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Proposed Senate Climate Bill Undermines Efforts To Build Greener Structures And Make Infrastructure More Efficient
By Establishing New Regulatory Obstacles and Robbing Transportation Funds, Bill Will Make it More Difficult to Cut Pollution and Emissions from Built Environment, Contractors’ Group Says

“Improving the efficiency of our built environment – including commercial buildings, transportation infrastructure and water systems – presents one of the greatest opportunities to reduce power consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions. After all, the nation’s building inventory accounts for 35 percent of the nation’s manmade greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 40 percent of the nation’s energy, while our aging and inefficient transportation network accounts for another 27 percent of energy consumption and 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Despite this tremendous opportunity, Senators Kerry and Lieberman have proposed legislation that makes it harder to construct new, more energy efficient buildings and factories, improve aging infrastructure and eliminate the traffic congestion that wastes fuel and pollutes our environment. By allowing the EPA a virtually free hand to approve or deny construction and rehabilitation projects, the bill creates regulatory obstacles that will raise construction costs, delay projects and stifle demand. Worse, by taking funds raised through the proposal’s new transportation fees and committing all but a small percentage to unrelated spending, the legislation leaves our aging and inefficient roads, airways and transit systems vastly underfunded.

“The inevitable consequences of this bill are higher taxes, fewer jobs, and continued reliance on wasteful buildings, inefficient infrastructure and leaky water systems. Stifling economic growth and neglecting our primary environmental challenges is not an effective way to address climate change. Instead, Congress and the Administration should focus on the measures we identify in our “Building a Green Future” plan.

“Our green construction plan identifies steps public officials, developers, and the construction community must take to lessen the impact of our built environment. Measures in the plan include doubling existing energy efficiency tax credits for commercial buildings; passing the Building Star program that invests $6 billion in improving the efficiency of commercial buildings; and speeding reviews and boosting tax credits for green building projects.

“The plan also calls for public building projects to incorporate state-of-the-art environmental solutions and for the federal government to make pragmatic investments in research and technology. It makes it easier to launch new transit projects, shifts cargo traffic to energy efficient barges and accelerates federal approval for new transportation projects in congested corridors. And it calls for making the level of transportation investments virtually every expert agrees are needed to improve capacity and reduce traffic.

“What the Senators appear to have forgotten is you can’t simply regulate a greener future, you have to build it,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America.

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Construction Industry Adds Another 14,000 Jobs In April As The Number And Scope Of Stimulus-Funded Projects Continues To Grow
Industry’s Recovery Remains Tentative with Unemployment at 21.8 Percent, Stimulus Funding Likely to Expire Before Private-Sector Construction Demand Resumes, Economist Notes

Construction firms added 14,000 new jobs in April, the second consecutive month of employment gains for the industry, according to an analysis of new federal figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. After more than two years of dramatic job losses, the construction industry is once again adding jobs, thanks primarily to the increasing number of stimulus-funded projects now underway, the association noted.

“As today’s report makes clear, the impacts of the stimulus are now being felt across a much broader section of the construction industry,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The good news is the stimulus is for now turning the tide on construction employment; the bad news is the stimulus is temporary while the construction downturn will be protracted.”

Simonson noted that the construction industry has added 40,000 new jobs since February. Those increases follow more than three years of employment declines that cost over 2 million construction workers their jobs. Even after the two months of job growth, the industry’s unemployment rate was 21.8 percent, more than twice the national average and the highest April rate since the series began in 1976.

The economist said the job growth appears driven by the stimulus, noting that construction firms are reporting a surge in projects funded by the Recovery Act. He added that the nonresidential construction sector, where most stimulus construction funds were targeted, added 24,600 jobs in April and 36,500 jobs in March. Heavy and civil engineering construction, which includes highway and many public works projects that benefitted from the stimulus, alone added 9,000 new jobs last month, the fourth pickup in the past six months.

Simonson cautioned that stimulus funding for construction was likely to end before private-sector and state and local government demand for construction resumes, citing high vacancy rates and declining tax receipts. He said enacting the long-delayed highway and aviation bills, passing the Water Resources Development Act and the Building Star legislation, establishing a Clean Water Trust Fund and National Infrastructure Bank and keeping tax rates unchanged were the best way to avoid post-stimulus job losses in the construction industry.

“Without long-term federal investment programs in place, construction employment is likely to suffer significant new declines once the stimulus runs its course,” Simonson noted. “The best way to build on today’s momentum is by enacting the long-term investment programs that are crucial to the nation’s continued economic prosperity.”

Read Ken Simonson’s comments on the latest jobs figure.

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Cold Spring Granite Offers Library of BIM Families Online

Cold Spring Granite – the leading quarrier and fabricator of dimensional or “cut-to-size” stone in North America – has announced the creation of a vast online library of Building Information Modeling (BIM) families.

BIM, the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle, typically involves the use of 3D real-time software, such as the industry-leading Autodesk Revit. In response to the growth of BIM and with more product information becoming readily available in a BIM format, Cold Spring Granite has assembled their products in Revit families.

“With increased collaboration of designers, constructors, suppliers and manufacturers earlier in the design and construction process, the trend is heading toward making specific product selections sooner rather than later,” said Jeanne Ver Dugt, Drafting Supervisor. “Cold Spring Granite’s families will help meet the need for technical product information faster.”

Cold Spring Granite established functional details and parameters in the created models such as sizes, height and slope. This information can be taken directly from the project and incorporated into the production tickets to streamline the manufacturing process.

“This will further enhance our efficiency as a supplier,” said Tim Feldhege, Drafting Manager. “We’ve been careful to keep our family files to a manageable enough size for practical use by architects and general contractors.”

While acknowledging the importance of universal accessibility to a basic family and type catalog, Cold Spring Granite also recognizes the appeal of utilizing this information from a design perspective. Enhanced files, featuring the addition of color and finish combinations for rendering, are also available on the Cold Spring Granite website. The ability to add color and texture during the early stages of the design process has been met with favorable feedback from the market.

Cold Spring Granite’s BIM object families are available in Revit 2010 format on the company’s website and currently include family details such as stone wall facings, anchors, thresholds, floors, coping, and sills. Architects will find both 3D versions for their models and 2D for their drawings. As such, the families offer ease of use for the design process.

“In our family files, we included essential product information such as CSI MasterFormat Section number, the OmniClass Construction Classification (a system used for applications ranging from organizing library materials, product literature, and project information to providing a classification structure for electronic databases), and contact information,” said Ver Dugt. “As architects use our families, they can identify data on available colors and recommended thicknesses and will find links back to the Cold Spring Granite website for more information.”

Additional stone information, such as panel sizes, weight and test data can be found on the Cold Spring Granite website. Currently, Cold Spring Granite has 20 families, with approximately 50 more building product models in the works.

With the ability to access Autodesk certified BIM object families, architects will possess reliable information they can use with confidence. In addition, architects can expect complete and open interoperability from Cold Spring Granite BIM families.

“Architects will be able to use our BIM objects to specify piece sizes or make adjustments,” said Feldhege. “If their requirements go beyond the parameters of what we’ve established, we can work together to make changes and adjustments specific to the project.”

To view Cold Spring Granite’s BIM Families, visit http://www.coldspringgranite.com/Products-Colors-Finishes/Architectural/#bim.

For more than 100 years, Cold Spring Granite has been the leading quarrier and fabricator of natural stone in North America. Headquartered in Cold Spring, Minnesota, the company has more than 900 employees in five domestic manufacturing locations.

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TNR Industrial Doors, Inc. Announces That It Has Reached Agreement For CIW Enterprises, Inc. To Distribute Industrial Rubber Doors Line In The United States

TNR Industrial Doors, Inc., a manufacturer and global distributor of high performance doors, is pleased to announce that it has reached agreement for CIW Enterprises, Inc. to distribute TNR’s full line of industrial rubber doors in the United States.

Under its Cookson and Cornell Iron Works brand names, this agreement affords CIW Enterprises, Inc. the opportunity to better meet its customer’s productivity needs by providing rugged, high performance closure solutions designed for the most punishing applications. The agreement will also help enhance the coverage and penetration of TNR’s distribution network to better serve the international building industry.

The TNR, Cookson and Cornell companies are all very excited about the extraordinary opportunity that this agreement creates. “This will allow TNR to solidify its position as the industry’s leading provider of high performance rubber doors,” says TNR President Cathy Buckingham. “We are prepared to further accelerate our growth, while still providing an unmatched level of quality and service to our distributors and customers.”

Headquartered in Barrie, Ontario, the team at TNR Industrial Doors, Inc. has over 100 years of combined industrial and commercial roll-up door experience. 60 years of that experience has been specifically devoted to engineering and applications problem solving for the new generation of heavy-duty industrial rubber doors.

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Simpson Strong-Tie Expands its Offering of Fasteners

Since fasteners are vital to the performance of connectors, it’s not surprising Simpson Strong-Tie has been a part of the fastener industry for many years. Today the company strengthens its fastener product offering with a new and extensive line of premium stainless-steel fasteners. Designed for outdoor applications, the new stainless-steel fastener line includes nails and screws for decking, siding, roofing, framing and finish work.

Simpson Strong-Tie has been able to deepen its fastener offering since acquiring Swan Secure Fasteners in 2007. The new line of stainless-steel fasteners provides superior corrosion resistance, strength and durability, and is now fully integrated under the Simpson Strong-Tie brand. Customers can expect to see newly packaged stainless-steel hand-drive nails and screws, stainless-steel staples, brads and collated nails, and other corrosion-resistant fasteners.

“Our new offering of premium fasteners is a natural line extension for us,” said Mike Bugbee, senior vice president – fasteners. “It complements our expanding line of structural fasteners as well as our Quik Drive fastening systems.”

Simpson Strong-Tie is well known for its innovations in structural fasteners, including a few most recent additions, the Strong-Drive® SD structural-connector screw, SDW screw for multi-ply trusses and SDS screw in stainless steel. The company also is recognized for bringing new technology to fastening systems with its offering of Quik Drive® auto-feed screw driving systems and collated screws. For more information about the entire line of Simpson Strong-Tie fasteners, visit www.strongtie.com/fasten.

About Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc.
For more than 50 years, Simpson Strong-Tie has focused on creating structural products that help people build safer and stronger homes and buildings. Considered a leader in structural systems research and testing, Simpson Strong-Tie® products are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, anchors and lateral-force resisting systems in the world. Product lines include structural connectors, Wood and Steel Strong-Wall® prefabricated shearwalls, Anchor Tiedown Systems (ATS) for multi-story buildings and Strong Frame™ moment frames. Additional product lines include Quik Drive® auto-feed screw driving systems, structural and corrosion-resistant fasteners, and Simpson Strong-Tie Anchor Systems® – anchors and fasteners for concrete and masonry. Simpson Strong-Tie is committed to providing exceptional products and service to its customers, including engineering and field support, product testing and training. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.strongtie.com.

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Cement Industry Expects Period of Sustained Growth
Gains to materialize in second half of 2010

Expected increases in public construction activities will pave the way for improved cement consumption in 2010 and beyond, according the most recent economic forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA).

In 2010, PCA anticipates a modest five percent increase in consumption over severely depressed 2009 levels. The three to five million metric tons gain in cement use will materialize during the second half of the year. A 13.3 percent jump is predicted for 2011, followed by an 18.7 percent increase in 2012.

“The 2010 recovery in cement consumption lays largely on expectations for public construction activity,” Edward Sullivan, PCA chief economist said. “Spending from the stimulus bill will more than double to $12 billion and that spending is expected to reflect an increased share of major highway construction and bridge projects—high cement-intensive projects.”

Although nonresidential sectors like oil and farm construction contribute to the 2010 cement consumption increase, consumption accrued to commercial building will decline 29 percent on top of a 38-year low reached in 2009. The residential sector is expected to become a modest contributor to growth during 2010 – something that has not materialized since 2005.

“The economy is recovering and improving its core fundamentals. However, recovery for the construction markets will be slowed by the continuation of tight lending conditions, high foreclosure rates and weak job markets,” Sullivan said.

About PCA
Based in Skokie, Ill., the Portland Cement Association represents cement companies in the United States and Canada. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. More information on PCA programs is available at www.cement.org.

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Stimulus, Other Public Infrastructure Investments Give Monthly Boost To National Construction Spending Figures In March
2.3 Percent Increase in Public Spending Outweighs 0.9 Percent Drop in Private Construction Activity to Boost Overall Construction Spending Between February and March

Increases in public-sector construction spending, driven by stimulus funds, helped boost total construction activity by almost $2 billion between February and March, according to a new analysis of federal spending figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. The figures show that the stimulus has gone from slowing declines in construction spending to contributing to increases, the association noted.

“If it weren’t for public investments in infrastructure and construction, this industry would be in free fall,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Fortunately, the stimulus is now helping rebuild a construction industry devastated by relentless declines in private-sector activity.”

Simonson noted that the new Census Bureau figures show construction spending at an annualized rate of $847.3 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent from $845.5 in February. While private sector construction spending still dominates the market, it declined 0.9 percent between February and March, from $555.7 to $550.8 billion. The largest declines came in communications (12.1 percent), lodging (4.6 percent) and power (3.8 percent) construction, Simonson added.

Public-sector construction, meanwhile, increased 2.3 percent from $289.9 to $296.5 billion during the same time frame. The largest increases came in publicly-funded power (23.7 percent), transportation (12.4 percent) and water supply (5.9 percent) construction. Simonson noted that these areas and others showing increases received significant funding from last year’s stimulus law.

Association officials cautioned that the increases in construction spending were unlikely to last once the stimulus runs its course. They noted that high office and retail vacancy rates, and underutilized manufacturing capacity indicate private sector construction will continue to decline through at least the end of the year. They added that cash-strapped state and local governments won’t be able to broadly increase capital programs until at least 2012.

“With no transportation bill, no aviation legislation and no water trust fund, the only thing waiting for this industry after the stimulus is a funding cliff,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If things don’t change soon, all the stimulus will have been was a really expensive way to delay hardships and layoffs for thousands of construction workers.”

Get more information about the latest construction spending figures.

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New DORMA eLearning Site Offers Continuing Education Credits For Architects, Others

DORMA Architectural Hardware’s new “DORMA eLearning” site (www.DORMAe-learning.com) offers a convenient, online platform for learning about architectural hardware and obtaining continuing education credits through the American Institute of Architects (AIA). DORMA is a registered provider with the American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Systems, All courses meet health, safety, welfare and sustainable design requirements.

Successful completion of each 45- to 60-minute program will earn architects one LU toward maintaining their certification as a registered architect. Earned credits will be reported automatically to AIA’s CES records. Certificates of completion will be mailed to AIA members as well. Non-AIA members can receive certificates upon request for self reporting.

The classes provide essential information about architectural hardware to help the building team make informed decisions about product selection and performance. The programs are suitable for use by other members of the building team (including end-users) in addition to hardware sales representatives and distributors.

Two programs for AIA credit are available on the site now. DORMA plans to have eight credit programs available by year-end. In addition, a non-credit DORMA-specific class provides an overview of the company, its products and its services to familiarize the participant with the wealth of offerings available.

About DORMA Group North America
DORMA Group North America manufactures and markets a wide range of products for the architectural openings industry, with a particular focus on commercial and institutional openings. Part of The DORMA Group worldwide, DORMA Group North America comprises DORMA Architectural Hardware, DORMA Glas, Modernfold, DORMA Canada, DORMA Mexico, and DORMA Entrance Systems -- which markets products and services under the DORMA Automatics, Crane Revolving Door and Carolina Door Controls brands.

DORMA Group North America offerings include safety and security products, locks, door closers, exit devices, glass hardware and patch fittings, sliding and swinging automatic doors, revolving doors and operable partitions.

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American Institute of Architects (AIA) Announces Contract Document Software Compatibility with Microsoft Windows 7
AIA is the Only Standard Contract Documents Publisher Accepted by
Microsoft as Fully Compatible with Windows

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced that AIA Contract Document software is now compatible with Microsoft® Windows® 7, the successor of the Windows Vista operating system. AIA Contract Documents software is the only standard contract documents publisher in the U.S. for the design and construction industry that is accepted by the Microsoft Corporation as fully compatible with Windows, including Windows 7. AIA Contract Documents is also compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000, XP and Vista, as well as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel® versions 2003 and 2007 and Adobe Acrobat 5.1 or higher.

“AIA Contract Documents software offers the design and construction industry the easiest to use software, saving users valuable time and money,” said Molly Lindblom, Managing Director at AIA Contract Documents. “AIA Contract Documents software users have long enjoyed Windows® compatibility, and we are excited that users can now quickly and easily access and download the software while enjoying all the benefits of Windows 7.”

AIA Contract Document software was self-tested using a custom Microsoft application specifically designed to examine numerous aspects of the application and how it was developed. After passing various tests, the software was certified and approved for Windows 7 compatibility.

More information about AIA Contract Documents can be found at www.aia.org/contractdocs. AIA Contract Documents software can be purchased at www.aia.org/contractdocs/purchase. Documents in paper form are available through the AIA’s full service distributors. For a listing of full service distributors and pricing information, please visit www.aia.org/docs_purchase.

Microsoft, Windows, Word and Excel are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. By using sustainable design practices, materials and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit www.aia.org/walkthewalk.

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Continued Upward Trend in Architecture Billings Index
Highest reading from architects since August 2008

On the heels of a more than two point gain in February, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was up again in March. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI rating was 46.1, up from a reading of 44.8 the previous month. Though this score reflects a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings), it is the highest score since August 2008. The new projects inquiry index was 58.5.

“This is certainly an encouraging sign that we could be moving closer to a recovery phase, even though we continue to hear about mixed conditions across the country,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Firms are still reporting an unusual amount of variation in the level of demand for design services, from improving to poor to virtually non-existent. This increasing volatility is often a sign that overall business conditions may begin to change in the coming months.”

Key March ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Midwest (50.5), Northeast (47.0), West (46.0), South (44.4)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (47.3), institutional (46.8), mixed practice (45.0), commercial / industrial (44.7)
  • Project inquiries index: 58.5

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index is derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey and produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group. Based on a comparison of data compiled since the survey’s inception in 1995 with figures from the Department of Commerce on Construction Put in Place, the findings amount to a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly survey sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended. According to the proportion of respondents choosing each option, a score is generated, which represents an index value for each month. The regional and sector data is formulated using a three-month moving average.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit www.aia.org

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Garland Introduces Applicator-Friendly Reflective Coating

High-performance roofing manufacturer, The Garland Company, Inc., has extended its reflective product line with a new, applicator-friendly base coat solution that is durable, environmentally friendly, versatile, and easy to apply. Having a natural buff color, Pyramic® Base Coat allows the applicator to see where the base and finish coats have been applied, providing a fail-safe method for ensuring proper coverage. Unlike solvent-based coatings, the new Pyramic Base Coat is a water-based, pure acrylic, self-curing latex polymer. It can be applied over BUR, modified bitumen, and asphalt emulsion coated surfaces to improve the application surface for reflective topcoats such as Garland’s Solex® and Pyramic coatings.

According to Tom Stuewe, product manager for Garland coatings, "Whether you apply this versatile product with brush, roller, or spray, you can put the reflective coat on top of it within four to eight hours. Pyramic Base Coat provides superb protection against UV, cracking, shrinking, and surface erosion, while blocking the asphalt oils from discoloring the top coat." Stuewe reports that the finished, highly reflective system can reduce rooftop temperatures by 50 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (10°-27°C) compared to traditional solutions. In addition, the entire Pyramic reflective coating product line conforms to ASTM E 108 fire rating standards.

In addition to their rooftop performance advantages, the family of water-based Pyramic coatings offers several attractive benefits for applicators and for building occupants, including, reduced VOC’s for environmentally friendly application; the elimination of flammable fumes, unpleasant odors, and toxicity; and a shorter application window to help minimize occupant disruption.

For more information please contact 1-800-321-9336 or visit www.garlandco.com.

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Maryland Adds 5,200 Construction Jobs As Sector Employment Increases In 26 States, Dc From February To March 2010
Industry’s Challenges Remain Severe as Arkansas & North Dakota Are Only States to Add Construction Jobs between March 2009 and 2010, As California Lost Nearly 108,500 Jobs

Construction employment expanded in 26 states and the District of Columbia between February and March 2010, yet only Arkansas and North Dakota have more construction workers than they did a year ago according to a new analysis of federal employment figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. The new figures, while offering room for optimism, underscore how far the industry is from a recovery, association officials said.

“It’s too early to tell whether these numbers reflect the start of a positive trend, or the impact of a warm March following a snowy February,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Even assuming the numbers are heading in the right direction, it is a long climb just to get back to normal for the construction industry.”

Simonson noted that between February and March 2010, 26 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs. Maryland added the most jobs (5,200, 3.7 percent); followed by Pennsylvania (4,900, 2.3 percent); New York (4,300, 1.4 percent); Missouri (4,100, 4.1 percent); and Indiana (3,500, 3.1 percent). During the same period, 22 states lost jobs, and construction employment was unchanged in two states. Texas lost the most jobs (6,300, 1.1 percent); followed by Louisiana (5,200, 4.1 percent); Nevada (4,600, 6.7 percent); Arizona (2,900, 2.5 percent); and Colorado (2,600, 2.3 percent).

The state construction employment picture is significantly bleaker when measured between March 2009 and 2010, Simonson cautioned. He said that 48 states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs over the past year, while only Arkansas (300, 0.6 percent) and North Dakota (100, 0.5 percent) added construction jobs. The construction economist added that 28 states experienced double-digit percentage declines in construction employment over the past year.

Among the states losing construction jobs last year, California (108,500, 16.3 percent) lost the most; followed by Florida (57,000, 13.7 percent); Illinois (32,800, 14.2 percent); Washington (31,200, 18.4 percent); and Ohio (29,400, 15.2 percent). Nevada (30.0 percent, 27,400 jobs) and Colorado (20.3 percent, 28,600 jobs) experienced the highest percentage declines in construction employment over the past year.

Association officials said they expected stimulus-funded construction work to provide a needed boost for the construction industry this year. But they cautioned that continued declines in private-sector and state & local construction activity were likely to exceed the amount of stimulus funded work. “As much as the stimulus helps, until broader demand for construction expands, our industry will be lucky just to tread water,” Simonson added.

View state-by-state construction employment data.

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Only Ten Metro Areas Add Construction Jobs Between February 2009 And 2010 As Industry Copes With New Regs, Spending Cuts
Houston, Texas Loses Largest Number of Construction Jobs, Monroe, MI Loses Highest Percent, While Eau Claire, WI Adds the Most Construction Jobs Nationwide During the Past 12 Months

Only 10 out of 337 metropolitan areas added construction jobs between February 2009 and 2010, the Associated General Contractors of America reported today citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even worse, 230 metro areas experienced double digit declines in construction employment while only two cities experienced a double digit increase, association officials noted.

“In virtually every area, construction workers continued to suffer the brunt of the recession,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Job losses in far too many cities were simply, and sadly, staggering.”

The construction economist said that Houston, Texas lost more construction jobs (25,500, 13 percent) than any other metro area between February 2009 and 2010. Monroe, Michigan, meanwhile, lost the highest percentage of construction jobs (41 percent, 900 jobs). Other areas experiencing a high number of job losses include Chicago, Illinois (25,200, 20 percent); Los Angeles, California (23,000, 19 percent); Las Vegas, Nevada (22,900, 31 percent); and Phoenix, Arizona (20,600, 20 percent).

Among the ten metro areas adding construction jobs during the past twelve months (twelve metro areas experienced no change in employment), three added only 100 jobs (Ithaca, New York; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and Bismarck, North Dakota). Eau Claire, Wisconsin added more jobs and a higher percent of jobs than any other city in America (600, 29 percent). Other areas adding jobs include El Paso, Texas (400 , 3 percent); Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Massachusetts-New Hampshire (300, 9 percent); Syracuse, New York (300, 3 percent); and Lafayette, Louisiana (200, 3 percent).

Simonson noted that the industry continues to suffer from weak demand for new construction activity. Annual construction spending declined to an eight-year low in February. He said that single-family homebuilding and the federal stimulus should help boost construction employment in a number of metro areas this spring, but high vacancy rates and shrinking state and local budgets will keep construction employment from rising in most areas.

In addition to low spending levels, association officials cautioned that federal and state regulatory and spending decisions were having an impact on the industry. They cited confusion about the impact of the health care legislation, unfunded mandates in California and New York forcing contractors to retrofit or replace current equipment and infrastructure spending cuts in states like New York and Florida.

View the latest city-by-city construction employment figures.

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Construction And Manufacturing Groups Call For Greater Focus On Competency-Based Education To Cut High School Drop Out Rates
Partnership to Champion New Investments and Support for Education Reform and Workforce Development as Best Way to Keep At Risk Students In School, On High-Paying Career Tracks

The construction and manufacturing industries announced today a new national effort to place greater focus on competency-based education to help cut rising high school dropout rates. The new partnership between the Associated General Contractors of America and The Manufacturing Institute will work to give students ways to graduate with nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials to succeed in a range of high-paying jobs.

“Giving students many paths to success is the best way to keep them from having many chances to fail,” said Doug Pruitt, past president of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Focusing on college prep is fine, but we also need to teach students skills they can use to literally build a better future for themselves and their communities.”

Pruitt said that competency-based education programs are already working to reduce dropout rates among at risk youth. He said a construction charter school in St. Louis, Missouri has nearly doubled the graduation rate of the same city’s overall public school system. And he said students completing the construction program operated within the San Diego Unified School District were passing the state’s core competency test at rates far above comparable non-construction students.

As a result, the two groups will help support the creation, design, and implementation of new ways for at-risk youth to graduate by creating opportunities for them to demonstrate mastery of practical skills that are directly applicable in the workplace. In addition, both groups are calling for new private and public sector investments in workforce development programs, industry-recognized skills certifications, and ensuring students get educational credits for successfully attaining skills with real value in the workplace. The partnership will also work to help develop the secondary career and technical education curriculum and planning that incorporates skills certifications.

“The integration of competency-based curricula in both high school and community college programs that lead to nationally portable, industry-recognized skills certifications incents students to graduate,” said Emily DeRocco, President, The Manufacturing Institute. “It makes it worthwhile for a student to stay in school when they realize that time spent in the classroom actually leads to a high-quality job in manufacturing or construction at the other end.”

Giving students a variety of ways to graduate is one of the best ways to cut dropout rates, reducing the social and economic costs that come with it, the groups noted. “If we don’t act now to address these staggering dropout rates, there’s no doubt that our ability to compete and win in a global economy will diminish,” Pruitt said. “Telling students their only hope lies in office jobs when construction and manufacturing positions often pay better is as odd as it is damaging.”

View information about the new partnership between the Associated General Contractors of America and The Manufacturing Institute.

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Construction Employment Rises For First Time Since June 2007; Unemployment Rate Remains At Depression-Like 24.9 Percent
March Gain May Reflect Rebound from Bad February Weather, Not Lasting Turnaround, Industry Economist Simonson Cautions

Payroll employment in the construction industry in March rose by 15,000, seasonally adjusted, the first gain since June 2007, according to federal employment figures released today. The Associated General Contractors of America hailed the increase but cautioned it may not be sustained.

“This upturn was shared among all three nonresidential categories—building construction, specialty trade contractors, and heavy and civil engineering construction,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But both nonresidential and residential construction employment remain lower than in January, suggesting some of the pickup may have been a short-term rebound from exceptionally severe weather in February.”

Simonson noted that the industry’s unemployment rate, which is not seasonally adjusted, dropped slightly from 27.1 percent in February to 24.9 percent in March but remained more than double the all-industry level. “The persistence of depression-like unemployment in construction is ominous for an industry that already faced challenges retaining and attracting skilled crafts workers and supervisors.”

Simonson pointed out that the industry continues to outpace the overall economy in wage rates. Hourly earnings for all workers in construction in March averaged $25.27, seasonally adjusted, 12.5 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm payroll workers. Craft workers averaged $23.18 or 23 percent more than all production and nonsupervisory workers.

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Construction Spending Drops To 2002 Levels, As Private Residential, Nonresidential And Public Construction All Decline
Single-family and Power Construction are Only Bright Spots, Says Industry Economist Simonson

Construction spending tumbled in February by $11.6 billion, or 1.3 percent, to $846 billion, a low last recorded in 2002, according to an analysis of new federal figures by the Associated General Contractors of America. Declines occurred relative to both the month before and February 2009 in most categories of private residential and nonresidential construction, as well as public construction, the association’s chief economist Ken Simonson noted.

“Most of the economy seems to be improving but construction is falling into an even deeper hole,” Simonson commented. “Bad weather may account for a small part of February’s downturn, but most of the contraction reflects ongoing lack of demand, tight credit conditions and shrinking state and local budgets.”

Simonson pointed out that the February decrease might prove to be even worse once the government has more complete data. Today’s report included downward revisions of $27 billion (3 percent) in the January total and $20 billion (2 percent) in the December figure. The December number had already been cut by $13 billion (1 percent) in last month’s release, he said. “It appears many projects are being halted or scaled back.”

Simonson remarked that new single-family construction spending remained essentially flat in February, dipping by 0.1 percent after eight consecutive monthly increases, and was 3.9 percent above the February 2009 total. Improvements to existing single- and multi-family construction were down 4.3 percent for the month but 4.3 percent higher than a year earlier, he said. “These numbers suggest that single-family construction will rebound in 2010, even as multi-family continues to sink.” New multi-family construction spending was level in February but 52 percent below the year-ago number.

“Among private nonresidential categories, the only bright light is power construction—power plants, renewables such as wind and solar, and transmission lines—where spending rose 1.3 percent in February and 9 percent compared to a year before,” Simonson stated. “I expect this good news to continue, but I also anticipate further double-digit annual declines in other categories,” Simonson cited spending on lodging (-6.7 percent for the month, -53 percent year-over-year); commercial, including retail, warehouse and farm (-3.5 percent and -38 percent); private offices (-2.0 percent and -38 percent); and manufacturing (+3.4 percent and -35 percent).

“Health care spending could go either way; it will take a while for providers and investors to digest the implications of the new law,” Simonson concluded, noting that total health care spending shrank 1.6 percent in February and 15 percent from a year before.

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