Reshaping the Construction Industry

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) announced yesterday that more than 170 of the top construction apprentices and trainees in the country will compete in the 30th annual National Craft Championships, March 1-2 during ABC’s Workforce Week ’17 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Competitors from 29 states will contend for gold, silver and bronze medals and a safety award in 13 competitions representing 11 crafts.  The two-day competition includes a written exam and a hands-on, practical test where competitors will demonstrate their high-level craftsmanship and best safety practices.

“The National Craft Championships is a great opportunity to show off the exceptionally skilled and well-trained craftsmen and women that work on Associated Builders and Contractors member jobsites,” said 2017 ABC National Chair Chuck Goodrich, president of Gaylor Electric Inc. Indianapolis.  “ABC looks forward to showing off the very best the merit shop construction industry has to offer, including six Gaylor Electric apprentices, and drawing needed attention to the terrific career opportunities available in the construction industry.”   Read more » about More Than 170 Top Construction Pros to Compete at ABC’s 2017 National Craft Championships

You might think that your company or jobsite is secure and protected from risk. Don’t bet on it. If you think that you have everything covered and you have shifted your risk, think again. Whatever you might be doing to protect your company, the potential risk is much higher than you might think. We took a look at the Kroll Global Fraud and Risk Report and found that the stats were shocking.

According to the 2016/2017 Kroll Global Fraud and Risk Report, 82% of executives surveyed reported that they had an incident of fraud over the previous 12 months. The report, which examines major global theaters and industries, found that most responding companies have seen an increase in fraud, cyber and security breaches.

The study, completed by Forrester (Nasdaq: FORR), “one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world,” includes “10 in-depth interviews and an additional online survey with 545 senior executives worldwide across multiple industries.”    Read more » about Fraud, Cyber and Security Risks Rose in 2016

Through their various trade associations, construction executives from all over Texas are letting state lawmakers know what they think about issues that impact the industry. The Texas Construction Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas, and other groups have compiled lists of reforms and proposed changes to state laws that they hope will be enacted during this legislative session. As you may know, the Texas Legislature only meets in regular session for five months every two years. 

There are some fairly complex policy questions involved, which is part of why lawmakers must first hear from those who are directly affected before any changes can be made during a limited time frame. 

This past week, I had the honor of speaking to contractors gathered in Austin for the Texas Construction Association’s bi-annual Walk on the Capitol. I've been pleased to be part of this great event for three legislative sessions in a row. This session, the TCA has prioritized reforms to the state’s lien laws, worker misclassification legislation, and other things.    Read more » about Construction Executives Weigh in on Issues at the Texas Capitol

Employment rises in January; spending slips in December; recent pay trends are mixed

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 in January increased by 227,000, seasonally adjusted, from December and by 2,343,000 (1.6%) year-over-year (y/y), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The unemployment rate inched up to 4.8% from 4.7% in December. Construction employment (6,809,000) increased by 36,000 from the upwardly revised December total to the highest level since November 2008 and rose by 170,000 (2.6%) y/y. Average hourly earnings in construction increased 3.2% y/y to $28.52, or 9.7% higher than the average for all private-sector employees ($26.00 a y/y gain of 2.5%).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Jan. 30-Feb. 3, 2017

It is a game almost older than dirt, a “table stakes” game. Every contractor or sub has been tempted to play the game at one time or another to win a project. It is commonly known as “the grey bag,” or “this is the way it is played here,” or “I know that you are not the lowest, but…” or “if you will hire this consultant on the project, I will guarantee that you will get it,” or “if you will hire my cousin’s company as a sub on this project or that one, then I will help you get the project.”

The legal profession knows it as “bribery” and even though it continues on projects around the country, the downside risk if you play is considerable.

Two recent examples caught our eye. The first was reported in the Houston Chronicle. It involves a former Houston Independent School Board member and Chairman who, along with his co-defendants, were convicted of “tortious interference in a business relationship, bribery, conspiracy and a violation of the RICO statutes." The game involved collusion among the trustee, a contractor and a “consultant” to block the plaintiff’s attempts to get work from the school district. The game was that in order to get work, the bidder had to hire the consultant and pay fees.    Read more » about Games Contractors, Subs and Owners Play: Bribery

An article by Johnny Magdaleno which was published in Next City last month offers reactions by representatives from the Workers Defense Project and Workforce Solutions Capital Area to a report by personal finance website NerdWallet which listed Austin, Texas as “the best place to search for a job in 2017.”

The Austin area is indeed growing its employment opportunities in technical fields with the opening of Apple’s new campus and the promised funding by Microsoft, Google, and IBM for internships for low-income job seekers and veterans through the TechHire initiative.

However, workers in the construction, restaurant, and other service industries are not all finding the same job growth opportunities.   Read more » about Austin, Texas: Best City for Job Seekers?

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

Well, here we are. We’ve made another full lap around the sun. Welcome to 2017! It’s hard for an old guy like me from another generation to believe we’ve made it this far.

It’s also hard for me to believe how far technology has come. I just got my copy of the Winter Chamberlin News and read all about Electronic Leak Detection, or as the cool cats in the know call it, “ELD.” Let me tell you friends, if you’re curious about ELD methods, efficiencies and limitations, this story serves up some great insights. Take a look to get a pulse on ELD and see if it’s right for your next project.

The newsletter also features a project of which the Chamberlin team is particularly proud, the Hallmark Senior Living Community in Houston. Because the work was taking place while folks were home, this restoration project included a series of precautions and extra communications ensuring residents weren’t disrupted in the least.   Read more » about My, How Far We’ve Come!

Employment rose in 32 states in 2016; materials costs climb; yearend Dodge starts slip

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 32 states from December 2015 to December 2016 and fell in 18 states and the District of Columbia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on January 23 showed. Nevada again led in percentage gain (15%, 11,000 jobs), followed by Oregon (9.0%, 7,600), Iowa (8.3%, 6,900), Minnesota (8.0%, 9,300), Washington (7.6%, 13,500) and Colorado (7.0%, 11,000). Florida  added the most jobs (22,300 jobs, 5.1%), followed by California (20,900, 2.8%), Washington, Nevada and Colorado. Illinois lost the most jobs (-9,700 jobs, -4.5%), followed by New York (-7,800, -2.1%), Alabama (-6,100, -7.4%) and Kentucky (-5,000, -7.4%). Alabama and North Dakota (-7.4%, -2,400 jobs) had the steepest percentage loss, followed by Kansas (-6.8%, -4,200) and Kentucky.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: January 20-27, 2017

President Donald Trump's proposed border wall isn't just highly controversial. Now that he’s been elected and has begun the process of fulfilling campaign promises, it is also becoming more apparent the project is a logistical nightmare for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a lack of enough skilled workers to build what would be one of the largest public infrastructure projects in history.

Bloomberg News puts a fine point on it:

A labor shortage has left few hands to build houses and factories in the region, where wages have already been rising and projects delayed. Now, the president’s plan for “immediate construction of a border wall” will force the government to find legal builders for a project that could employ thousands if not tens of thousands.   Read more » about Labor Shortage Could Force Trump’s Hand on Legal Status for Thousands

There is a saying that “Things are Bigger in Texas.” Whether we Texans just brag about it or whether others expect it from us, that is the myth.

Not on supertall buildings.

The latest report from The Council on Tall Buildings Council and Urban Habitat (TCBUH) on the supertall buildings completed over the last year titled 2016 Another Record-Breaker for Skyscraper Completions; 18 “Tallest Titles” Bestowed lists China, not Texas or even the US, as the country completing the most buildings over 200 meters or 656 feet tall. While second on the list of completions, the US was not even close.

According to the report, there were a total of 128 buildings completed in 2016 and China far outstripped Texas and the US with 84 completions to a paltry 7 in the US. South Korea followed with 6, Indonesia with 5 and the Philippines and Qatar tied at 4. In terms of combined height, according to TCTBUH, China completed 30,301 meters or 99,413 feet of tall buildings. Stacked end on end, that would be 18.8 miles high. That is pretty tall and enough to give the Chinese real bragging rights in that category.

If you look at the various charts in the report, and they are eye opening, you will see that the latest round of completions brings the leader China to a total of 500, followed by the US at 187, the Middle East at 137 and Europe at 47 buildings over 200 meters high.    Read more » about Things are Bigger in…China?


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