best.  Over 150 haute couture and dynamic designs will be beautifully displayed and creatively captured using advanced filming techniques.   Read more » about Eiffel Tower Named Next Architectural Backdrop For Fashion Event

Occasionally we take a look out to the horizon to satisfy our curiosity about what might be headed our way and what might be a major disruptor to the construction business as we do it today.  We have introduced you to BIM, robots on the job, driverless dump trucks, driverless cars, driverless concrete trucks, drones of all kinds and more recently 3D printing.

Today we show you some conceptual thinking about the use of some of those tools in the military of the next 30 years as seen through the eyes of the scientists, engineers and designers at BAE Systems, the large UK aviation company with operations in Virginia, Houston, Austin and other cities in the United States.   Read more » about Signpost for the Future of Construction [VIDEO]

39 states add jobs in July; housing starts and permits, MHC, ABI show big gains

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

View July state employment tables by state and rank here. Please note the next Data DIGest will be sent the week of Sept.2.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment increased in 39 states from July 2013 to July 2014 and decreased in 11 states and the District of Columbia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released last Monday showed. The largest percentage gains were in Nevada (13%, 7,500 jobs), Delaware (13%, 2,600) and Florida (11%, 41,700). Florida again added the most jobs, followed by Texas (23,600, 3.8%) and California (22,600, 3.6%). The steepest 12-month percentage losses again occurred in New Jersey (-6.5%, -8,900), followed by West Virginia (-5.8%, -2,000), Mississippi (-5.6%, -2,900) and Arizona (-4.8%, -5,900). New Jersey also had the highest number of lost jobs, followed by Arizona, Mississippi and West Virginia.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 18-22, 2014

The following article by Vince Bailey, an estimator at E&K of Phoenix, was originally published in Construction Dimensions, a monthly publication by the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.  Reprinted with permission.

They’re back.  Activity in the commercial construction industry has been on the upswing for a couple of years now for most of us, and the reemergence of an unwelcome element in our midst was inevitable.  It is an unfortunate but predictable phenomenon that when prosperity flourishes, the parasites appear, and so we should not be taken by surprise when an attack comes from below.  The only trouble is, whether surprised or not, there is often very little that can be done to retaliate when a low-baller comes out of nowhere and bombs an otherwise righteous bid opportunity, shattering the prospects of valid and qualified bidders.  The best we can usually expect to do is shrug our broad shoulders and wait for the bottom-feeders to self-destruct.  But in the meantime, there is no question that they drag the level of the field down to a lower tier.  Still, a general awareness (or, the dirty low-down) on the nature and development of these subcontracting scoundrels can be useful.

For the record, I’m not talking about qualified competitors who wind up on the low end of the number cluster on several successive bids.   Read more » about Dirty Low Down

One of the smartest people I know is a Master Plumber who owns a small plumbing company, Two Twigs Enterprises, here in Atlanta.  Cary Mandeville is his name.  He did some apprenticeship training for our organization early on, and he warned me.  He said, “This labor issue is a big boulder that we are going to have to chip away at, piece by piece.  The solution will not come quickly.”

For a long time, I stubbornly viewed the skilled labor shortage as a boulder that, with the right leverage, could be pushed, rolled or at least moved within a few years.  Eighteen years later, I realize that my plumber friend was right.   Read more » about Celebrate the Small Victories

The following article was originally published in the Houston Chronicle.  Reprinted with permission.

Trade is at the very heart of economic success in Texas.  Every year, Texas companies export hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services to foreign markets.  In fact, Texas has ranked as the nation's number one exporting state for 12 years in a row.  Trade funnels hundreds of billions of dollars back home to support Texas jobs, families, and our state's much-envied economic might.  But for all of our exporting success in Texas, federal trade policies are holding the whole country back from its economic potential.  It's critical that Congress act quickly to expand our foreign trade if we hope to get our national economy back on track again.

The positive economic impact of trade is undeniable, for Texas and for the United States.  Here in Texas, of our total annual $1.4 trillion Gross State Product, or GSP, more than $250 billion comes from exports.   Read more » about Expand Trade, Expand the Economy

Texas has to grapple with an ever-changing job landscape in ways that its leadership has not previously considered, State Comptroller Susan Combs said in a new report titled Workforce – Capitalizing on our Human Assets.  “Before the skills gap gets to a breaking point, it is important that we realize today’s best jobs require ever-increasing levels of specialized knowledge and technical expertise,” Combs said.

The retiring comptroller, who opted not to seek reelection, says lawmakers need to tackle several issues including increased funding for adult education programs, multimedia information campaigns to promote industry-based certification, and economic incentives for companies to create apprenticeship programs.

In her report, Combs said that “unskilled” jobs are becoming a thing of the past, and the workers of today need to be able to be adaptable to the point that they are lifelong learners.   Read more » about Texas Comptroller Pushes for More Job Training Programs

Construction spending skids in June; jobs rise in July; wage gains vary by sector, state

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand increased 0.1%, not seasonally adjusted (and seasonally adjusted), in July and 1.7% over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Wednesday. AGC posted an explanation and tables focusing on construction prices and costs. Final demand includes goods, services and five types of nonresidential buildings that BLS says make up 34% of total construction. There are no indexes yet for other building types, residential or nonbuilding construction. The PPI for final demand construction, not seasonally adjusted, rose 0.5% in July and 3.3% over 12 months. The overall PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of five categories of buildings—rose 0.4% for the month and 3.2% since July 2013.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 8-15, 2014

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