Reshaping the Construction Industry

If gas prices are higher the next time you fill up the tank, one of the reasons there will be less money in your wallet is a shortage of skilled craft professionals along the Gulf Coast.

Reuters reports that refineries in the region have been forced to postpone some scheduled maintenance due to a lack of skilled craftspeople needed to complete the jobs.

Industrial Information Resources (IIR) “estimates that the coastal region from Brownsville, Texas to New Orleans - the largest U.S. refining region - will be short roughly 37,400 craftsman needed to complete all of the planned capital projects in 2017.” Postponing the upkeep of these plants, in many cases, means slowing production or having to deal with unscheduled outages. Unexpected outages in the past few months have already taken “hundreds of thousands of barrels off the market,” causing a rise in gas prices.

Exacerbating the issue of too few skilled craftspeople in the Gulf Coast region is that “Refiners are also competing for workers with a broader range of power companies, pharmaceutical firms and industrial manufacturers nationwide, which are also preparing for a spike in maintenance projects in 2017, according to IIR.”   Read more » about Gas Prices on the Rise Due to Skilled Labor Shortage

On December 20, KBR and the Fort Polk Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) celebrated the accomplishments of eight active duty Army soldiers who completed a rigorous, 120-day pipefitting training program. The program was delivered in an industry-education partnership with Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) in Leesville, Louisiana. The graduates were awarded National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Pipefitting course completion certificates and credentials, and every graduating soldier will be offered top helper positions on KBR project sites.

On August 16, 2016 KBR launched the training program to train active duty soldiers under the Army’s Career Skills Program (CSP).  Soldiers who are within 180 days of separation have the opportunity to apply and be selected to participate in these competitive, Army-approved, civilian training courses in preparation for their separation from the United States Army. KBR partnered with CLTCC Lamar Salter Campus to host the training location and provide the soldiers with 28 college credit hours.   Read more » about KBR’s Fort Polk Pipefitting Program Graduates Eight Active Duty Soldiers

As the Texas Legislature convenes this week in Austin to make and revise the state’s laws over the course of the next five months, the associations representing the commercial construction industry are on the same page about quite a few issues they'd like to see lawmakers address. Unless otherwise ordered by the governor, Texas lawmakers only meet once every two years for 140 days in a regular session.  

Construction Citizen reviewed the legislative priorities published by the Texas Construction Association, the Associated General Contractors Texas Building Branch and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas. The groups are working together on a push to simplify the state's lien laws, but have different takes on things like reining in labor unions and they’ll each be on guard for any immigration-related initiatives. On that last point, the groups would like to ensure fairness for the construction industry if the Texas Legislature acts on mandatory E-Verify for example.    Read more » about Texas Commercial Construction Industry Sets Priorities for the Legislative Session

Emily Peiffer, the editor over at Construction Dive, recently posted a feature article titled 10 Construction Trends to Watch in 2017. Since hers is one of the first of 2017, I thought that we would share the list and give you the link so that you can take a deeper dive into the list at your leisure. Here is Emily’s provocative list.

  1. Collaborative project delivery methods will become more popular.
  2. The labor shortage will continue to plague the industry.
  3. The feeling of uncertainty will linger under the new administration.
  4. Offsite/modular construction will gain a stronger foothold in the market.
  5. Construction firms are cautiously optimistic for a future infrastructure-spending boost.
  6. Read more » about Construction Trends for 2017

Jessica Minh Anh to Ambitiously Host Four Major Runways in 2017 Starting with Paris

Famously known for producing mind-blowing fashion shows on the Eiffel Tower, Grand Canyon Skywalk, London's Tower Bridge, and One World Trade Center, Jessica Minh Anh has become an undeniable force in redefining modern fashion standards while representing a new generation of multitalented creators. The model and entrepreneur, who holds an impressive record of 3 iconic catwalks per year in different continents, has ambitiously increased the number to 4 shows in 2017. Starting strong in Paris with her highly successful annual “catwalk on water,” Jessica Minh Anh will transform the Seine's giant glass boat into a 100-meter floating runway on January 26, 2017.

To create an illusion of models walking on water, Jessica will have guests seated facing the multi-faced glass window and watch models catwalking in front of them while the boat is cruising.   Read more » about Haute Couture Takes Over the Seine River on January 26, 2017

Construction spending hits 10-year high; apartments and warehouses remain hot

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 totaled $1.182 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in November, an increase of 0.9% from the October rate and 4.1% year-over-year (y/y) from the November 2015 rate, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday. The rate was the highest since April 2006. Private residential spending increased 1.0% in November and 3.0% y/y. New multifamily construction slumped 2.7% for the month but increased 11% y/y; new single-family construction gained 1.8% from October but declined 0.9% y/y; and residential improvements rose 1.5% for the month and 6.8% y/y. Private nonresidential spending climbed 0.9% for the month and 6.4% y/y. By subsegment, in descending order of November size, power (electric power plus oil and gas pipelines and field structures) edged up 0.5% for the month and 1.5% y/y; commercial (retail, warehouse and farm) added 0.3% for the month and 12% y/y; manufacturing skidded 1.1% in November and 8.0% y/y; office jumped 1.9% in November and 31% y/y to an all-time high; and health care fell 0.2% in November and 2.6% y/y.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Dec. 22, 2016-Jan. 5, 2017

The following article originally appeared in the January newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation, for the purpose of providing the latest leading indicators and industry issues to those clients.  Reprinted with permission.

“[2017] isn’t likely to be a banner year for the region’s economy, but it should be a further step on the road back to robust growth.” Those were the sentiments of Patrick Jankowski, Senior Vice President of Research at the Greater Houston Partnership, after unveiling his Houston employment forecast of 29,700 for 2017.

For construction, however, there is still more pain to be had. Digging into Jankowski’s numbers, construction is predicted to lose 16,000 jobs in 2017, largely due to the expected slowdown in the heavy industrial work. City of Houston permits also continue to track down in total dollar volume from a year ago, and are more heavily weighted to renovations and additions rather than new construction.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: January 2017

Two markedly different approaches to addressing workforce challenges are now featured in
Texas Tribune
, a statewide nonprofit news organization. Reporter Neena Satija took an in-depth look at both the Construction Career Collaborative, or C3, in Houston as well as the Workers Defense Project in Austin.

Workers Defense has earned significant mainstream media coverage in Austin and nationally – in fact, the New York Times called it “a union in spirit” – likely because it is often controversial and is seen by many as adversarial with business. C3 has been covered extensively by Construction Citizen but has seen less coverage in venues like the Houston Chronicle, for example.  

The story in the Tribune says Workers Defense seems to have “more teeth” than C3 and notes the advocacy group has often partnered with government to help achieve its goals.   Read more » about Texas Tribune Highlights Emerging Workforce Initiatives in Houston and Austin

Best wishes
for a year of
positive change.
Happy New Year!
Read more » about Happy New Year!

Just in time for the renowned ball drop on New Year’s Eve, the four-and-a-half-year renovation of Times Square in New York has just been completed.  An article by Jennifer Fermino in the New York Daily News this week quoted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio who stated, “There will be no more iconic place to ring in 2017 than Times Square.”

Named the Times Square Transformation, the project was a three-phase capital project which began in 2012.  Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had opened the Broadway pedestrian plazas there back in 2009, and the recent project “transformed [the plazas] from repurposed roadways into full pedestrian piazzas” designed by architecture firm Snøhetta.

Con Edison led phase one of the project, in which they installed “major infrastructure improvements below street level on Broadway, bringing up-to-date electric, gas, and steam equipment that has been untouched for many decades (The NYC Department of Design and Construction will first have to dig up trolley tracks that were buried under Broadway since the 19th Century!)   Read more » about “Crossroads of the World” 40-Million-Dollar Redesign Completed


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