Reshaping the Construction Industry

39 states add construction jobs in latest 12 months; reports on July starts diverge

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.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment rose in 39 states from July 2015 to July 2016, declined in 11 states and was unchanged in the District of Columbia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Friday showed. The highest percentage gains occurred in Iowa (17%, 12,800 jobs), followed by Hawaii (13%, 4,500), Idaho (13%, 4,800), Colorado (11%, 16,100), Arizona (8.6%, 10,900) and Massachusetts (8.4%, 11,600). Iowa and Massachusetts set new records. California again added the most jobs (29,100 jobs, 4.0%), followed by Florida (16,400, 6.1%), Colorado, Iowa and Massachusetts. North Dakota again lost the highest percentage of construction jobs (-8.5%, -2,900), followed by Wyoming (-7.5%, -1,700) and Kansas (-7.3%, -4,400). Kansas lost the largest number of construction jobs, followed by North Dakota, Alabama (-2,400, -3.0%) and Kentucky (-2,300, -3.0%).    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 15-22, 2016

One of the most expensive high school football stadiums in America is getting even more costly thanks to the rising cost of concrete and additional roadwork being done around the facility.

The McKinney Independent School District's stadium was already projected to cost right around $62.8 million.

Now the school board has been given an update pushing that number up $7.1 million – a much higher price tag than what voters in the area approved earlier this year. The new estimate will make this the most expensive high school stadium ever built, according to the Associated Press.    Read more » about Rising Concrete Prices Send High School Stadium Costs Up to Nearly $70 Million

Compared to other industries, construction productivity has declined significantly. Hear directly from owners on how to improve productivity.

The CLMA (Construction Labor Market Analyzer) white paper, Construction Productivity in an Imbalanced Labor Market highlights the construction labor productivity challenge as a major issue due to declining skill levels and labor shortages. One reason identified for poor productivity includes the fact that construction methods have not changed in decades and the industry has shown a marked reluctance to embrace new approaches such as lean manufacturing techniques.

The Need to Buck Current Productivity Trends

The chart on page 13 of the report (also shown above) shows regional changes in labor productivity as reported by owners and contractors. Overall, 49% felt that productivity was declining, with the worst areas including the Gulf Coast, the Southeast and the Atlantic Midwest while areas such as the Northwest appear to be bucking these trends.   Read more » about Owner Recommendations To Improve Productivity

In the four years since voters in Southeast Texas approved a $2 billion bond for construction in the Houston Independent School District, there's been progress on many of the campuses that were slated to be opened. In fact, six new schools are opening as the school year gets underway.

ABC 13 Investigative Reporter Ted Oberg uncovered documents, though, that show many campuses have been delayed for one reason or another.

From Oberg's report:

"...there is a cloudy future to the sunny announcements coming from HISD brass: There are delays in at least ten of the 40 schools that HISD pledged to renovate or rebuild in 2012, HISD documents suggest.   Read more » about ABC 13: Construction Delays at Some New Houston School Campuses [VIDEO]

I recently wrote about a Workforce Development Graduation honoring 21 Helpers, 19 Mechanics, and 9 Foremen who had recently completed those in-house training programs at Marek.  The keynote speaker for the evening was Peter Beard, Senior Vice President for Regional Workforce Development at the Greater Houston Partnership.  Mike Holland, Chief Operating Officer at Marek, presented Beard with a certificate of appreciation for his work in the Houston community.  It stated:

“The young men and women we are recognizing tonight will relate to their coaches, peers, supervisors, and workforce development staff as advocates for their future.  Behind the scenes, other advocates are working tirelessly to create a better path forward for all craft professionals.   Read more » about WFD Graduates Encouraged to take Pride in Building Houston [VIDEO]

My initial interest in Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry was sparked years ago, when vendors occasionally spoke of Bill Marek’s role as president of the AWCI back in the 1980s. I asked Stan Marek if I could attend a meeting or two to see what it was all about. It was just supposed to be a fact finding trip to gather pertinent information to share with my teammates. It never crossed my mind that I would get accepted to the Board of Directors, participate in the executive seats, and eventually serve as our industry’s association president.  

On my very first trip, the construction TECHNOLOGY committees lured me in and sold me on continuing to attend future meetings. It was one place where I could sit in one room surrounded by other contractors, vendors and manufacturers and learn about the latest activities affecting our trade.    Read more » about AWCI's President Recap

PPIs show little change in July; job growth resumes; openings rise as hiring dips in June

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 in July, not seasonally adjusted, decreased 0.3% from June and 0.2% year-over-year (y/y) from July 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. 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, declined 0.6% for the month but rose 0.8% y/y. The PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of five categories of buildings—also rose 0.8% y/y. Changes ranged from -0.4% y/y for industrial building construction to 0.1% for schools, 0.9% for healthcare buildings, 1.4% for office buildings and 1.5% for warehouses.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 5-12, 2016

Editor's Note: The Workers Defense Project in Austin is making progress in promoting its Better Builder Program, which seeks to ensure construction workers are paid correctly and are as safe as possible on construction job sites. More information about the program is here. In the guest op-ed below, the Better Builder Program Director Bo Delp explains that the Austin City Council is considering an expedited permit process for developers that agree to use the program on their projects.

The City of Austin is considering a budget-neutral policy that will create a win-win for workers, project owners, and honest contractors. 

Sound too good to be true? Hear me out.

Like much of Texas, the City of Austin is growing rapidly, and as a result its permitting process has become a mess, leaving project owners feeling the financial impact of serious delays. 

In response, the city is poised to create an expedited permit review process that will help reduce wait times for owners from months to days by asking owners to pay a premium, hourly fee. The challenge is that Austin is the most economically segregated city in the country and is facing a serious affordability crisis. Unbridled and unmanaged growth could amplify and exacerbate our city’s challenges. This would especially be felt by the men and women who build our city.   Read more » about Win-Win: City of Austin Considers Worker Protections, Permit Reform

What’s being touted as the biggest hotel on Earth is under construction in Saudi Arabia and its doors are set to open for business next year. At a cost of $3.5 billion, the Abraj Kudai will consist of 12 towers, 10,000 rooms, 70 restaurants and 5 helipads. Five floors of the hotel will be designated for the sole use of the Saudi Royal Family.

10 of the 12 towers will offer four-star accommodations. 2 of them will be equipped for five-star service and are going to be reserved only for “special clientele.”

Here is how The Guardian first described the hotel:

Modelled on a “traditional desert fortress”, seemingly filtered through the eyes of a Disneyland imagineer with classical pretensions, the steroidal scheme comprises 12 towers teetering on top of a 10-storey podium, which houses a bus station, shopping mall, food courts, conference centre and a lavishly appointed ballroom.   Read more » about World’s Largest Hotel Set to Open in 2017 in Saudi Arabia [VIDEO]

Houston's Construction Career Collaborative (C3), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization focused on the commercial construction industry in the Houston region, has made significant progress in the last two years.  Today, we are an alliance of over 200 institutional owners, general and specialty contractors that have each embraced the principles that drive C3.  Those principles include providing construction craft employees with financial security (hourly wage plus overtime), social security, workers’ compensation insurance, safety, and craft training.  We are constantly working to attract new alliance members and C3 accredited companies.  We need your help.

You might ask, “What is C3's mission anyway?”  C3's mission is to positively affect the issues facing the craft worker for the commercial construction industry in the Houston region.  The goal of this alliance of contractors, specialty contractors, and owners is to create a highly trained career construction workforce for Houston for the 21st century.  Evidence of that success will be a net gain in those jobs in our area and perhaps ultimately even beyond.

For the long term, in the face of demographic shifts, lack of defined craft career road maps and clear education for those students looking for a career in the construction trades, and a current shortage of skilled workers, C3 members are understandably concerned about the sustainability of the Houston commercial construction craft workforce.   Read more » about A Clear View of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3)

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