A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

The 2017 ABC National Craft Championships concluded with an awards ceremony at 8:30 am Friday morning in the Floridian Ballroom of the Greater Fort Lauderdale and Broward County Convention Center.  I was privileged to attend the hands-on portion of the two-day competition for craft profession trainees and apprentices, as well as the awards ceremony Friday morning for what Greg Sizemore, ABC Vice President of EH&S and Workforce Development, called “The biggest and best celebration of merit shop construction.”
March 24, 2017
Dodge, ConstructConnect, ABI, Census find divergent starts, design and permit trendsThe value of construction starts rose 2% from January to February at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on Tuesday. "This was the second straight monthly increase, following a 15% hike in January [revised up from an initial estimate of +12%], as construction starts regained the upward track following four consecutive monthly declines to close out 2016. Much of February's advance came from a strong performance by the public works sector, led by the start of a $1.4 billion natural gas pipeline in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, plus an improved level of highway and bridge construction. The electric utility/gas plant category also strengthened with the start of two large power plants and a major transmission line project. At the same time, nonresidential building made a partial retreat [-9%] after its strong January performance, yet still remained slightly above its average monthly pace during 2016.
March 23, 2017
Now that it’s been given the green light by the the Austin City Council, a new program will launch in the coming weeks to expedite permitting for construction projects including "living wages" for large commercial projects.The Austin Business Journal described the program this way:After paying the additional fees, residential, mixed-use and small commercial projects can join the expedited permitting program with no extra hurdles. However major commercial projects — at least 75,000 square feet or $7.5 million in value, with no residential uses — must submit to oversight by a third party, such as the Workers Defense Project through its Better Builder Program.   
March 22, 2017
Construction input costs again outpace building PPIs; hires rise; 39 states add jobsEditor’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 in February, not seasonally adjusted, increased 0.4% from January and 2.2% year-over-year (y/y) from February 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Tuesday. AGC posted tables and an explanation 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. The PPI for final demand construction, not seasonally adjusted, dipped 0.1% for the month but increased 1.2% y/y.   
March 21, 2017
From the window of my home. I can see two cranes against the skyline. I live in Houston and over the past few years, cranes have become a pretty common site. With binoculars, I can see the sole operator in his solitary perch. All day he swings the long lateral arm. Sometimes it is a bucket of cement, other times long steel rods and other assorted materials. Any other method of moving so varied payloads would take a great deal more time and human power.   
March 20, 2017
“The Future is here, it is just not very evenly distributed yet.” - William Gibson, AuthorAdvanced technology is screaming onto the construction jobsite today. Everything from remote driverless dump trucks to self driving concrete trucks, smart phones, ipads, laser scanners, thermal imaging cameras, RFIDS and geospatial devices are all being adopted by contractors on the jobsite. Some companies are investing in the new technologies and others are waiting. They will soon be screaming if they don’t pay close attention to the rapid development of augmented reality and its impact on all parts of our industry.Personal protection too, is about to get a makeover for the first time in decades.   
March 17, 2017
This game has many variations, but one of the worst is the basic game of change orders.As a subcontractor, you are into the job and the scope changed or the drawings were finally completed and you were finally able to get the shop drawings completed. It took longer because the owner’s rep or the designers could not or would not make a decision.Sometimes you have to submit a change order to help you cover the additional work that was necessary to meet the revisions. You submit them to the General Contractor as scheduled and a week later get a denial in no uncertain terms.  
March 16, 2017
Following a recent report that some immigrants have avoided construction jobsites out of fear that they’ll be deported, the AGC in Austin decided to conduct a survey aimed at determining whether recent immigration enforcement actions by the Trump Administration have had a real impact on the workforce.Here are some major takeaways from the survey:76% of local commercial construction industry having hard time finding hourly craft workers, according to the survey. This is almost identical to the statewide results of 74% reported in an AGC of America survey last year.40% responded that they’ve been having trouble for years finding workers, regardless of the recent government policy changes regarding illegal immigration. Only 19% responded that the recent changes are having SOME or a MAJOR impact on their work. 17% say it’s too early to tell. 28% say that the often-cited statistic that “50% of construction workers in Texas are undocumented” is either too low or about right. 22% say it depends on type of work and trades involved. 21% said they don’t know.  
March 15, 2017
When I was in grade school, we used to play “Crack the Whip” where one boy would act as an anchor and 5 or 6 other kids would form a chain, hold hands and begin to run usually counterclockwise. As the speed began to pick up the kid at the end of the line would go flying into the air usually taking a nosedive into the turf. I was a skinny kid and usually ended up flying through the air, fun until gravity played its role.Later, as a teen at the roller rink or on the ice, we played the same game with the person at the end of the whip speeding at an incredible speed, but sometimes ending up being slammed into the boards. You get the idea I’m sure. The person at the end of the chain takes the brunt of the blow. This might be a fun game to play as a kid, but tough on the person at the end of the whip, especially when it is you. Crack! Bam! Boom!General Contractors play this game with higher division subs when it comes to scheduling.   
March 14, 2017
Employment jumps in February; "Momentum" looks positive for building, power projectsNonfarm payroll employment in February increased by 235,000, seasonally adjusted, from January and by 2,350,000 (1.6%) year-over-year (y/y), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The unemployment rate dipped to 4.7% from 4.8% in January. Construction employment (6,881,000) increased by 58,000 from the upwardly revised January total to the highest level since November 2008 and rose by 219,000 (3.3%) y/y. The monthly increase was the largest since March 2007 and probably reflected exceptionally mild weather in much of the U.S. in February. There was an increase of 15,100—the largest for February since 1996—in heavy and civil engineering construction employment, which is likely more affected than building or specialty trade contractors by winter weather. Average hourly earnings in construction increased 2.7% y/y to $28.48, or 9.2% higher than the average for all private-sector employees ($26.09, a y/y gain of 2.8%).  
March 13, 2017