Tag Archives: associated general contractors of america

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Construction Spending Level Climbs Modestly In May As Hot Residential Market, Public Spending Rise

 

Total construction spending climbed modestly in May as growth in residential and public construction offset a drop in private nonresidential activity, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials predicted that spending would remain uneven through the second half of 2013.

“Hesitancy by private owners to commit to new construction, along with continuing shrinkage in public budgets, will keep the recovery weaker than it otherwise would be,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “On the plus side, both new residential spending and improvements to existing homes will keep some contractors busy. Residential spending appears poised for double-digit growth all year long.”

Construction put in place totaled $875B in May, an increase of 0.5% from April and 5.4% since May 2012, based on Census revisions dating back to 2011. Private residential spending rose 1.2% for the month and 23% from a year earlier. Private nonresidential spending dropped 1.4% in May and 0.9% year-over-year. Public construction spending gained 1.8% for the month but declined 4.7% over 12 months.

“The major private nonresidential segments remain volatile,” Simonson said. “Hotel construction has been the only consistently strong nonresidential category this year. But I expect a gain later in the year in activity related to oil and gas, such as pipelines, petrochemical plants, and fueling facilities for natural gas-powered trucks.”

The biggest jump in construction spending was in new multi-family construction, which soared 2.5% for the month and 52% year-over-year. New single-family construction rose 0.4% and 33%, respectively. Residential additions and renovation fell 2.7% in May but rose 5.1% over 12 months.

The largest private nonresidential category, power construction — which includes oil and gas field and pipeline projects as well as power plants, renewable power and transmission lines — rose 2.1% in May but slipped 1.5% from May 2012.

The second-largest nonresidential segment — manufacturing — plunged 8.1% for the month and 3.4% from May 2012, although the manufacturing total for the first five months of 2013 combined was 5.4% higher than in January-May 2012.

The private lodging category, covering hotel construction and renovation, rose 1.6% in May and 22% over 12 months.

Highway and street construction, the largest public category, increased 0.8% in May but fell 7.3% from a year earlier, Simonson noted. The next largest public niche, educational construction, edged up 0.4% for the month but plunged 11% year-over-year, respectively, he added.

“Federal government construction spending appears headed for the steepest decline of any type,” Simonson said. “Agencies have been cutting back on contracts since 2011 and the pattern seems sure to continue.”

Spending on federal projects climbed 0.6% for the month but plunged 16% from a year earlier and 29% from the high point in August 2011, he noted.

 

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Construction Spending Level Edges Up In April Despite Decline For Public Projects

 

Total construction spending registered a small gain in April but showed very mixed patterns among major segments, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials cautioned that a surge in certain project types and regions could leave the industry short of workers even while overall unemployment remains high.

“The report underscores patterns that have prevailed for several months: surging home and apartment construction, volatile private nonresidential activity and shrinking public investment,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “This uneven result is leading to selected materials cost increases and localized reports of worker shortages despite continuing hard times for many contractors and workers.”

Construction put in place totaled $861B in April, rising 0.4% since March and up 4.3% since April 2012. Private residential construction spending inched down 0.1% in April but jumped 19% from a year earlier.

Private nonresidential spending climbed 2.2% for the month and 0.6% year-over-year. Public construction spending dropped 1.2% for the month and 5.1% over 12 months.

“New apartment and home construction were standouts again and should remain very strong for the rest of 2013,” Simonson said. “Growth has been more inconsistent among private nonresidential categories, reflecting reluctance of businesses to commit to investing in structures amid ongoing economic uncertainty. Meanwhile, there appears little prospect that public agencies will start investing in infrastructure any time soon.”

Over the past 12 months, the biggest jump in construction spending has occurred in new multi-family construction, which soared 3.4% for the month and 49% year-over-year. New single-family construction rose 1.4% and 39%, respectively. But overall residential gains were held down by a decline in improvements to existing structures of 3.3% for the month and 7.0% from April 2012.

The largest private nonresidential category, power construction — which includes oil and gas field and pipeline projects as well as power plants, renewable power and transmission lines — leaped 10.8 in April following a steep downward revision in the March estimate.

Despite the one-month surge, power construction spending was down 2.8% since April 2012. The second-largest private segment, manufacturing construction, slumped 2.6% for the month but added 2.2% over 12 months.

Highway and street construction, the largest public category, increased 0.5% in April but slipped 3.4% from a year earlier, Simonson noted. The next largest public niche, educational construction, tumbled 4.4% and 13%, respectively, he added.

Association officials said the latest construction spending figures highlight the need to reinvigorate skills-based training programs in public schools and reject arbitrary caps on construction workers in proposed immigration legislation.

“We need to make sure we have prepared workers in place to handle growing demand for construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

 

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Construction Employment Level Hits 3-Year High as Firms Add 48,000 Jobs

 

The construction industry added 48,000 jobs in February, the ninth consecutive month of job growth for the sector, as more people are working in construction than at any point in the past 3 1/2 years, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials cautioned, however, that employment gains remain tenuous and could be undermined if Washington officials fail to reach a deal on federal investment levels later this month.

“With construction employment increasing by the largest amount for a single month in nearly six years, the steady improvement in construction hiring is particularly encouraging,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The job gains are coming from every part of the construction industry and while the sector’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, it is heading in the right direction.”

Construction firms employed 5.78M people in February, a gain of 48,000 from January and 140,000 or 2.5% from a year ago, Simonson noted. The industry unemployment rate, which is not seasonally adjusted and thus is typically high in February, fell from 17.1% in February 2012 to 15.7% last month.

Both residential and nonresidential construction added jobs for the month and year. Residential construction — building and specialty trade contractors — added 19,400 jobs in February and 64,200 (3.1%) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction — building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction — expanded by 29,000 employees in February and 75,700 (2.1%) over the year-ago level.

“Both single- and multi-family homebuilding have been accelerating for several months and should continue to add jobs in the near future,” Simonson said, noting that he expects construction employment may increase by 250,000 in 2013. “On the private nonresidential side, there will likely be strong growth in power and energy-related projects, manufacturing and distribution facilities and private college construction. However, public construction remains weak.”

Association officials said that recent improvements in construction employment could be undermined if Congress and the Obama administration fail to reach an agreement to fund federal operations known as a continuing resolution by the time the current one expires on March 27. Should Washington officials fail to enact a new continuing resolutions, tens of billions of dollars worth of federal investments in infrastructure and construction projects could be shut down.

“While the new employment figures are encouraging, the construction industry’s recovery remains fragile,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, noting that the construction firms employ nearly two million fewer people today than in 2006. “Putting billions of dollars worth of construction projects on hold because Washington officials can’t set a budget threatens to undermine the sector’s recovery just as it is starting to heat up.”

 

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Construction Employment, Spending Levels Hit 3-Year High As Firms Add 28,000 Jobs

 

Revised government data issued today show the construction industry is contributing substantially to economic and employment growth, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials noted that construction employment rose for the eighth consecutive month in January, while construction spending in December increased for the ninth month in a row. Both totals were the highest levels in more than three years.

“The new employment data show the industry lost even more jobs in the recession than previously estimated but has added almost 300,000 jobs in the past two years, including nearly 100,000 since September,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Meanwhile, the steady rise in construction spending since last March suggests contractors will be hiring even more workers in the months ahead.”

Construction firms employed 5.731M people in January, a gain of 28,000 from December and 102,000 or 1.8% from a year ago, Simonson noted. The industry unemployment rate, which is not seasonally adjusted and thus is typically high in January, fell from 17.7% in January 2012 to 16.1% last month.

Both residential and nonresidential construction added jobs for the month and year. Residential construction — building and specialty trade contractors — added 14,500 jobs in January and 53,200 (2.6%) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction — building, specialty trade and heavy and civil engineering firms — expanded by 13,700 employees in January and 48,900 (1.4%) over the year-ago level.

Construction put in place totaled $885 billion in December, the most since September 2009 and a pickup of 0.9% from November and 7.8% compared with December 2011. Private residential construction spending jumped 2.2% for the month and 24 percent year-over-year. Private nonresidential spending grew 1.8% and 7.6%, respectively. These increases more than offset a plunge in public construction spending of 1.4% for the month and 5.6% over 12 months.

“We are likely to see continued strong growth in single- and multifamily homebuilding, moderate increases in private nonresidential construction and shrinking public investment levels for the next several months,” Simonson said. “Those trends, in turn, will lead to a steady increase in the number of construction jobs.”

Association officials said the rosy outlook could be undermined if public officials do not begin to increase investment in construction. They urged Congress to avoid an abrupt slowdown in federal funding that would occur if an across-the-board spending sequestration or a government shutdown occurs in March.

“Instead of making short-sighted cuts in programs to provide flood protection and clean water systems, Washington officials need to find a way to address out-of-control entitlement spending,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “And we must continue to give the private sector the kind of stability and certainty it needs to thrive.”

 

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Construction Spending Slips in November, But Rises From A Year Ago

 

Construction spending dipped from October to November, but resolution of the uncertainty regarding federal taxes for 2013 should unleash more private construction investment, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials warned, however, that unresolved issues about federal construction spending, including storm relief for northeastern states, will hold down public construction spending.

“Preliminary data from the Census Bureau for November shows overall construction spending slipped 0.3% from October’s total after seven months of steady gains,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

“The more significant comparison, however, is with year-ago levels, and the November report shows a respectable 7.7% gain over the past 12 months.”

Simonson noted that private single- and multi-family spending continued growing strongly. Spending on new single-family houses climbed 1.3% for the month and 29% year-over-year. Multi-family spending rose 0.5% and 46%, respectively.

“Private nonresidential construction has been in a holding pattern for the past several months, but last night’s passage of a tax bill should encourage many businesses to go ahead with projects they have held in reserve,” Simonson predicted. “Despite a drop of 0.7% in November, the year-over-year total was up by 8.2%, and this figure appears poised to return to double-digit percentage gains in the next few months.”

Simonson pointed out four categories of private nonresidential construction that posted increases of more than 10% between November 2011 and November 2012, although results for the latest month were mixed. Lodging construction declined 1.3% for the month but jumped 26% over 12 months.

Office construction shrank 0.9% from October but grew 17% from November 2012. Private transportation construction, principally by rail and trucking companies, added 3.4% for the month and 16% year-over-year.

Power and energy construction, including spending on oil and gas fields and pipelines, contracted 1.4% from October but rose 14% over 12 months.

Simonson observed that public construction spending, which has alternated between monthly increases and decreases in 2012, sank 0.4% in November and 2.6% year-over-year. He said the two biggest categories of public spending both rose for the month but declined from November 2011 levels.

Highway and street construction spending was up 0.5% from October but down 6.0% from a year ago. Educational construction spending rose 0.1% for the month but fell 3.4% from year-ago levels.

Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer for the construction trade association, urged Congress and the administration to make infrastructure investment a top priority in 2013.

“Congress and the president have provided some tax certainty that provides a foundation for economic growth,” Sandherr said. “But their jobs are far from completed. It is vital that the states devastated by Hurricane Sandy receive funding immediately for recovery work. In addition, lawmakers should not target construction spending for further cuts when they turn to spending decisions in the next two months.”

 

 

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Construction Material Costs Dip in October, but Outrun Contractors' Bid Prices

Construction contractors face a continuing cost squeeze, even though a key price index for construction materials dipped in October and showed only a moderate increase over the past year, according to an analysis of federal figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials warned that recent and announced price increases may threaten the survival of some contractors.

“Although several materials retreated in price last month, prices in the past year have still outpaced the tiny increases in contractors’ bids,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the construction trade association. “In addition, some of the price drops have already reversed, or will soon, leaving contractors who have already submitted bids vulnerable to losses.”

The producer price index for inputs to construction — covering materials that go into every type of project, plus items consumed by contractors such as diesel fuel — decreased 0.4% in October, following increases of 0.9% in both September and August.

The index climbed 2.0% in the 12 months ending in October. Meanwhile, the indexes that reflect what contractors would charge for their work were largely unchanged and mostly rose less than materials costs over 12 months — 1.0% for industrial buildings, 1.4% for new office construction, 1.5% for schools, and 2.6% for new warehouses.

Simonson said prices for essential construction materials were mixed in October. The price index for diesel fuel rose 2.3% in October and 12.6% over 12 months. Prices for copper and brass mill shapes climbed 2.8% in October and 4.7% year-over-year.

In contrast, the index for steel mill products dropped 1.9% for the month and 8.5 % for the year. The index for lumber and plywood shrank 1.8% in October but was 6.2% higher than a year ago. Indexes for gypsum products and insulation materials both fell 0.7% for the month but rose relative to October 2011 — by 14.1% and 5.5% respectively.

“Many of these price changes appear to be short-term,” Simonson said. “While retail diesel prices have dropped 15 cents per gallon in the past three weeks and copper futures have declined, steel, gypsum and even concrete suppliers have announced hefty price hikes for December or January. As a result, contractors who have already bid to install these materials at fixed prices may be headed for losses, and even bankruptcy.”

Association officials said declining public investments in infrastructure and businesses’ reluctance to commit to investments in the face of the “fiscal cliff” are forcing contractors to keep bids low. “With so few projects to bid on, contractors are offering their services with little or no margin to cover materials costs,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, noting that recent Census Bureau data showed a 4.2% drop in public construction spending and a slackening in the growth of private nonresidential construction between September 2011 and September 2012.

“Congress and the administration have to find a way to avoid the catastrophic increases in taxes and cuts in infrastructure spending that threaten many construction firms and risk putting their employees out of work.”

 

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Construction Sector Adds 17,000 Jobs As Unemployment Rate Drops to 11.4%

Construction employers added 17,000 jobs in October while the industry’s unemployment rate fell to 11.4%, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials noted that total construction employment levels have changed little during the past year while the declines in the industry’s unemployment rate are coming as more former workers leave the industry.

“Despite five consecutive months of construction employment gains, the overall employment picture is essentially unchanged from a year ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Construction employment appears stuck in a state of mild monthly flux with little change to the overall number of jobs.”

Construction firms employed 5.539 million people in October, up from 5.522 in September, Simonson noted – an increase of 0.3%. The sector’s overall employment in October is 20,000, or 0.4%, higher than one year earlier when firms employed 5.519 million workers.

However, Simonson noted that overall construction employment remains down by nearly 2.2 million compared to six years ago when the sector’s employment peaked at 7.7 million workers.

Both residential and nonresidential construction added jobs in October, with nonresidential construction outpacing residential construction for the month. Residential construction added 4,700 jobs in October, as residential building contractors lost 2,000 employees while residential specialty contractors added 6,700 new workers. Residential construction employment is now up by 12,300 compared to 12 months ago.

Nonresidential building contractors added 12,200 jobs in October, but are only up by 7,600 jobs compared to one year ago. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 10,100 jobs for the months while nonresidential building contractors added another 4,600 jobs. However, heavy and civil engineering construction firms lost 2,500 jobs during the month as public sector investments in construction continued to decline.

Association officials noted that the October data did not reflect impacts from the massive storm that damaged much of the eastern United States. They said reconstruction and repair work that was likely to take place in November and throughout the winter months would have minimal overall effect on construction employment.

“Even as some firms pick up work repairing damaged buildings and infrastructure, other firms will suffer as previously planned projects are cancelled or delayed,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Construction employment is not likely to change significantly because of Hurricane Sandy.”

 

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Construction Spending Hits 3-Year High in September

 

Construction spending in September climbed to a nearly three-year high at an annualized rate of $852 billion, as increased spending on houses, apartments and private nonresidential projects outweighed a continuing downturn in public construction, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials said they expect both the public and private trends to continue despite the disruption caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“It is heartening to see the growth in total spending, but the progress remains fragile and fragmentary,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, noting that construction spending had dipped the previous month and that spending in several categories remains lower than in September 2011.

“In the wake of the massive losses from this week’s storm, many construction priorities will be reordered, but overall private and public spending patterns are likely to stick unless federal and state lawmakers devote more funds to construction.”

Simonson noted that total construction spending rose 0.6% for the month and 7.8% from September 2011 to September 2012, bringing the total to the highest level since October 2009. Private residential spending accelerated, increasing by 2.8% compared with August and 21% during the past 12 months.

Private nonresidential construction, however, inched down 0.1% for the month, but remains up 8.8% for the year. Public construction shrank 0.8% in September and 4.2% year-over-year.

Within the private sector, all three residential categories did well. New single-family construction increased 3.9% for the month and 26% over 12 months. New multi-family construction rose 1.3% for the month and 49% since September 2011. Improvements to existing residential structures — a category likely to get a large boost from storm reconstruction — climbed 2.0% in September and 12% over the year.

Among private nonresidential categories, the largest — power construction, which includes oil, gas and other energy projects — rose 1.1% for the month and 20% over 12 months. Manufacturing construction was up 3.8% in September and 1.3% year-over-year. Commercial construction, comprising retail, warehouse and farm structures, dropped 3.8% in September but posted a 12-month gain of 4.4%.

Public construction fell for the third straight month, with declines in the two dominant categories. Highway and street construction spending decreased 1.6% in September and 2.4% year-over-year, while educational construction spending slipped 0.8% and 6.9%, respectively.

Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer for the construction trade association, called on public officials to make available extra funds for rebuilding. “Lawmakers cannot merely raid one part of their construction budgets to make urgent repairs at a time when funding for infrastructure is already inadequate,” he said. “Stabilization and restoration of the hard-hit infrastructure in the Northeast should supplement, not crowd out, long-needed projects elsewhere and in that region and nationwide.”

 

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Construction Employment Declines in 28 States; 30 Add New Jobs

Construction employment declined in 28 states from September 2011 to September 2012 even as 30 states added jobs during the past month, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data.

Association officials noted that the monthly gains, while welcome, were too small to offset the larger annual declines in many states.

“Even though a good number of states added jobs in September, most states have a smaller construction workforce than they did a year ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Between the fiscal cliff, unset tax rates and declining public sector investments, there are a lot of construction projects on hold as owners wait for a clearer picture of where the economy is heading.”

Among states losing construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-16.1%, -2,400 jobs), followed by New Jersey (-10.2%, -13,400 jobs) and Nevada (-9.4%, -5,000 jobs).

New Jersey lost the most jobs, followed by New York (-12,500, -4.1%), Pennsylvania (-9,100 jobs, -4.1%), North Carolina (-8,400 jobs, -4.7%) and Illinois (-8,400 jobs, -4.4%).

Simonson noted that 22 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between September 2011 and September 2012.

The District of Columbia added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (12.5%, 1,500 jobs), followed by Nebraska (11.1%, 4,500 jobs) and North Dakota (11.0%, 2,800 jobs). Texas added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (32,800, 5.9%), followed by California (25,700, 4.7%) and Indiana (6,300, 5.0%).

New Jersey (-3.4%, -4,200 jobs) had the steepest percentage decline among the 19 states that lost construction jobs for the month, followed by the District of Columbia (-2.9%, -400 jobs) and Delaware (-2.8%, -500 jobs).

The largest number of construction job losses in September occurred in New York (-4,700 jobs, -1.6%), followed by New Jersey and Texas (-4,100 jobs, -0.7%). Construction employment levels were unchanged for the month in Arkansas and Nebraska.

The highest percentage construction employment gains for the month occurred in Missouri (4.5%, 4,300 jobs), followed by Iowa (3.5%, 2,200 jobs) and Alaska (3.3%, 400 jobs). Missouri added the most jobs during the month, followed by Florida (4,200 jobs, 1.3%) and Michigan (2,700 jobs, 2.3%).

Association officials said that construction employment was suffering because of Washington’s failure to act on a range of tax, spending and infrastructure programs. They added that the political uncertainty wasn’t just affecting the public sector market, with construction firms reporting many private sector projects appear to be on hold until Congress sets tax rates, addresses the fiscal cliff and acts on vital infrastructure measures.

“A lot of businesses are wary of investing in new construction activity when they don’t know where the economy is heading or even what tax rates they will have to pay next year,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Economies don’t thrive amid uncertainty and inaction.”

 

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Construction Material Costs Jump For 2nd Month In A Row

 

Price spikes for several key construction materials in September threaten to push contractors out of business, according to an analysis of federal figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The recent surge comes despite mild year-over-year changes in materials prices overall.

“The latest surge in materials costs may push subcontractors and some general contractors into insolvency, following years of razor-thin margins and shrunken levels of activity,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the construction trade association. “Most contractors have no ability to pass on unexpected cost increases.”

The producer price index for inputs to construction — covering materials that go into every type of project, plus items consumed by contractors such as diesel fuel — increased 0.9% in both September and August, while the indexes that reflect what contractors would charge for their work were largely unchanged, the economist noted.

The price increases for materials follow several months of declining prices, so that the year-over-year change in the index for materials was a “deceptively mild 1.7%,” he added.

Simonson cited rising prices for a variety of essential construction materials as responsible for the recent spike. The price index for diesel fuel jumped 5.7% in September, following a leap of 8.7% in August.

Prices for copper and brass mill shapes climbed 3.6% in September. The indexes for aluminum mill shapes and lumber and plywood each rose 1.1% in the latest month, while the price of steel mill products increased 1.0%.

In contrast, the price indexes for finished nonresidential buildings, which measure what contractors estimate they would charge to put up new structures, as well as the indexes for subcontractors’ work, were mixed for the month, Simonson noted.

The index for new industrial buildings decreased 0.2% from August to September, while the index for new school construction slipped 0.1% for the month. The indexes for new office and warehouse construction were unchanged, as were indexes reflecting prices charged by concrete, electrical and plumbing contractors for new, repair and maintenance work on nonresidential buildings.

The index for roofing contractors was the only nonresidential building index to show an increase for the month: 0.3%.

Association officials said inadequate public investment in infrastructure is a major reason contractors are unable to recover costs. “With so few projects to bid on, contractors are offering their services with little or no margin to cover materials costs,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, noting that recent Census Bureau data showed a 3.5% drop in public construction spending from August 2011 to August 2012.

“Despite the tepid recover, the construction industry continues to suffer from tight margins and weak demand. That is why federal, state and local agencies must keep funding intact for construction, or they will have even worse problems with unemployment and shuttered businesses.”

 

 

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Metro Phoenix Ranks No. 3 Nationwide in Adding New Construction Jobs

Metro Phoenix added more new construction jobs during the past year than all but two other metro areas as employment in the local industry hit a 4-year high, according to an analysis released by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials noted, however, that the local construction industry employs less than half the people it did six years ago, and that at current rates of growth, it would take over a decade to return to 2006 levels.

“For an areas that was once the poster child for the construction downturn, Phoenix is finally heading in the right direction,” said Brian Turmail, spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. “Make no mistake, though, this area’s construction workforce is still just a fraction of what it was six years ago.”

Turmail said that Metro Phoenix added 6,300 construction jobs between August 2011 and August 2012, a 7% increase. He added that, out of the 337 metro areas the association tracks, only the Los Angeles and Houston areas added more construction jobs during the same time. There are 90,800 people working in construction in Metro Phoenix today, up from 84,500 a year ago.

Even though Metro Phoenix is adding new construction jobs, however, the years-long construction downturn that hit the Valley and the rest of the state has still eliminated more than half the construction jobs that existed in the area in 2006.

Turmail noted that Phoenix has lost 94,000 construction jobs since August 2006, a 51% decline. He added that across Arizona, over half of the 244,300 construction jobs that existed in June 2006 have disappeared.

The spokesman said that Phoenix was not alone in adding construction jobs during the past year. He noted that Tucson added 300 construction jobs during the past year, a 2% increase, while Yuma added 100, a 5% increase.

Nationwide, 130 out of 337 metro areas added new construction jobs between August 2011 and August 2012. But he cautioned that 164 metro areas lost construction jobs during the same time period while employment levels were stagnant in another 43 areas.

Turmail announced the new employment figures during a visit to a local construction career fair, where firms are working to encourage residents to consider construction careers. The industry association spokesman noted that construction work is a skills-based profession that requires training and practice.

He said that was why the association was working with its statewide building chapter, the Arizona Builders’ Alliance, and other groups to push education officials to support skills-based education programs locally and across the country.

“These programs give students another path to success by allowing them to learn essential skills while using their hands,” Turmail noted. “And they prepare them for the high-paying construction jobs that local firms are working to fill.”

 

Construction Employment

Construction Employment Declines In 165 Of 337 Metro Areas

Construction employment declined in 165 out of 337 metropolitan areas between July 2011 and July 2012, increased in 123 and was stagnant in 49, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials said that the new data comes out as many metro areas continue to struggle with constricting public sector budgets and uneven private sector growth.

“Construction employment is healthy in the handful of areas where private sector demand is on the rebound,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “However, construction employment in most metro areas is suffering from the effects of tepid private sector demand and shrinking public sector construction budgets.”

The largest job losses were in Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (-6,500 jobs, -5%); followed by Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (-6,100 jobs, -12%); Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. (-5,100 jobs, -8%); New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La. (-5,000 jobs, -16%) and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C. (-4,400 jobs, -12%). Springfield, Mass.-Conn. (-28%, -3,000 jobs) lost the highest percentage.

Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Anchorage, Alaska (-23%, -2,500 jobs); Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich. (-17%, -3,600 jobs) and Jackson, Miss. (-16%, -1,800 jobs).

Bakersfield-Delano, Calif., added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (23%, 3,200 jobs) followed by Yuba City, Calif. (18%, 300 jobs); El Centro, Calif. (15%, 200 jobs) and Pascagoula, Miss. (15%, 700 jobs). Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (7,700 jobs, 7%) added the most jobs.

Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale added 5,600 jobs, 7%.

Association officials cautioned that the growth in private sector construction activity taking place in some areas could be undermined by the threat of drastic tax increases next year. They urged Congress and the administration to work together to provide tax certainty while addressing chronic funding challenges for key infrastructure programs.

“Construction employment will suffer a significant blow if Washington gridlocks its way to another recession,” said the association’s chief executive officer, Stephen E. Sandherr. “Setting our fiscal house in order in a way that provides employers with predictable tax rates while allowing for needed infrastructure investments will boost employment in construction and many other sectors.”

Construction Employment

Construction Employment Declines In 31 States In Past Year; Arizona Gains 8,200 Jobs

Construction employment declined in 31 states from July 2011 to July 2012 and in 28 states in the past month, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data.

Arizona bucked the national trend, adding 8,200 jobs during that period and ranking No. 6 in construction jobs gained. It went from 111,800 jobs in July 2011 to 120,000 in July 2012.

Association officials noted that construction employment decreased in the majority of states as public construction funding continues to shrink, offsetting gains in homebuilding and nonresidential construction.

“Public construction cuts in particular are taking their toll on construction employment in many parts of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “With economic growth remaining sluggish, there is a chance construction employment will begin to slip in even more places.”

The economist said that among states losing construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-15.%, -2,200 jobs), followed by Mississippi (-10.8%, -5,300 jobs) and Arkansas (-10.4%, -4,900 jobs). Florida lost the most jobs (-16,900, -5.2%), followed by Illinois (-9,800, -5%) and Missouri (-9,500 jobs, -9.2%).

Simonson noted that 18 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between July 2011 and July 2012, while construction employment remained stagnant for the year in Hawaii. North Dakota added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (16%, 3,800 jobs), followed by D.C. (12.2%, 1,500 jobs) and Nebraska (10%, 4,100 jobs). California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (27,300, 5%), followed by Texas (22,900, 4.1%) and Indiana (9,300, 7.8%).

Arkansas had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-4.1%, -1,800 jobs), followed by Missouri (-3.8%, -3,700 jobs) and Montana (-3.5%, -900 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses in July occurred in Ohio (-4,300, -2.4%), followed by Missouri and New Jersey (-2,700, -2.2%).

Twenty states plus D.C. added construction jobs between June and July, while construction employment was stagnant for the month in Utah and Alaska. The highest percentage gains for the month occurred in Rhode Island (3.8%%, 600 jobs), followed by Hawaii (2.9%, 800 jobs) and West Virginia (2.6%, 900 jobs). New York added the most jobs during the month (2,700 jobs, 0.9%), followed by Indiana (2,400 jobs, 1.9%) and Oregon (1,200, 1.7%).

Association officials cautioned that construction employment would continue to suffer from the impact of ongoing cuts to public construction budgets. Worse, if economic growth slows as businesses worry about future tax uncertainty, private demand for construction is likely to lag. They urged officials in Washington to act quickly to provide employers with tax certainty and enact long-delayed infrastructure measures for water and other systems.

“The longer Washington waits to act on vital tax and infrastructure measures, the more construction workers will lose their jobs,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The best way to boost employment and help the economy is to invest in basics like clean water and set predictable tax rates.”

Construction Materials

Construction Materials Prices Post Rare Year-Over-Year Dip In July

The cost of key construction materials dropped for the third consecutive month in July, pushing down year-over-year prices for the first time since 2009, according to an analysis of producer price index figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

However, association officials warned that recent spikes in diesel fuel and steel prices may drive up the cost of construction again, and they urged lawmakers to invest in needed infrastructure projects promptly while prices remain low.

“This price decline may be the last, given the large jumps in diesel fuel and steel prices that have occurred or been announced since the Labor Department collected this producer price data in mid-July,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “If economic growth accelerates, we are likely to see an end to discounted prices for construction activity.”

The producer price index for inputs to construction — covering materials that go into every type of project, plus items consumed by contractors such as diesel fuel — decreased 0.7% in July and 0.6% from a year earlier, Simonson noted. The year-over-year decline was the first since November 2009, he added.

Simonson observed that falling prices for several key construction materials produced the latest monthly and year-to-year decreases. The price index for steel mill products tumbled 2.8% in July and 5.9% from a year ago. The index for diesel fuel fell 0.2% in July and 9.3% over 12 months.

The index for copper and brass mill shapes rose 0.5% for the month, but plunged 16% since July 2011. Aluminum mill products dropped in price by 1.3% over the month and 9.4% over 12 months.

A few materials posted substantial increases for the month and year, Simonson added. The index for gypsum products increased by 1.4% in June and 16% compared with June 2012, while the index for insulation materials climbed by 3.5% and 8.0%, respectively.

The price indexes for finished nonresidential buildings, which measure what contractors estimate they would charge to put up new structures, rose modestly both for the month and year-over-year, Simonson noted. The index for new industrial buildings posted a rise of 0.1% in July and 1.9% over 12 months.

The index for new office construction also rose 0.1% for the month and climbed 2.5% for the year. The index for new school construction was up 0.2% in July and 3.5% from a year ago. The price for new warehouse construction rose 0.5% for the month and 3.5% from June 2012.

Association officials called on Congressional leaders to complete action on long-delayed measures to invest in aging infrastructure like clean water systems. “Delaying infrastructure repairs will punish taxpayers and undermine economic growth,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Putting off needed rehabilitation and replacement of worn-out structures will only force taxpayers to pay more for the same amount of work.”

Construction Employment

Construction Employment Declines By 1,000 In July As Industry Unemployment Rate Tumbles To 12.3%

Construction employment declined by 1,000 in July even though the industry’s unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since 2008, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The sector’s unemployment rate has steadily declined since 2009 as hundreds of thousands of out-of-work construction workers have left the industry seeking other opportunities, the association’s economist cautioned.

“Employment levels in the construction industry have remained relatively stagnant for 2-½ years,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The declining unemployment rate has more to do with frustrated job seekers leaving the industry than it does any improvement in demand for construction work.”

Industry employment in July was 1,000 lower than in June and only 5,000, or 0.1 percent, higher than one year earlier, the economist noted. There are now 5.5M construction workers employed across the country. Simonson noted, however, that construction employment patterns have varied among different industry segments.

A booming apartment sector and a revival — at least for now — in single-family homebuilding led to monthly and year-over-year gains in residential construction employment, Simonson noted. He added that total residential construction employment increased by 2,700 or 0.1% for the month and 12,400 (0.6%) compared with July 2011 levels.

Nonresidential construction employment was mixed, reflecting gains in highway and private nonresidential activity that were offset by shrinking public investment in schools and other infrastructure, Simonson continued. He said total nonresidential construction employment edged down by 3,800 (-0.1%) from June to July and 6,900 (-0.2%) over 12 months.

Within the nonresidential category, heavy and civil engineering construction firms added 6,200 workers (0.7%) in July and 10,800 (1.3%) since July 2011. In contrast, nonresidential specialty trade contractors shed 9,500 jobs (-0.5%) for the month and 19,200 (-1.0%) over 12 months. Nonresidential building contractors had mixed results, losing 500 employees (-0.1%) in July and adding 1,500 (0.2%) over the year.

The 12.3% unemployment rate for former construction workers was well below the rate in July 2011 (13.6%), 2010 (17.3%) and 2009 (18.2%), Simonson noted. He added that over those three years nearly 700,000 experienced workers have found jobs in other industries, returned to school, retired or otherwise left the workforce.

Association officials noted the industry was continuing to suffer from weak demand caused by slowing private sector growth and declining public sector investments in construction. “As long as the economy remains stagnant, construction employment levels will remain flat,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

Construction Spending

Construction Spending Reaches Highest Level Since December 2009

Construction spending in June rose to a 2-1/2 year high as double-digit percentage increases in private residential and nonresidential construction more than offset an ongoing downturn in public construction, according to an analysis of new federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said they expect the disparity between private and public construction is likely to persist and urged policy makers to put more funding into infrastructure projects.

“The June spending gains come on top of upward revisions to May and April totals, reinforcing the notion that private construction is now growing consistently,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Even more encouraging, the improvement is showing up in a wide range of residential and nonresidential categories.”

Simonson noted that total construction spending gained 0.4% for the month and 7.0% year-over-year. Private nonresidential spending climbed for the fourth consecutive month and was 14% higher than in June 2011. Residential construction increased 1.3% for the month and 12% year-over-year, with new multifamily construction soaring 3.4% and 49%, respectively, and single-family homebuilding up 3.0% and 19%.

The construction economist said that five of the 11 private nonresidential categories in the Census Bureau’s monthly report registered double-digit percentage gains in spending from June 2011 to June 2012: power and energy construction (including oil and gas-related projects), 26%; hotels, 26%; manufacturing and educational, 19% apiece; and transportation (mainly trucking and rail facilities), 17%. There were also 7% year-over-year increases in health care, commercial (retail, warehouse and farm) and office construction.

Public construction spending appears to have stabilized in recent months but the June 2012 total was 3.7% less than a year earlier, Simonson noted. He said only two of the Census Bureau’s 13 public categories posted year-over-year increases.

“Private nonresidential and multifamily construction should continue to grow in the second half of 2012 and beyond,” Simonson predicted. “Single-family homebuilding also should top last year’s figures, although progress may not occur every month. As a result, total construction spending in 2012 will be positive for the year for the first time since 2007 even though public construction will remain in the doldrums.”

Association officials said construction growth will remain unbalanced, however, unless lawmakers enact more funding for essential water, wastewater and other infrastructure projects.

“Although Congress has kept highway spending from falling, other types of infrastructure, including our aging water systems, need attention,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “There is nothing to be gained from letting our infrastructure deteriorate further.”

Construction Employment - Welder

Construction Employment Up In 25 States; Arizona No. 3 On The List

Construction employment increased in just half the states plus the District of Columbia from June 2011 to June 2012, but declined in a slim majority of states in the past month, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (27,200, 5%), followed by Texas (24,400, 4.4%) and Arizona (11,200, 10.2%).

“The latest state data show again how fragile and fragmentary the construction recovery is,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Although private sector demand for structures has risen in most states, improvement in single-family homebuilding is spotty and public investment is shrinking.”

Simonson noted that 25 states and D.C. added construction jobs between June 2011 and June 2012, while construction employment fell in 25 states. D.C. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs for the year (17.8%, 2,100 jobs), followed by North Dakota (16.2%, 3,800 jobs) and Montana (14.6%, 3,300 jobs).

The economist said that among states that lost construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-20.5%, -3,200 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-11.1%, -10,200 jobs) and Mississippi (-9.7%, -4,700 jobs). Florida lost the most jobs (-24,600, -7.4%), followed by New York (-12,500, -4.1%), Wisconsin and Illinois (-9,900, -5.1%).

Less positively, only 18 states plus D.C. added construction jobs between May and June, while construction employment decreased in 27 states and held steady in five. The highest percentage gains for the month occurred in D.C. (7.8%, 1,000 jobs), followed by North Dakota (2.6%, 700 jobs) and Montana (2.4%, 600 jobs). Texas added the most jobs during the month (9,600, 1.7%), followed by California (8,100, 1.4%) and Ohio (3,500, 2%).

South Dakota had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-5.2%, -1,100 jobs), followed by Arkansas (-3.7%, -1,700 jobs) and Iowa (-3.4%, -2,300 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses in June occurred in Florida (-5,300, -1.7%), followed by Iowa and Massachusetts (-2,100, -2%).

Association officials warned that construction employment was likely to stagnate or shrink in more states if federal and state officials continue to cut investments in public infrastructure and buildings.

“Ongoing cuts to vital infrastructure, school and university investments are hurting the overall economy, our future competitiveness and causing hardship for too many construction workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Budget discipline should not come at the expense of slashing essential investments.”

Administration Officials - Hiring Quotas

Administration Officials Underestimated Cost Of New Hiring Quotas For Federal Construction Contractors

Administration officials significantly underestimated the cost to construction employers of proposed new hiring quotas for federal contractors according to a new analysis released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. According to the analysis, a proposed new hiring quota for the disabled would cost employers 30 times more than officials predict while a new hiring quota for veterans would cost employers 20 times more than originally estimated.

“The administration has grossly underestimated the financial and administrative burdens that these new rules would impose, particularly on small businesses,” said Brian Turmail, the association’s spokesperson. “If the proposed rules take effect, many small construction firms may no longer be able to afford to work on federal projects.”

Turmail noted that the administration’s proposal to force federal contractors to make sure that 7% of their workers in each job category are disabled would cost construction firms $14,056 per year for each of their office locations, 30 times higher than the $473 compliance cost the administration officials suggested in thier proposed rules. In addition, employers would have to spend at least 1,444 hours per office location complying with the new rule, 185 times longer than the 7.8 hours federal administration officials estimated.

The spokesperson added that the administration official’s proposed veterans hiring quota would cost construction firms a minimum of $11,333 per year per office location, 25 times more than the $560 estimated by the Department of Labor. That rule would also force construction employers to spend at least 1,267 hours per year per office site to comply, 140 times longer than the nine hours Labor officials originally suggested.

Turmail noted that the added burden the new rules would impose on firms, when combined with the cost of complying with other regulations would likely be too much to bear for many small firms considering working on federal projects.

The analysis was based on detailed evaluations of the hiring quotas conducted by construction firms that would be covered by the rule. Association officials added that the new rules aren’t even needed, considering federal data indicates contractors are already doing everything within their power to hire people with disabilities and veterans.

The current unemployment rates for people with disabilities and veterans – which the Department cites to justify its new quotas – are lower than for construction workers.

The proposed new rules require firms to meet sweeping new reporting requirements, establish formal partnership agreements with community outreach programs to help with recruiting, and put in place new training programs, among other costly new measures.

If firms fail to meet the “goals” set out in the two proposed rules, they face federal audits and potential debarment from working on future federal contracts.

Reviving the Construction Industry

Plan to Revive Construction Industry Unveiled

The Associated General Contractors of America released a new national plan today detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction. Officials said the plan was needed to reverse construction employment declines that have taken place in 317 out of 337 metro areas since January 2007, according to new data the association released today.

“Our goal is to rebuild a devastated construction market that has left millions jobless, littered cities with incomplete projects and sapped much needed revenue, commerce and customers out of our economy,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Considering the scope and impact of construction job losses, the last thing any of us can afford is a repeat of the past four years.”

The plan, called “Building a Stronger Future, A New Blueprint for Economic Growth,” outlines measures to help boost private sector demand for construction, help tackle a growing infrastructure maintenance backlog and reduce needless red tape and regulations. Sandherr said the association developed the plan to overcome the years-long construction downturn that has left over 2.2 million construction workers unemployed and the industry’s unemployment rate at 21.8 percent, more than twice the national average.

Sandherr released the plan and the new employment figures, during a visit to Phoenix,  which has lost more construction jobs – 91,400 – than any other metro area since the start of the construction downturn in January 2007, a 54 percent decline. Nationwide, 28 cities lost 50 percent or more of their construction jobs, including Boise, Idaho; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Medford, Ore.; and Merced, Calif., Sandherr noted.

The metro areas that lost the most construction jobs during the past four years, besides Phoenix, included Las Vegas (-61,900 jobs, -61 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-57,700 jobs, -51 percent); the Atlanta area (-57,700 jobs, -42 percent); and the Los Angeles area (-56,200 jobs, -37 percent).

Lake Havasu City-Kingman (-65 percent, -4,200 jobs) and Bend, Ore. (-65 percent, -5,200 jobs) lost the highest percentage of construction jobs of any metro area. They were followed by St. George, Utah (-62 percent, -5,200 jobs); Las Vegas; and Naples, Fla. (-61 percent, -13,700 jobs).

Only 14 metro areas added construction jobs during the past four years, while employment levels were unchanged in another six. The five metro areas with the largest construction employment gains were all in Texas: Beaumont-Port Arthur (3,400 jobs, 21 percent); Longview (3,100 jobs, 26 percent); Midland (2,100 jobs, 15 percent); El Paso (1,900 jobs, 14 percent); and Odessa (1,800 jobs, 17 percent).

Pascagoula, Miss., experienced the highest percentage increase in construction employment (47 percent, 1,600 jobs) during the past four years. Other metro areas adding a high percentage of construction jobs included Longview; Beaumont-Port Arthur; Lawton, Okla. (20 percent, 300 jobs); and Odessa.

“In too many metro areas, the construction industry is a mere shadow of what it was just four years ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, who prepared the new employment analysis. “This new data should make it pretty clear that the sector’s revival is anything but guaranteed.”

Sandherr said the recovery plan emphasizes boosting private sector demand, which once accounted for 76 percent of all construction activity, but now accounts for only 60 percent. It calls for approving pending trade agreements to boost demand for manufacturing and shipping facilities, repealing the alternative minimum tax and making permanent the tax cuts that were first put in place in 2001 and 2003.

The plan also identifies new tax credits to encourage retail and restaurant upgrades, improve the efficiency of commercial buildings and help contractors invest in new, more efficient construction equipment. And it urges Congress and the Administration to finally end the double taxation of U.S-based businesses that succeed in international markets.

Sandherr noted the plan includes measures to tackle infrastructure problems that cost American businesses an estimated $100 billion a year due to delays and lost productivity. It calls for significant reforms to federal surface, aviation and waterways programs. And it urges federal officials to refocus on efforts that are clearly in the national interest, streamline the years-long federal review process, and find new ways to leverage private sector dollars.

Sandherr added that the plan also includes comprehensive measures to reduce costly, time consuming and needless regulatory burdens. It calls on Congress to pass legislation limiting major new regulations, reform the approval process for new highway and transit projects and oppose well-meaning labor and Buy American mandates that do little to create new jobs and a lot to add costs and delay work.

The plan also highlights the need to repeal a costly new mandate set to begin next year that requires governments at all levels to withhold three percent of the cost of virtually all major construction projects from contractors. “For an industry where most firms are lucky to make three percent in profit on a project, this new mandate will either put a lot of people out of work or needlessly inflate the cost of public construction,” Sandherr cautioned.

Green Ideas Construction, green building opportunities, LEED

Strategies For Capturing Green Building Opportunities

In the early days of green building, some contractors differentiated their companies with marketing claims that highlighted the number of LEED Accredited Professionals on staff. Although many of them had little or no actual experience with LEED-certified projects, a phrase added to a statement of qualifications document — such as, “We have 30 LEED APs on our team” — was enough to help win projects. That is no longer the case.

Many contractors now have multiple LEED APs on staff, so it is no longer a differentiator. Owners are now more sophisticated and informed about what green building really means. In the future, this fundamental strategy will become harder to keep in effect as continuing education requirements are introduced that require ongoing education in order to keep an individual’s LEED accreditation current.

In order to secure green building projects in the future, contractors will have to get creative in demonstrating their commitment to sustainability in more specific and credible terms. There are two key strategies that successful market-ready contractors should implement in order to remain competitive.

Green Building Manual
Creating a simple green building manual is an easy way for a contractor to show prospective clients that they have thought through the green building process. It can also be an effective way to demonstrate the specifics of how the contractor will go about constructing a green building if done properly. Effective green building manuals should include, at a minimum:

* Sustainable office operations document.
* An environmental impact statement and policy.
* Construction activity pollution prevention program.
* Construction waste management policy.
* Indoor air quality — during construction policy.
* Material sourcing and purchasing policy.

Environmental Management System
Over the last decade the Associated General Contractors of America has actively promoted and encouraged its members to develop a comprehensive Environmental Management System (EMS), but relatively few have actually developed an EMS or even an effective alternative way to manage their regulatory responsibilities. In its basic form, an effective EMS for a contractor or construction manager would include the following elements:

* Incorporate appropriate measurements for various site practices.
* Establish a template for EMS reporting (measurement and accounting) on all projects.
* Provide employees on all projects with access to federal, state and local standards, and regulations pertaining to each project.
* Incorporate the desired green building or LEED standard credits into each project.
* Provide the necessary tools to efficiently supply clients with a comprehensive list of project-specific environmental accomplishments and EMS performance data.
* Provide data for use in the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report.

Of course, every Environmental Management System will be different as business, marketing, financial and environmental goals vary from company to company. However, the end result of the EMS for all firms should be:

* Reduction of fines and penalties.
* Compliance with environmental regulations.
* Establishment of the contractor as a premier environmental contractor.
* Capability to populate reports with project-specific environmental documentation.
* A satisfied client that will hire your company again.

An effective EMS program should also be accompanied by a communications program, in order to demonstrate to the world the company’s commitment to the EMS program and corresponding results to the business community. Marketing a company’s core competencies is integral to securing future work, so the communications program should differentiate the firm from competitors, show example CSR Reports and communicate competence to deliver LEED projects.

Additionally, the federal government (GSA) is beginning to require contractors to have an EMS in place in order to qualify for government work, and many states are beginning to do the same.

In order to secure more green building projects in the future — whether they are LEED, Green Globes or some other certification — construction managers, general contractors and specialty contractors will need to be proactive in order to demonstrate their understanding and commitment to sustainability. A comprehensive EMS program that contains sustainable construction means and methods elements is a sure way to show prospective clients how the company can help achieve green building goals on time, within budget and in a manner that is truly sustainable.

Green Iconwww.egreenideas.com

Construction at an All Time Low

National Construction Employment Near 14-Year Low

The number of people working in construction is approaching a 14-year low now that the industry lost 21,000 jobs in September, while construction unemployment is at a September high of 17.2 percent, according to an analysis of federal employment figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The construction industry continues to suffer from declining investments in construction and broad uncertainty about the future of many federal infrastructure programs and tax rates, association officials noted.

“It has taken less than four years to erase a decade’s worth of job gains as the industry suffers from declining private, state and local construction demand,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “No other sector of the economy has suffered as much for as long as construction.”

Simonson noted that the 5.6 million people working in construction today is barely higher than the 5.59 million people who were working in construction in August 1996. He added that construction employment continued to lag behind other sectors of the economy. For example, while total private employment rose by 593,000 during the past 12 months, the construction industry lost 210,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the industry’s unemployment rate is nearly double the unadjusted national rate of 9.2 percent.

Most of September’s construction job losses came from the nonresidential sector as demand for commercial facilities and infrastructure projects remains weak, Simonson noted. Residential construction lost 2,500 jobs last month while nonresidential construction lost 18,100 jobs. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors were the hardest hit, having lost 19,500 jobs in September, the economist added.

Association officials noted that construction spending figures released late last month show private, state and local construction spending continues to decline. And while federal spending has increased, most of those investments have come from temporary programs like the stimulus and military base realignment programs.

While these temporary federal programs have helped the industry, many contractors are reluctant to expand payrolls while long-term federal programs that fund highway, transit, water system and aviation related construction remain in limbo, association officials said. They added that most contractors don’t even know what their tax rates will be for next year.

“Construction firms aren’t going to start hiring again until they can predict how busy they’ll be,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Frankly it is hard for contractors to make any business decisions when they don’t know how much they’ll make or how much they’ll owe.”


Flagstaff lost the highest percentage of construction jobs

Flagstaff Tops The Nation In Percentage of Construction Jobs Lost

Flagstaff lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between July 2009 and July of this year, as 276 of 337 metro areas nationally saw declines, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

Flagstaff lost 700 construction jobs, a 32 percent dip from last year. The Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area lost the most construction jobs — 32,900, or 23 percent.

Statewide, Arizona lost 13,900 construction jobs (down 114,000 from 128,000), an 11 percent decrease. It was a decrease of 54 percent from the state’s peak in 2006, according to the AGCA.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area lost 8,600 construction jobs (down 86,600 from 95,200), a 9 percent loss; and Tucson lost 2,300 construction jobs (down 14,200 from 16,500), for a 14 percent dip. Yuma fared the best, experiencing just a 7 percent loss.

The employment figures, based on an analysis of federal employment data, demonstrate the widespread decline in demand for construction services that continues to outpace stimulus-funded work, association officials say.

“There is no doubt that we have seen an increase in stimulus activity this summer,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, that increase in stimulus activity is largely being overshadowed by continuing declines in overall demand for construction that are likely to persist well into next year.”

Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment are: Las Vegas (14,800 jobs, 24 percent); Houston (14,700 jobs, 8 percent); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale (10,700 jobs, 9 percent); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (10,400 jobs, 14 percent).

Simonson says that 31 metro areas actually added construction jobs over the past 12 months, while another 30 areas experienced no change in construction employment.

The construction economist said the impacts of the stimulus can be seen in the fact that many of the construction employment declines metro areas are experiencing are less severe than just a month ago. The year-over-year construction employment declines in cities such as Las Vegas, Houston and Seattle are less severe than the figures recorded in June, Simonson adds. However, he says that too few cities were adding construction jobs to have any widespread impact on construction employment.

“As much as we would hate to see how much worse the construction employment figures would be without the stimulus, the fact is our industry is continuing to suffer even as some areas of the economy have begun to expand,” says Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “And with regular, long-term infrastructure bills stalled in Congress, it looks like construction workers will have little opportunity to continue rebuilding our economy.”