Reshaping the Construction Industry

It turns out that it is safer to be a construction worker on a skyscraper than on a shorter building. According to a report in Commercial Observer, the safety measures utilized on major buildings that are 10 stories or more are much more stringent than the those put on minor buildings (less than 10 stories), and historically this has resulted in more fatal accidents on shorter building projects:

“From 2010 to 2015, there were 1,446 accidents on construction sites, resulting in 40 deaths, and 75 percent of those fatalities happened in buildings with less than 10 stories, according to a 2016 report by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)”

Although accidents happen on both tall and short building projects, safety violations are more likely to accompany accidents on minor projects because of the lack of safety oversight.    Read more » about Report: The Taller the Building, the Safer the Jobsite

It is always gratifying to witness a group of construction leaders gathering to discuss the state of our workforce and what might be done if we acted in concert.

I experienced that recently in Atlanta, Georgia at a meeting of the Construction Industry Employer Roundtable. As a guest of MAREK and MEMCO Atlanta, I joined approximately 12 construction trade associations represented by about 20 executives, along with a few contractors and specialty contractors, who were recognizing the one-year anniversary of their existence.

The formation of this group acknowledges the workforce challenge facing the construction industry, across our nation, and the need for the industry to come together to collaborate, develop a collective voice, and align strategies.    Read more » about There is Life Out There On the Workforce Frontier

The presidential election of November 2016 represents an historic change in the United States, producing a new President-elect, Donald J. Trump, who has proposed policies to “Make America Great Again.” Those policies include controlling immigration, renegotiating trade agreements, raising defense spending (of the U.S. and its allies), cutting personal and corporate tax rates, increasing energy independence, reducing regulation, and spending up to $1 Trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure. All or any combination of these, could potentially have a powerful impact on our future.

A review of the construction outlook for chemical plants, LNG terminals, gas plants, refineries, and transmission and distribution for oil and gas leads us to believe, despite abundant uncertainty, that the proposals of President-elect Trump improve the prospects for industrial construction almost across the board.

Regulatory changes will encourage the production of natural gas – encouraging investment in chemical plants, natural gas liquefaction facilities, refineries, and natural gas plants – even though increased capital costs, due to higher interest rates, will somewhat reduce those investments. The outlook for pipelines is better, since the Trump Administration will promote the Keystone North project and encourage the production and utilization of domestic oil and natural gas.   Read more » about The Trump Effect on Industrial Construction

Amid high unemployment in areas like the Midwest where people have in almost no way been encouraged to retrain themselves and while there are calls for increases in the minimum wage for jobs in fast food, the construction industry is offering good paying jobs but hurting for workers in a big way.

There are a variety of reasons for this, naturally. The problem is especially bad in North Texas, reports the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas-Fort Worth leads the country in construction of both houses and apartments. The lack of skilled labor is adding months to construction timelines and helping to inflate property prices in Big D and beyond.    Read more » about Residential Construction Seeks a Million Workers

ConstructConnect, ABI, Beige Book signal positive, but mixed, outlook for starts

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 value of nonresidential construction starts decreased 5.6%, not seasonally adjusted, year-over-year (y/y) from December 2015 to December 2016 but increased 6.8% for the full year, data provider ConstructConnect reported on Tuesday. Nonresidential building starts (66% of the total) slipped 2.3% y/y but expanded by 11% for the full year. Commercial building starts dipped 1.7% y/y but added 11% for the year; institutional building starts, -3.9% y/y and +12% for the year; and the small industrial building starts segment, +0.3% y/y and -13% for the year. Heavy engineering (civil) starts (34% of the total) fell 12% y/y but only 0.5% for the year. The largest subsegments, in descending order of 2016 size, were school/college, down 9.7% for the year; road/highway, up 1.6%; water/sewage, up 6.8%; and retail/shopping, up 25%.

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score in December soared to 55.9, seasonally adjusted, the highest one-month reading since July 2007, and a large leap from November's mark of 50.6, the American Institute of Architects reported on Wednesday. The ABI measures the percentage of surveyed architecture firms that reported higher billings than a month earlier less the percentage reporting lower billings; any score over 50 indicates billings growth. Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: January 16-19, 2017

A huge part of my job as the executive director of the Construction Career Collaborative is to spread the word about exactly what we are doing and what kind of progress we are making. 

That’s accomplished in a variety of ways including stories on Construction Citizen and speaking to groups of contractors, owners, and others. We also spread the word by doing news interviews with media outlets like the Texas Tribune and writing op-eds that appear in the Houston Chronicle

Over the last several months, we’ve added a new way for you to stay up to date with all the latest developments surrounding our movement: The C3 News Brief. 

The C3 News Brief is published once every two weeks and is delivered straight to your email inbox. In it, you'll find all the latest news about C3, information on upcoming events, recognition of C3 accredited employers, links to our training database, and updated facts about the Construction Career Collaborative.   Read more » about Stay Up to Date With the C3 News Brief

The following article originally appeared in the January newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation.  Reprinted with permission.

We begin 2017 with optimism and excitement. We have been able to “walk our talk” about executing the right succession plan. As of January 1st, we become part of the Houston Team of the heralded consulting firm, FMI. The timing is right for us, I am now an octogenarian; Candace, a leading-edge millennial on the springboard of her productive years. They are attracted to my past and her future.

Candace and I are humbled and honored to join our industry’s leading consulting firm. Our mandate is to continue to serve our clients exactly as we have and to help them grow in Houston and Texas. This move gives us the capacity to add significant additional value with FMI’s vast resources of bright people, tailored industry data, and an impressive track record of helping construction companies prosper and grow.   Read more » about Practicing What We Preach: Successful Succession

A recent post by Joe Paduda, principal of Health Strategies Associates, in his blog, Managed Care Matters, titled “Construction Labor Fraud is Screwing Everyone” was the second in his series on labor fraud and the damage it is doing to the insurance industry. In this issue, he interviewed Matt Capece, representative of the General President at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, about how bad the worker’s comp problem has become in some key states like Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Capece said, “When we go onto jobsites in Florida, on 8-9 out of 10 sites we hear from carpenters that they are getting paid in cash.” He indicated that subs and labor brokers in Florida are paying in cash with no overtime or any other benefits like vacation, worker’s comp or training. Usually they are also misclassified as independent contractors as well.    Read more » about Games GCs and Subs (Labor Brokers and Insurance Agents) Play: Worker’s Comp

After an increase in construction related deaths, the New York City Council is poised to consider a raft of proposals aimed at increasing safety on jobsites throughout the largest city in America. Crane safety is on the minds of council members as is the oversight of smaller jobsites. 

If this package is passed, there would be stricter monitoring of “troubled actors” and increased penalties for lawbreakers.

More details from a site called Crain's New York Business:

The legislation, called the Construction Safety Act, is led by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, but some elements could face resistance from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has ambitious goals for housing development and has clashed with construction-worker unions. The mayor has already expressed skepticism with one of the council measures, a bill to require training programs for construction workers.   Read more » about New York City Council Moves to Crack Down on Construction Site Safety

Contractors are upbeat about 2017 markets; job growth slows as openings soar

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.

Contractors are optimistic, on balance, about the 2017 outlook for nonresidential and multifamily construction, based on the 1,281 responses to a survey that AGC released on Tuesday. About 46% expect the available dollar volume of projects they compete for in 2017 to be higher than in 2016, while 9% expect the volume to be lower, for a net positive reading of 36%. The net reading was positive for all 13 market segments included in the survey, the net was highest for hospital and retail, warehouse and lodging construction, at 23% each; followed by private office, 20%; manufacturing, 18%; highway and public building, 15% each; higher education, K-12 school and water/sewer, 14% each; multifamily and other transportation, 11% each; power, 10%; and federal construction, 7%.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: January 6-13, 2017

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