Three actions are necessary to build a thriving, profitable and durable construction industry:

  • Acceptance.  Recognize current situations and challenges and accept they are real.
  • Leadership.  Embrace core values and principles as innovators and leaders.
  • Solutions.  Collaborate among owners, contractors and workforce for solutions.
What challenges is the construction industry facing?  What principles, like sustainable value and social responsibility, should industry leaders embrace?  Where will the solutions come from?

Dodge, ConstructConnect, ABI, Census find divergent starts, design and permit trends

The value of construction starts rose 2% from January to February at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on Tuesday. "This was the second straight monthly increase, following a 15% hike in January [revised up from an initial estimate of +12%], as construction starts regained the upward track following four consecutive monthly declines to close out 2016. Much of February's advance came from a strong performance by the public works sector, led by the start of a $1.4 billion natural gas pipeline in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, plus an improved level of highway and bridge construction. The electric utility/gas plant category also strengthened with the start of two large power plants and a major transmission line project. At the same time, nonresidential building made a partial retreat [-9%] after its strong January performance, yet still remained slightly above its average monthly pace during 2016. Residential building in February also settled back [-3%], due to a slide for multifamily housing....Additional perspective is obtained by looking at...the 12 months ending February 2017 versus the 12 months ending February 2016, which lessens the volatility present in comparisons of just two months. On this basis, total construction starts were up 2%. By major sector, nonbuilding construction dropped 12%, with public works down 4% and electric utilities/gas plants down 30%.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 20-23, 2017

Now that it’s been given the green light by the the Austin City Council, a new program will launch in the coming weeks to expedite permitting for construction projects including "living wages" for large commercial projects.

The Austin Business Journal described the program this way:

After paying the additional fees, residential, mixed-use and small commercial projects can join the expedited permitting program with no extra hurdles. However major commercial projects — at least 75,000 square feet or $7.5 million in value, with no residential uses — must submit to oversight by a third party, such as the Workers Defense Project through its Better Builder Program.    Read more » about Austin Prepares to Launch New Expedited Building Permit Program

Construction input costs again outpace building PPIs; hires rise; 39 states 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.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand in February, not seasonally adjusted, increased 0.4% from January and 2.2% year-over-year (y/y) from February 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Tuesday. 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, dipped 0.1% for the month but increased 1.2% y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 13-17, 2017

Employment jumps in February; "Momentum" looks positive for building, power projects

Nonfarm payroll employment in February increased by 235,000, seasonally adjusted, from January and by 2,350,000 (1.6%) year-over-year (y/y), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The unemployment rate dipped to 4.7% from 4.8% in January. Construction employment (6,881,000) increased by 58,000 from the upwardly revised January total to the highest level since November 2008 and rose by 219,000 (3.3%) y/y. The monthly increase was the largest since March 2007 and probably reflected exceptionally mild weather in much of the U.S. in February. There was an increase of 15,100—the largest for February since 1996—in heavy and civil engineering construction employment, which is likely more affected than building or specialty trade contractors by winter weather. Average hourly earnings in construction increased 2.7% y/y to $28.48, or 9.2% higher than the average for all private-sector employees ($26.09, a y/y gain of 2.8%).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 6-10, 2017

The following article was authored by Mark L. Johnson and originally published in AWCI's Construction Dimensions magazine.

How do you ensure workers sharpen their skill sets? It’s a problem common in regions lacking unions and their great training programs. Most open shops can’t afford to develop craft training on their own. It’s time-consuming. It’s expensive.

So, how can it get done?

One idea comes from Houston. The Construction Career Collaborative (C3) has several high-profile projects, including some for the Texas Children’s Hospital. C3 has a novel approach: Owners require all players to have training programs in place. It’s a prerequisite to bid a C3 job.

“The wisdom behind what we’re doing is that it’s owner-driven,” says Chuck Gremillion, C3’s executive director. “The owner says, ‘This is my ballgame. These are my rules.’”    Read more » about Trained to Win

Construction spending, starts stumble in January; Beige Book finds 'modest' growth

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 $1.180 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in January, a decrease of 1.0% from the December rate but a 3.1% year-over-year (y/y) gain from the January 2016 rate, the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. Private residential spending in January increased 0.5% for the month and 5.9% y/y. New multifamily construction increased 9.0% y/y; new single-family construction rose 2.3% y/y; and residential improvements rose 11% y/y. Private nonresidential spending was unchanged from December but climbed 8.9% y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Feb. 27-Mar. 3, 2017

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

Value engineering is the buzz in the construction biz. The game is to be smarter, faster, safer and offer a better product. Do more than one at the same time and you’re “winning,” as the kids these days say.

I’m not knocking it. Applying a little ingenuity to deliver a better solution, save money or be most efficient is fantastic. Value is what everyone is after. But, what is it that makes one company better than another at providing value? At Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, I think we have a pretty darn good secret sauce. Let me give you a taste.   Read more » about Value Engineering: Who Cares?

The Houston Chronicle published an article recently about our undocumented workforce, primarily in the construction industry, and it deserves an immediate response.

The author laid it out very well. The undocumented workforce is and has been providing cheap labor for over three decades and they would be sorely missed if deportations continue without an immigration reform bill.

But there seems to be a misunderstanding about the root of the problem. It’s not just that so many are in this nation without documentation. It’s that they have never been employees. The way most people employ them – including homebuilders who have very few if any skilled craftsmen on payroll – is as independent subcontractors.

Read more » about Getting to the Root of the Immigration Challenge

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