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TradeWinds

Industry News List

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Architect Compensation Stagnant as Recession Lingers
More than 25 percent decline in payrolls between 2007 and 2010

As the construction industry continues to suffer the effects of a prolonged economic downturn, the architecture profession has been hit especially hard. Consequently, the declining demand for design services has resulted in an average increase in total compensation of only $1,600 between 2008-2011 for staff architecture positions, according to the 2011 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Compensation Survey.

“In addition to reducing benefits offered to employees, architecture firms have been faced with devastating conditions and had to make difficult reductions in expenses,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Salary freezes or reductions, scaled back hours, the conversion of full-time to part-time or contract positions, and mandatory furloughs have all taken a toll on the compensation of architects.”
 
Average compensation        2011            2008 2005
Senior design/project management staff                          94,900 98,800 85,800
Architects/designers            71,600 71,600 57,700
Interns 47,300 45,400 38,800

The complete 2011 AIA Compensation Survey report is free to media and available for purchase through the AIA Bookstore. The report is in PDF format and costs $195 for AIA members and $249 for nonmembers. Nine regional reports are available for $95 each for AIA members and $125 for nonmembers.

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. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Construction Employment Increases In 149 Out Of 337 Metro Areas Between June 2010 & 2011 As Private Sector Demand Rebounds
Dallas Area and Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Top List of Metro Areas Adding Jobs; Las Vegas Area Lost the Most, While Redding, CA Had the Largest Percentage Decline

Construction employment increased in 149 out of 337 metropolitan areas between June 2010 and June 2011, declined in 141 and stayed level in 47, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the local employment data posted slightly stronger gains largely because of growing private sector demand for construction.

“A lot of metro areas appear to be benefitting from growing demand from the private sector for new construction,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Declining public sector demand is clearly taking a toll on just as many metro areas, however.”

Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, again added more construction jobs (5,600 jobs, 5 percent) than any other metro area during the past year while Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI, added the highest percentage (20 percent, 2,600 jobs). Other areas adding a large number of jobs included the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area (5,500 jobs, 4 percent); Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI (4,300 jobs, 12 percent); the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area (3,600 jobs, 2 percent) and Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN (2,600 jobs, 7 percent).

The largest job losses were in the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV area (-7,000 jobs, -15 percent); followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA (-5,400 jobs, -5 percent); New York City (-5,000 jobs, -4 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA (-3,900 jobs, -6 percent) and Philadelphia (-3,700 jobs, -6 percent). Redding, CA (-17 percent, -500 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Bend, OR (-15 percent, -500 jobs) and Albuquerque, NM (-14 percent, -3,000 jobs).

Association officials said they were concerned that the construction industry would continue to suffer more than other sectors from new efforts to cut federal spending. They cited recent measures enacted, or proposed, by Congress that would significantly cut investments in highway, clean water, federal building and flood control construction programs. And they noted that Congress has already allowed $2.5 billion worth of airport construction projects to lapse over an unrelated policy dispute.

"Cutting construction budgets without addressing out of control entitlement spending is a lot like neglecting your leaky roof while you continue to dine out every night,” said the association’s chief executive officer Stephen E. Sandherr. “Congress may save some money in the short run, but fixing all that broken, neglected infrastructure is going to cost a lot more later than maintaining it now would.”

View the new construction employment figures by state or by rank.

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Construction Spending Edges Up In June As Gains In Private Nonresidential Segments Outweigh Shrinking Residential, Public Construction
Power, Manufacturing, Commercial and Health Care Construction Lead Gains; Contractors Association Officials Call on Congress to Restore Airport Funding, Protect Highways and Transit Construction from Spending Lapse


Construction spending edged up 0.2 percent in June as increases in private nonresidential construction outweighed continuing declines in private residential and public construction spending, the Associated General Contractors of America reported today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data. The construction trade association?s chief economist, Ken Simonson, predicted further imbalances in spending, with further cuts in public spending likely to offset most or all of the gains in private investment.

"Private nonresidential construction is rebounding, thanks to renewed investments in power, manufacturing, and warehousing and distribution facilities," Simonson said. "A small rise in homebuilding also helped overall spending rise for the third month in a row, although decreases in multifamily and residential improvements pulled down total private residential construction by 0.3 percent. Meanwhile, public construction shrank 9.6 percent since June 2010, and appears headed down further."

Simonson noted that private nonresidential construction jumped 1.8 percent from May to June and that nine of the 11 categories that the Census Bureau breaks out recorded gains for the month. The largest monthly increases were in manufacturing and power construction, both up 4.0 percent; commercial (retail, warehouse and farm) construction, up 3.1 percent; and health care construction, up 2.3 percent.

Simonson remarked that public construction spending dropped 0.7 percent in June, bringing the total decline since March 2009 to 14.3 percent. The two largest public categories have fallen by double-digit rates over the past year: highway and street construction fell 1.6 percent in June and 10.4 percent year-over-year, while educational construction dropped 4.1 percent for the month and 13.0 percent compared with June 2010 levels.

"Cutting public investments in infrastructure and construction will offset recent gains in private sector activity," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Worse, it will put taxpayers on the hook for even greater expenses down the road as infrastructure deteriorates and costly repairs are required."

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Decline in Nonresidential Construction Spending Expected in 2011 with Modest Growth Projected for 2012
Costs of key building materials increasing

A multitude of factors are preventing a recovery for the beleaguered design and construction industry. Lenders that have been extremely reticent to finance construction projects, budget shortfalls at all levels of government, the ripple effect of overbuilding, a depressed housing market and rising costs of key construction commodities are all contributing to what projects to be a decline of 5.6% in spending this year for nonresidential construction projects. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters, also projects a 6.4% increase of spending in 2012.

“Consumer and business confidence is poor and the overall economy has yet to pull out of the downturn that began in 2008, which both add to the general sense of anxiety and uncertainty in the real estate market” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Spending on renovations of existing buildings has remained strong, but the depressed demand for new construction isn’t likely to improve until next year, led by the commercial sector: offices, retail and hotels.”
 
Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts 2011    2012
     
Overall Nonresidential            -5.6%  6.4%
     
Commercial/Industrial -6.5%  11.8%
     
Hotels -17.9% 18.0%
Industrial -15.8    8.4%
Office Buildings                       -6.1%   9.8%
Retail -3.1% 11.8%
     
Institutional -3.4% 4.4%
     
Religious -10% 6.3%
Education                    -5.2% 2.6%
Public safety                  -2.5% 0.9%
Amusement / recreation           -0.3% 5.9%
Healthcare facilities                 1.8%    7.1%

Baker added, “Steel, copper and aluminum have all increased ten percent or more in the past year, offsetting declines for lumber and concrete products. Rising energy costs have also been central to the unusual volatility in building material prices”

Regional patterns
Though the AIA does not provide regional construction forecasts, there is evidence that some areas of the country are recovering faster than others. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s payroll surveys:

  • Michigan leads the country with a 5.2% increase in construction payrolls in the last year
  • Hawaii, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Illinois and Washington, DC have had gains of 3% or more
  • Nevada and Rhode Island have each lost 10% or more of their construction pay rolls

According to the Federal Reserve Board’s Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions (Beige Book) from early June, noted that nonresidential construction, rose modestly in the Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Dallas districts. More broadly, a number of districts expressed a general sense of optimism for the second half of 2011.

About the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel
The AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is conducted twice a year with the leading nonresidential construction forecasters in the United States including, McGraw Hill Construction, IHS-Global Insight, Moody’s economy.com, Reed Business Information, Associated Builders & Contractors and FMI. The purpose of the Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is to project business conditions in the construction industry over the coming 12 to 18 months. The Consensus Construction Forecast Panel has been conducted for 13 years.

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. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org. Twitter: http://twitter.com/AIA_Media

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San Diego’s American Society of Professional Estimators Win “Best Chapter” Awards
John Heusner of Cumming Chairs San Diego’s ASPE Education Sector, Wins Best National Education Program

On July 15, during its annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee, the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) awarded the San Diego Chapter the Regional and National Best Chapter Program Award. The nationally recognized group of professionals granted the coveted award to San Diego because of its development of continued training, collaboration, and contributions to the construction industry.

Cumming, a San Diego-based international project and cost management firm, is a strong supporter of ASPE with several Cumming employees volunteering in leadership positions. John Heusner, a Director of Cost Management, serves as ASPE San Diego’s Executive Secretary and Chair of Education and Mentoring. The Education Program won the Best Regional Education Program Award and the Best National Education Program Award.

“We’re honored to be presented these awards and recognized at the national level,” said Heusner. “Our San Diego Chapter encompasses the best and brightest ASPE certified professionals. We look forward to contributing our expertise and knowledge to the industry and this award gives us momentum to keep pushing forward.”

Bill Rodgers, Cumming Managing Principal and renowned economic expert, gave a presentation on the “State of the Economy” describing how California is leading the US in the rate of construction recovery. Alan Plummer, Cumming’s Director of Building Information Modeling (BIM), led the panel discussion on BIM; Dan Luckhardt, a Cumming Senior Cost Manager, served on the program committee and serves as Chairman of the Ethics and Scholarship Committees; and Steve DeWulf, Cumming Regional Vice President, served on the education committee.

ASPE has more than 60 chapters and thousands of members nationwide. A professional society that promotes the highest standards and ethics in the practice of construction estimating, ASPE offers its members the opportunity to become recognized as Certified Professional Estimators (CPE).

For more information on Cumming and ASPE, please contact Nikki Jimenez at nikki.jimenez@focuscominc.com or at 619-233-7778.

About Cumming:
Cumming, headquartered in San Diego, California, is an international project and cost management firm. Since opening for business in 1996, Cumming has provided efficient and cost-effective solutions to ensure that projects in the education, healthcare, hospitality and gaming sectors are executed on time and within budget. Cumming provides a solutions-oriented suite of services that specifically address our clients' unique challenges, thus enabling them to achieve extraordinary results. For more information, please visit www.ccorpusa.com.

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Significant Government Policy Risks Could Affect Near, Long-Range Forecast

SKOKIE, Ill.— Despite recovery momentum in late 2010, the U.S. economy is again in a slowdown. This will weaken construction activity and restrain gains in cement consumption until 2013, according to the most recent economic forecast from the Portland Cement Association (PCA).

PCA downgraded its cement consumption forecast to 0.2 percent in 2011, 0.4 percent in 2012, with a significant 16.4 percent increase in 2013. According to the report, uncertainty regarding highway spending legislation and government policy related to the debt crisis will cause a negative drag on construction activity for the next few years.

“Our previous forecast had assumed the new highway bill would be 20 percent higher than existing levels, but we now believe the funding will remain at current levels,” Edward Sullivan, PCA chief economist said. “Lack of highway funding and reduced consumer, business and bank confidence due to the debt crisis will all slow down construction recovery.”

According to Sullivan, economic recovery from the Great Recession will be led by a strengthening of confidence in these areas. Without a sustained improvement, private sector fundamentals such as job creation, investment and ease in lending standards will not be released in full force and commit the economy to a path of improvement.

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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Reformulated Garland StressPly® E High-Tensile Roofing Membrane is Even More Eco-Friendly

Garland’s newest StressPly® E (Environmental) modified bitumen membrane offers 500 lbf./in. of tensile strength a variety of post- and pre- consumer recyclable materials and rapidly renewable resources for increased sustainability. This high-strength, puncture- and fatigue-resistant membrane makes an ideal waterproofing and reinforcement layer for applications demanding a high level of environmental responsibility.

The new StressPly E membrane retains the high-performance capabilities of earlier versions of the product, while setting a new industry standard for the incorporation of environmentally responsible materials. In addition, the membranes can be installed using Garland’s Green-Lock® Membrane Adhesive for 100 percent VOC-free, odor-free application. As the robust weathering membrane in a multi-ply system, StressPly E membranes provide the security and longevity of multi-ply construction with the flexibility and elongation of an elastomeric system.

Tom Bauer, Garland’s product manager, explains: “StressPly E utilizes the latest in recycled and renewable raw materials in the manufacturing process, resulting in recycled content as high as 39 percent by weight. This helps building owners achieve USGBC LEED®* MR 4.1, 4.2 and 6 credits*. In addition, a fire retardant is added to the compound during the manufacturing process, enabling it to maintain its fire rating for the life of the membrane.”

Specifically, StressPly E membranes contribute to LEED points through the incorporation of:
  • Post-consumer scrap from recycled tires in the roofing compound
  • Pre-consumer recycled boiler slag as surfacing
  • Pre-consumer crushed porcelain as filler
  • Post-consumer glass bottles as a parting agent
  • Rapidly renewable resources (soy-based oils, bio-based resins, and crushed sea shells), in substitution of petroleum-based resources in the roofing compound

StressPly membranes, which can be hot or cold applied, are designed for use as the top component in built-up roof applications demanding superior strength. They may also be used to add extra durability in a two-ply flashing system or to repair splits, cracks, and other deteriorated areas in existing asphalt-based roofing systems.

The Garland Company, Inc. is a worldwide leader ofquality, high-performance roofing and building maintenance systems for the commercial, industrial and institutional markets. For over 100 years, Garland has continually developed unique product and service offerings that raise industry standards of performance in order to meet the technical performance requirements of a wide range of challenging waterproofing applications throughout the world. Its 200 local representatives are strategically positioned throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to provide integrated product and service solutions for single and multi-property facilities. The Garland Company, Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company.

For a free roof inspection or for more information, visit www.garlandco.com or call toll-free to be connected with your local Garland representative at 1 800 321 9336.

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Belden Brick Purchases Virginia Brick Operation

The Belden Brick Company announced today that it has approved a purchase agreement for Lawrenceville Brick, Inc. of Lawrenceville, VA, through their subsidiary Redland Brick of Williamsport, MD.

Lawrenceville Brick was incorporated in 1947 as Brick and Tile Corporation of Lawrenceville, VA. The original plant opened that same year, with a capacity of ten million bricks. The company continued to expand as demand for brick increased, and by 2002 had facilities to produce 115 million bricks per year, along with running three retail operations.

Of the purchase, William H. Belden Jr., Chairman of Belden Brick, said, "We are very pleased with this arrangement. We've known the people at Lawrenceville Brick for quite some time and admire the products they produce. Their line fits well into the Redland Brick portfolio and their market area is an excellent enhancement to our sales territory."

Belden also said that the acquisition was mutually agreed upon by those involved. "The management at Lawrenceville decided that the time was right to sell, and we saw it as an excellent opportunity to expand our product portfolio."

Redland Brick is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belden Holding and Acquisition Company. It operates four brick manufacturing plants in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Belden Brick is the sixth largest brick manufacturer in the United States. At a time when most brick companies are owned by international conglomerates, Belden is the largest family owned and managed brick company in the nation.

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Another Setback for the Architecture Billings Index
Institutional sector struggling most because of government budget shortfalls

June marked the third consecutive decline in revenue at U.S. architecture firms as measured by the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). 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 June ABI score was 46.3, almost a full point from a reading of 47.2 the previous month. This score reflects a continued decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). However, the new projects inquiry index was 58.1, up sharply from a mark of 52.6 in May.

“This seems to be a case of not thinking it can get any worse – and then it does,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “While a modest turn around appeared to be on the way earlier in the year, the overall concern about both domestic and global economies is seeping into design and construction industry and adding yet another element that is preventing recovery. Furthermore, the threat of the federal government failing to resolve the debt ceiling issue is leading to higher borrowing rates for real estate projects and should there actually be a default, we are likely looking at a catastrophic situation for a sector that accounts for more than ten percent of overall GDP.”

Key June ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: West (51.7), Northeast (47.5), South (47.3), Midwest (44.6)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (51.5), commercial / industrial (50.0), multi-family residential (49.6), institutional (45.9)
  • Project inquiries index: 58.1

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is 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 as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.

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. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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American Institute of Architects Joins BuildStrong Coalition; Throws Support Behind Safe Building Code Legislation

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced its support for the federal "Safe Building Code Incentive Act" (H.R.2069), introduced by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., which would make states with national model building codes in place eligible for an additional four percent in relief funding after natural disasters. If enacted, the bill would serve to encourage states to head off disaster damage before it happens by requiring that homes meet nationally recognized standards.

To that end, the AIA has joined the BuildStrong Coalition, a partnership of national business and consumer organizations, corporations, and emergency management officials dedicated to stronger building codes, in order to protect homes and buildings, and the primary private-sector proponent of the Diaz-Balart bill.

“Rep. Diaz-Balart’s bill deserves swift approval in Congress — especially with catastrophic wind damage and accompanying disasters throughout large swaths of the south and Midwest.,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “The incentives contained in this legislation would go a long way toward ensuring that structures have a better chance of surviving when disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes occur. We must continue to find effective means in making our cities, communities and regions more resilient."

For example, the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center estimates that up-to-date building codes -- had they been in place in 2005 -- would have reduced wind damage from Hurricane Katrina by 80 percent. Furthermore, the adoption and enforcement of modern model codes is a money saver as well as a life and building saver. The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) -- a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization authorized by Congress -- estimates that for every $1 spent to make buildings stronger, taxpayers save $4 in federal assistance.

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. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Construction Material Costs Outrun Finished Building Prices In June, Subjecting Contractors To Price Squeeze Despite One-Month Dip In Costs
Latest Producer Price Index Figures Show Contractors are Paying More for Diesel Fuel, Metal Products; Association Officials Urge Congress, White House to Rethink Pending Cuts for Infrastructure Repairs

Construction costs again outpaced other producer prices in June but contractors remained unable to recoup the costs through higher bid prices, according to an analysis of producer price index figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the ongoing cost squeeze will put new pressure on construction firms to reduce staff and possibly close.

“Despite a one-month dip in the prices of some key materials in June, construction costs rose on a year-over-year basis at the highest rate since 2008,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Worse, prices are rising amid continued layoffs and construction spending levels that hit an 11-year low in May.”

Simonson noted that the producer price index for all construction materials inched down 0.1 percent in June but increased 8.3 percent over the past 12 months, whereas the index for finished goods fell 0.7 percent for the month (0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted) and climbed 7.0 percent over 12 months. Meanwhile, the price of finished buildings was unchanged in June and rose only 2.0 percent or less over the past year, depending on building type.

Simonson said outsized year-over-year price increases for construction were attributable to the indexes for diesel fuel and metals. The index for diesel rose 1.4 percent in June and 50 percent since June 2010. Among key metals, prices for copper and brass mill shape climbed 0.4 percent and 26 percent, respectively; aluminum mill shapes rose 0.4 percent and 17 percent; and steel mill products dropped 1.7 percent in the latest month but increased 7.0 percent from a year earlier.

“All of these materials are in worldwide demand, with supplies that are either tight or threatened by international turmoil,” Simonson commented. “In contrast, materials that go strictly for construction have dropped in price as demand remains weak.” He cited as examples the price indexes for gypsum products such as wallboard, which fell 2.8 percent in June and 7.4 percent over 12 months; lumber and plywood, 0.9 percent and 4.1 percent; and concrete products, 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent.

Association officials said that given the continued economic pressures on the construction industry, Congress and the White House should reconsider planned cuts for infrastructure maintenance that will only increase taxpayer burdens over the long-term. “Allowing our highways, bridges and public structures to degrade will make matters worse for the construction industry and force taxpayers to pay more to fix broken buildings and infrastructure,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

View the latest producer price index tables for construction.

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Construction Employment Slips Again In June, Extending Five-Year Slump, As Downturn In Public Works Offsets Limited Private-Sector Gains

Drop in Construction Unemployment Rate Suggests Workers are Leaving Industry, Threatening Later Growth; Officials Call on Federal, State Governments to Promptly and Fully Fund Infrastructure Projects

Construction employment remained mired in a five-year-long slump as the industry shed another 9,000 jobs from May to June, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that declines in public sector construction activity will negate any pickup in private sector demand unless Congress and states promptly and fully fund needed infrastructure spending and streamline the approval process for public projects.

The industry unemployment rate fell from 20.1 percent a year ago to 15.6 percent in June 2011, said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. However, Simonson noted that the June 2011 employment total of 5,513,000 was only 2,000 higher than in June 2010 and more than 2.2 million, or 29 percent, below the peak in April 2006.

“Even with the drop in the industry unemployment rate, the lack of hiring means that people are leaving construction, not going back into it,” Simonson said. “That will make future expansion all the more difficult.”

The construction economist noted that employment in heavy and civil engineering construction—the segment that had previously added jobs as a result of federal funding for stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane protection projects—shrank for the second month in a row, by 1,800 jobs, although the June 2011 total was 23,000 jobs or 2.8 percent higher than a year earlier. Residential building and specialty trade employment dropped a combined 9,900 jobs in June and 35,000, or 1.7 percent, over the past 12 months. Nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors added a net 2,700 jobs for the month and 16,200 jobs, or 0.6 percent, over 12 months.

“In the second half of 2011, there should be a strong gain in apartment and manufacturing construction; some improvement in construction of hospitals, distribution centers and hotel renovations; and ongoing strength in power and energy projects,” Simonson predicted. “But job creation in these niches may be swamped by further declines in public construction and continued weakness in single-family homebuilding, office and retail work.”

Association officials said that it is vital for public officials at all levels of government to renew commitments to maintain and update infrastructure. The construction association also reiterated its call to streamline approvals of public works.

“The announcement yesterday of the outline of a long-delayed federal highway and transit funding authorization, with a quicker approval process, is an encouraging note, but the proposed funding level is grossly inadequate,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Meanwhile, a budget stalemate in Minnesota has already led to a halt in state highway projects there, adding to the unacceptably high loss of construction jobs. Other road, school and public works projects are at risk of shutting down soon unless government officials act promptly."

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C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. (CRL) Announces 
U.S. Aluminum Company (USAL) is Open for Business
USAL Well on the Road to Recovery as a Division of C.R. Laurence

C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. (CRL), a leading global manufacturer and supplier to the glazing, railing, architectural, construction, industrial, and automotive industries announces that U.S. Aluminum, a leading storefront and curtain wall supplier, is open for business and on the road to regaining operational excellence.

Lloyd Talbert, President of C.R. Laurence, states, “We are pleased that at this point so soon after the acquisition nearly all of the U.S. Aluminum locations are operational. We have had a wonderful surge in former USAL employees contacting us, and we are actively in the process of talking to and re-hiring them. We have worked diligently to get all former USAL locations back in operation, with the exception of the Maryland facility, which has been merged with the facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina. In addition, the Los Angeles branch is in the process of being moved to a location near CRL’s corporate and manufacturing headquarters in Vernon.”

CRL is delighted with and deeply appreciates the support of our industry and our customers. We’re especially pleased at the warm reception of past USAL employees, many of whom are now back at work. Andrew Blackmon, a re-hired USAL employee posted on the CRL facebook page "I would like to personally thank the CRL team on the purchase of U.S. Aluminum. I am a young veteran with 11 years experience at the South Carolina (USAL) facility. We all appreciate the opportunity and look forward to being associated with CRL!"

Information on U.S. Aluminum, its products, services, and locations can be found at www.usalum.com. USAL locations and phone numbers for placing and checking on orders are shown below:

Atlanta, GA (404) 344-3468              Langley, BC (888) 889-3899
Chicago, IL (800) 323-8480              Rock Hill, SC (800) 462-5668
Dallas, TX (214) 638-8722                St. Louis, MO (314) 997-5112
Davenport, FL (888) 890-8550          Vernon, CA (877) 394-8338
Houston, TX (713) 462-1766             Waxahachie, TX (800) 627-6440

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DeckTools® Deck Design Software Expands its Library with Innovative Products from Feeney, Inc.

Pleasanton, Calif. – Simpson Strong-Tie announced that Feeney Inc. has joined their DeckTools® deck sales and design software partners’ library. Feeney is a leading manufacturer of high-quality, innovative architectural and garden products. The latest DeckTools® Software version 3.3 features several of Feeney’s most popular products: CableRail railing infill cables, Lightline® door canopies, and two styles of wall-mounted cable and rod trellises.

DeckTools software is a sales, design and estimating program that enables deck builders, remodelers and suppliers to design decks in a photo-realistic, 3D environment. Users can customize nearly every detail, from the deck shape and railings to canopies and material choices. By showing homeowners images of their finished deck designs and making it easy to select upgrades instantly, sales are closed much faster. In addition, the program can quickly generate plans, proposals and material lists. Feeney is one of many brand-name deck product manufacturers to be included in the program’s partners’ library.

“Our success over the past 63 years stems from our experience, service, quality products and strong customer relationships, and we’re very excited to be part of DeckTools program and the Simpson Strong-Tie company that shares the same business vision,” said Feeney’s VP of marketing, Andrew Penny. “Not only does DeckTools offer additional valuable exposure for our products, but it also provides an extremely realistic and user-friendly environment in which contractors and homeowners can easily interact with our products and clearly visualize their finished project. And this close involvement and interaction is a great way to help build strong, enduring relationships with customers.”

DeckTools Software 3.3 includes new features, such as an enhanced user guide with drawings, a handy tape measure tool and new straight run layout options in its Railing Designer. It also is now easier to upgrade to stainless-steel connectors and to replace nails with SD structural-connector screws. The software retails for $1895.00. For more information about the program and to see a current list of DeckTools partners, visit the DeckTools site.

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, buildings and decks. Considered a leader in structural systems research and testing, Simpson Strong-Tie is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, anchors and lateral-force resisting systems. Simpson Strong-Tie® products are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. 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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C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. (CRL) Announces Acquisition of U.S. Aluminum Company (USAL)

C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. (CRL), a leading global supplier to the glazing, railing, architectural, construction, industrial, and automotive industries, is pleased to announce the acquisition of U.S. Aluminum Company, formerly a part of the International Aluminum Group.

In making the announcement, Lloyd Talbert, President of C.R. Laurence, states, “We are very pleased to announce the acquisition of the assets and business of U.S. Aluminum, one of the most respected names in the storefront and curtain wall business. We are proud of this new association and are especially pleased that Tom Harris, Executive Vice President of the predecessor company, will join us as President of the new company. Tom has over 20 years experience leading major storefront and curtain wall suppliers, and is well respected in the industry. Tom will spend the next few weeks assembling a team to rebuild this iconic brand, and will be integral in the further development of a comprehensive architectural hardware program.”

Talbert continues, “Our plan is to contact customers and vendors of U.S. Aluminum, as well as many of their former employees, to re-establish relationships. We wish to assure those U.S. Aluminum clients who have jobs in progress that we will immediately assess the status of their orders and expedite their completion and delivery. We’re confident that we can restore the U.S. Aluminum brand to its former luster. We also appreciate the support and encouragement we have received from many C.R. Laurence customers during this process.”.

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Construction Unemployment Drops to 15.6 Percent in June
"The slowdown in economic momentum since March has translated directly into reduced demand for construction." —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.


Despite a loss of 9,000 jobs in June, the construction industry unemployment rate dropped to 15.6 percent – the lowest level since December 2008 – according to the July 8 employment report by the U.S. Labor Department. Meanwhile, the construction industry has added 2,000 jobs compared to the same time last year.

The nonresidential building construction sector lost 400 jobs in June and was flat year-over-year with employment standing at 657,300 (see graph below). The residential building construction sector shed 1,500 jobs for the month and has lost 15,900 jobs, or 2.8 percent, from the same time last year. Specialty trade contractor employment fell by 5,300 from May and 4,900 jobs, or 0.1 percent, from June 2010. The heavy and civil engineering construction sector shed 1,800 jobs for the month, but has added 23,000 jobs, or 2.8 percent, compared to the same time last year.

(See Analysis below)

Across all nonfarm industries, the nation added a deeply disappointing 18,000 jobs in June, far short of the consensus expectation of a 125,000 monthly job increase. Year-over-year, nonfarm employment has expanded by 1,036,000 jobs or 0.8 percent. Private industries added 57,000 jobs in June and have added 1,695,000 jobs, or 1.6 percent, since the same time last year. Government employment shrunk by 39,000 jobs for the month and 659,000 jobs, or 2.9 percent, year-over-year. Overall, the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent in June.

Analysis
“Despite some better news from other data releases in recent weeks, today’s employment report strongly suggests that the impact of higher energy prices, higher food prices and the three-headed crisis in Japan continues to impact the pace of economic activity and hiring in America,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The slowdown in economic momentum since March has translated directly into reduced demand for construction, which helps explain the 400 jobs lost in the nation’s nonresidential building construction sector.

“There are other factors that may be impacting the economy, including the ongoing battle over the nation’s debt ceiling and issues related to sovereign debt in Europe,” Basu said. “Though oil prices have fallen since their peak of roughly $114 a barrel earlier this year, these other factors may prevent economic momentum from rebuilding in the near term.

“Though some may take solace in the falling construction unemployment rate, it is important to note that one of the reasons might be that former construction workers may be securing employment in non-construction industries,” Basu said. “Still, others may have given up looking for construction work all together and are no longer counted in the most commonly used measure of our nation’s unemployment rate.”

To view the previous employment report, click here.

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Construction Spending Hits 11-Year Low In May As Declining Residential, Public Outlays Swamp Gains In Private Nonresidential Segments
Power, Manufacturing, Transportation and Distribution Construction Constitute “A Few Bright Spots,” Association Economist Says, But Overall Gains Will Be “Modest at Best”

Construction spending fell for the sixth straight month in May, touching an 11-year low, as shrinking public outlays and residential construction swamped a rise in private nonresidential work, the Associated General Contractors of America reported today in an analysis of new Census Bureau data. The construction trade association’s chief economist, Ken Simonson, predicted spending patterns would continue to be uneven.

“Despite a few bright spots—power, manufacturing, and warehousing and distribution facilities—most construction is stuck in neutral at best or is shrinking,” Simonson said. “Five years removed from the peak in spending and jobs, the industry still faces a long road to recovery.”

Simonson pointed out that public construction spending has skidded 12 percent in the past eight months as state and local budget cuts have outweighed federal spending on stimulus and military base realignment projects. Meanwhile, the widely reported upturn in private apartment activity has yet to show up in the Census numbers.

Simonson noted that total construction spending declined 0.6 percent from April to May at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, putting the May rate at $753 billion, down 7.1 percent from a year ago and down 38 percent from the record high in March 2006. Private nonresidential spending increased 1.2 percent from April to May but fell 5.1 percent compared with the May 2010 level. Private residential spending was off 2.1 percent for the month and 6.6 percent year-over-year. Public spending dropped 0.8 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

The private nonresidential gains were concentrated in power construction—emissions control upgrades to coal-fired plants, renewable power installations, transmission lines, and oil and gas distribution—which jumped 4.4 percent in May and 11.5 percent from a year earlier, Simonson observed. Private transportation investments, such as trucking and air freight facilities, rose 4.5 percent for the month and 3.7 percent over 12 months. Manufacturing construction climbed 1.8 percent in May but was down 19.6 percent since May 2010.

Simonson commented that the largest residential category is currently improvements to existing single- and multifamily properties. These expenditures fell 3.8 percent for the month and 1.0 percent year-over-year, he said. New single-family construction sank 0.3 percent and 11.9 percent respectively, while new multi-family construction dropped 2.1 percent and 6.8 percent.

The two biggest public categories—highways and educational construction, which make up more than half of the public total—both contracted sharply in May, Simonson pointed out. Highway construction fell 1.5 percent for the month and 11.3 percent year-over-year, while education spending dropped 2.3 percent and 8.7 percent.

“Looking ahead, expect to see continued strength in power, manufacturing and distribution projects, along with a pickup in market-rate apartment construction,” Simonson concluded. “But declining public spending is likely to keep overall gains modest at best.”

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