Reshaping the Construction Industry

The following article originally appeared in the February 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.

As the year-end numbers come in, Houston is beginning to noticeably slow down.  After gaining more than 100,000 jobs in 2014, in 2015 Houston managed to only add 23,200 – a number that will likely be revised down by the Texas Workforce Commission in the months ahead.  As Dr. Gilmer noted this past November, the word is now out that the jobs are no longer in Houston, setting our city up for another slow year.  For construction, it typically can take two to three years to feel the full impact of a market change as sudden as Houston has experienced in the energy sector.  As such, 2016 – and especially the first half of 2016 – appears to remain robust.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: February 2016

We have reported several times on the progress of the new Foster + Partners designed Apple Campus 2 and its planned schedule to open in early 2017. The dream of Steve Jobs that achieved council approval in 2011 is entering the final stages of construction, according to the latest Duncan Sinfield shot drone video featured in the Fast Company blog site.

It is annotated so that you can begin to see the exterior finishes, the solar arrays on the parking garages and the roof of the underground auditorium.

You can see the installation of the 84-foot long sections of glass that will enclose the perimeter of this outstanding structure and provide space for the 13,000 employees that will work there when it is completed.    Read more » about Apple "Spaceship" Campus Update [VIDEO]

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Construction employment rises, but unevenly, in January; metro job gains are spotty

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.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000, seasonally adjusted, and by 2,665,000 (1.9%) for the year, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.9%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. Construction employment rose by 18,000 for the month (to 6,615,000) and by 264,000 (4.2%) year-over-year (y/y). Industry employment reached the highest level since December 2008. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) increased by 20,100 for the month and 149,500 (6.2%) y/y. Nonresidential employment (nonresidential building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) fell by 2,300 for the month and rose 2.9% y/y. The disparity may reflect the ongoing rise in residential spending and downturn in nonresidential spending in the last half of 2015 that the Census Bureau reported on Monday.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: February 3-5, 2016

Calling it a "revolution" in education, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Friday laid out plans for what he called a "statewide model" for Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH. The idea is focused on targeting workforce-ready partnerships between K-12, higher education and industry.

The program has been growing and allows students to earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in six years with a much higher rate of completion.

Speaking at Lone Star College in Houston, Patrick said students will benefit from the guidance of business community mentors and graduates of the program will be first in line for interviews for good-paying jobs. The effort, Patrick said, is meant to build on sweeping education reforms passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 under House Bill 5, which created multiple pathways for students to earn a high school diploma.   Read more » about Plans to Offer P-TECH Education in Texas Take Shape

Safety is all around us, and it is not just something you practice at work. There are hazards all around us. From everyday tasks, such as plugging in your devices into the outlet, to toys or clothes on the floor. Safety should be something we practice every day. It should be a part of our culture. Cutting corners can lead to catastrophic consequences and can ruin someone’s life in an industrial or construction setting. It can also cost your company a ton of money, not to mention having your reputation tarnished.

Companies have become more safety oriented with time, but there are still people out there who are willing to sacrifice safety just to gain that almighty dollar. There are some who preach safety on one end and speak a different language on the other end. With that being said, it is always good to have a refresher in some of the basic safety topics. There are training modules in place to help those coming into the industry and modules to remind those that have been in the industry for awhile.    Read more » about Safety First: Not Just a Slogan, But a Lifestyle

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Construction spending inches up in December; pay accelerates; 44 states, D.C. add jobs

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.

Construction spending in December totaled $1.117 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, 0.1% above the downwardly revised November rate and 8.2% higher than a year before, the Census Bureau reported on Monday. However, all of the growth for the year occurred in the first seven months. The December total was just 0.2% higher than in July. The full-year total, $1.097 trillion, was the highest annual level since 2007 before adjusting for inflation but was still 5.5% short of the 2006 record. Spending patterns diverged widely by segment and time period. Private residential spending increased by 0.9% for the month and 8.1% year-over-year (y/y). In contrast, private nonresidential spending slumped 2.1% for the month to a level lower than in May, although it was still up 12% y/y. Public construction increased 1.9% and 3.9%, respectively. New multifamily construction jumped 2.7% and 12%; new single-family construction gained 1.0% and 8.7%; and residential improvements rose 0.1% and 5.8%. Most private nonresidential segments decreased for the month but rose y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Jan. 28-Feb. 2, 2016

At literally almost any time of the day, there are Houston-area residents on the campus of San Jacinto College in Pasadena acquiring skills they need to be able to pursue good-paying careers in construction. Delores Tarin, for example, is a young woman who spoke with the Construction Citizen Team during an evening welding class this past week.

“The fire and the power is cool,” Tarin said. "After this, if I don't get a job with my new certification then I’ll continue and get my Associate's Degree,” she said. Tarin has previously worked as a helper on a pipeline and felt an upgrade in her skills will lead to a better-paying job.

Educators stress that the opportunities aren’t “just jobs.” Careers are available.

“There’s a career ladder out there,” said Dr. JD Taliaferro, Director of Applied Technologies at San Jacinto. “Some of these larger companies are being run by people who started as pipefitters, welders, and electricians out on the job,” he said. “Just because you’re starting somewhere, that doesn’t mean that’s where you end. Your fate is really up to you."

   Read more » about San Jacinto College: Working Around the Clock to Meet Workforce Needs

Hi there.  The Chamberlin Man here.

Dallas Love Field, a city-owned public airport in the heart of Dallas, Texas, serves seven million passengers a year providing a vital link for the economy of Dallas, the region and the nation. The airport has come a long way since it was established by the U.S. Army on October 19, 1917. Commissioned during World War I, when the top speed of even the fastest aircraft barely exceeded 100 miles per hour, the airport was little more than a grass landing strip. After more than 85 years in service, Love Field was designated as a Texas State Historical Site in 2003. Like all landmarks, it has a rich history and quite a few interesting facts surrounding it. It was at Love Field that Texan Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The airport greeted the 21st Century with the Love Field Modernization Program, the largest and most ambitious construction effort since its establishment. The airport was extensively renovated and expanded with a design that maintained the basics for which Love Field is known: passenger convenience, operational efficiency and maintainability.   Read more » about Four-Year Roofing Project Touches Down in Dallas

Six men have been arrested and charged with racketeering and fraud charges after allegedly paying employees of a Florida construction company through shell companies in an attempt to avoid paying more than $12 million in workers’ compensation premiums and more than $3 million in federal payroll taxes.  Meanwhile, the men appear to have made over $17 million in profits over the period of the investigation, which lasted from October 2013 to August 2015.

The Sun Sentinel, a publication based in Fort Lauderdale, reports that a Broward County Sheriff’s Office affidavit said that the owners of Richard and Rice Construction LLC and four other men used over 20 shell companies to hide the number of employees they hired.  The article says that police detective Benjamin Dusenbery wrote in the affidavit that:

“Although laborers were under Richard and Rice Construction control, they were said to be employed by the shell companies.  This allowed Richard and Rice Construction to hide the number of employees it had, lowering its insurance premiums and payroll taxes, while appearing to comply with necessary coverage requirements.  It allowed the company to submit lower bids for work.”

The article talks about the pay that trickled down to the actual workers – many of whom were paid off the books:   Read more » about Florida Contractors Accused of Racketeering and Fraud in Scheme Using “Shell Companies”

Houston-area construction employees who want to boost their careers have a great new resource at Parker Williams Branch Library thanks to a grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to purchase National Center for Construction and Education Research trainee guides.

The guides will be based at the Parker Williams Branch Library in southeast Harris County but can be requested for use at other Harris County Public Library branches. The commission funding enabled the library to purchase guides in more than 15 different craft areas as well as the Core Curriculum.

Also as part of the grant, Parker Williams Branch Library will host monthly orientations throughout the spring and summer of 2016 in the use of the guides as well as presentations on opportunities and career advancement in construction industries.

Some of the guides are available for check out and some are available for use at the library only. For employees who would like to study at the library, all Harris County Public Library branches are open on Saturdays and at least one evening per week.   Read more » about Construction Professionals: NCCER Training Guides Are Here

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