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TradeWinds

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New DBC Drywall Bridging Connector for Cold-Formed Steel Reduces Labor and Material Costs

Pleasanton, Calif. – The DBC drywall bridging connector is the latest innovation for cold-formed steel construction from Simpson Strong-Tie. The patent-pending design of the new DBC connector enables one- or two-screw installation, significantly reducing labor and material costs.

The DBC is the first and only connector load-rated for smaller ¾” u-channel bridging. Along with the Simpson Strong-Tie® SUBH and MSUBH bridging connectors, the DBC has been extensively lab-tested as a system, ensuring that tabulated design values reflect stud web depth and thickness. The connector has been tested in accordance with ICC-ES AC261.

Designed to fit smaller web knockouts common to drywall studs, the DBC connector is compatible with conventional and proprietary drywall studs ranging from 15-33 mil thickness, and with stud depths of
3 5/8” and 6”. For more information about our cold-formed steel product line, visit www.strongtie.com/cfs.

About Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc.
For more than 55 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, testing and innovation, Simpson Strong-Tie works closely with industry professionals to provide code-listed, field-tested products and value-engineered solutions. Its structural products are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. The company’s extensive product offering includes connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, lateral-force resisting systems, anchors and products that repair, protect and strengthen concrete. From product development and testing to training and engineering and field support, Simpson Strong-Tie is committed to helping customers succeed. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.strongtie.com.

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AIA Issues Report on Key Trends in Architecture Marketplace

Developed in conjunction with the Greenway Group, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has made the AIA Foresight Report available for free download to AIA members at AIA National Convention and Design Exposition – June 20th through 22nd.

The 32-page report highlights key trends in the architecture marketplace and their impact on business and growth. It is intended to provide original research that applies to the current and future practice of architecture focusing on the areas of sustainability, advances in building performance, changes in project delivery and the evolution of technology.

Key findings include:

  • Stiffer competition in the design services marketplace is here to stay due to recession pressure

  • New markets and a growing base of talent for the A/E/C industry due to the rise of emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

  • Greater collaboration among design, engineering and construction disciplines

  • Increasing push for measuring the effect and benefit of design strategies and providing building performance data

  • Rise in alternative and complementary services being offered by architecture firms

  • Strong market for green products and design

Available as a free digital download for AIA Members, the AIA Foresight Report will also be available for purchase by non-members, firms, and clients as digital files for $24.99 and print files for $34.99. Download or purchase the report at www.aia.org/foresight.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well-being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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May Construction Climbs 5 Percent

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $495.7 billion, new construction starts in May advanced 5% from the previous month, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial. Much of the upward lift came from nonresidential building, which registered moderate growth for the second month in a row after its sluggish performance at the outset of 2013. Smaller gains in May were reported for housing and non-building construction (public works and electric utilities). During the first five months of 2013, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were reported at $187.6 billion, down 3% from the same period a year ago. The 2013 year-to-date volume for total construction reflected a steep decline in the dollar amount for new electric utility projects relative to a robust first half of 2012. If electric utilities are excluded, total construction starts would be up 10% year-to-date, helped in particular by the strengthened pace for housing.

May’s data raised the Dodge Index to 105 (2000=100), up from the 100 that was reported for April, and slightly above the average Index reading for all of 2012 at 101. “The construction industry has shown modest improvement over the past year, helped by some project types while restrained by others,” stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw Hill Construction. “The housing sector played a leading role last year in lifting overall construction activity, and while this year’s month-to-month gains have been smaller, housing continues to lead the hesitant construction expansion. Nonresidential building has yet to provide much of a contribution, as tenuous gains for commercial building have been offset by further weakness for institutional building. Still, the April and May pickup for nonresidential building could be a sign of more growth to come. As for non-building construction, the negative impact from the sequester has so far turned out to be less severe on the public works categories than anticipated. However, new electric utility starts are in the midst of sharp decline from last year’s record amount, and the extent of that decline is limiting whatever gain may be possible this year for total construction.”

Nonresidential building in May grew 9% to $156.4 billion (annual rate), following its 6% rise in April. For the commercial categories, stores and shopping centers are gathering momentum, with a 16% increase reported for May. Large retail projects that reached groundbreaking in May included a $60 million shopping center in Fresno CA and the $52 million second phase of the City Point retail and residential complex in Brooklyn NY. New hotel construction starts soared 94% in May, boosted by the $415 million.

SLS Las Vegas hotel complex on the site of the former Sahara Hotel and Casino. Office construction in May edged up 3%, following a substantial 58% jump in April. Large projects in May that helped to keep office construction at its improved pace were the $250 million renovation of the International Monetary Fund Headquarters in Washington DC, the $200 million renovation to the United Nations General Assembly Building in New York NY, a $120 million office building in McLean VA, and a $113 expansion to a data center in Dallas TX. Warehouse construction was the one commercial project type to retreat in May, sliding 7%, despite the start of a $100 million distribution facility in Edgerton KS. The nonresidential building total was helped in May by a considerable gain for manufacturing plants, which jumped 70% with the start of a $378 million technology development center in Malta NY and a $110 million expansion to a healthcare products manufacturing plant in Athens GA.

The institutional categories in May showed a mixed pattern. Educational facilities rebounded 10% after a weak April, helped by such projects as the $250 million expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a $91 million high school in Flower Mound TX, and a $67 million high school addition in Alexandria VA. May included groundbreaking for 16 high school projects each with a construction start cost of $10 million or more. The public buildings category in May climbed 95% from a very depressed April, supported by the start of a $125 million detention facility in Redwood City CA. However, healthcare facilities fell back 10% in May, despite the start of a $175 million hospital tower in Orlando FL. Other declines were reported for amusement-related projects, down 17%; churches, down 27%; and transportation terminals, down 33%. The decline for transportation terminals came relative to a very strong April, and occurred despite the May start of several large airport terminal projects – a $229 million renovation of Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport, a $90 million gate replacement project at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, and a $75 million renovation for Terminal E at Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport.

Residential building, at $206.8 billion (annual rate), advanced 3% in May. Single family housing, which had shown signs of leveling off in the prior two months, edged up 2% in May. The rate of activity for single family housing continues to be high by recent standards, with May up 26% from the average monthly pace during 2012. By geography, single family housing in May revealed gains in the Midwest, up 6%; the West, up 5%, and the South Atlantic, up 2%; but declines in the South Central, down 2%; and the Northeast, down 6%. Multifamily housing in May grew 7%, and its May volume was up 24% from the average monthly pace during 2012. Large projects that supported the increase for multifamily housing in May included a $225 million condominium tower in Sunny Isles Beach FL, the $144 million apartment portion of a $250 million mixed-use project in Rockville MD, a $90 million multifamily building in Cambridge MA, and a $90 million multifamily building in San Francisco CA. During the first five months of 2013, the top five metropolitan areas in terms of the dollar amount of new multifamily starts were the following – New York NY, Miami FL, Washington DC, Boston MA, and Los Angeles CA.

Non-building construction in May increased 2% to $132.4 billion (annual rate). Supporting the non-building gain was a 44% jump for electric utilities from a lackluster April, although the May amount for electric utilities was still down 24% from the average monthly pace during 2012. The start of a $2.3 billion solar power facility in California lifted electric utilities in May; the next largest electric utility projects were two $300 million gas-fired power plants, located in Delaware and Oregon. The public works categories in May showed varied behavior. Highway and bridge construction bounced back 11% after a 26% drop in April, continuing the up-and-down pattern that’s been present so far in 2013. Relative to last year, the stronger months for highway and bridge construction in 2013 have outweighed the weaker months, resulting in a 6% year-to-date gain. A 32% jump was reported in April for water supply systems, helped by the start of a $537 million desalination plant in California, and river/harbor development climbed 81% from a weak April. On the negative side, sewer construction in May dropped 14%, sliding for the third month in a row. A steep 63% plunge was reported in May for miscellaneous public works, falling back after an elevated April that included the start of three large rail-related projects.

The 3% downturn for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis during the first five months of 2013 reflected a 29% pullback for non-building construction. While the public works portion of non-building construction was up 5% year-to-date, electric utilities were down 70%. The first five months of 2012 featured an exceptional amount of large electric utility projects to reach the construction start stage, led by two nuclear projects – $8.5 billion for Units 3 and 4 at the Vogtle nuclear power facility in Georgia and $8.5 billion for Units 2 and 3 at the V.C. Summer nuclear power facility in South Carolina. Additional large electric utility projects that reached the construction start stage in the first five months of 2012 included a $1.3 billion gas-fired power plant in Florida, a $1.1 billion gas-fired power plant in Virginia, and a $1.1 billion solar energy complex in California. So far in 2013, the largest electric utility projects to reach the construction start stage are the $2.3 billion solar power facility in California and a $1.2 billion upgrade to a coal-fired generating plant in Kentucky.

Residential building in the first five months of 2013 advanced 32% compared to last year, reflecting similar gains for single family housing, up 32%; and multifamily housing, up 30%. Nonresidential building during this year’s first five months retreated 8%, due to a 13% drop for the institutional categories as well as a 20% decline for manufacturing plants. Commercial building on a year-to-date basis registered a 2% gain from last year.

By geography, total construction starts during the first five months of 2013 featured gains in three regions – the West, up 10%; the Northeast, up 7%; and the South Central, up 6%. Year-to-date shortfalls were reported for two regions – the Midwest, down 7%; and the South Atlantic, down 22%. If electric utilities are excluded from the construction start statistics in the South Atlantic, that region would post a 23% year-to-date gain.

About McGraw Hill Construction:
McGraw Hill Construction provides essential data, news, insights, and intelligence to better inform construction professionals’ decisions and strengthen their market position. McGraw Hill Construction’s data, analytics, and media businesses – Dodge, Sweets, Architectural Record, and Engineering News-Record – create opportunities for owners, architects, engineers, contractors, building product manufacturers, and distributors to strengthen their market position, size their markets, prioritize prospects, and target and build relationships that will win more business. McGraw Hill Construction serves more than one million customers through its trends and forecasts, industry news, and leading platform of construction data, benchmarks, and analytics, including Dodge MarketShare™, Dodge BuildShare® and Dodge SpecShare®. Construction data is available for North American and global markets. To learn more, visit http://www.construction.com.

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Builders and Lumber Dealers See Shortages of Key Building Materials

Home builders and lumber dealers are reporting significant shortages of key home building materials such as lumber and wall board, according to recent surveys by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA).

“Supply constraints are one of the barriers to a more robust recovery,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The shortages and price increases reported by both home builders and lumber dealers are particularly concerning given that the current rate of construction is still far below what would be considered normal or necessary to meet underlying demand.”

Among builders, the highest incidence of shortages was for oriented strand board (OSB), with 22 percent of builders reporting shortages, followed by wall board (20 percent), framing lumber (18 percent) and plywood (18 percent). The builder results come from special questions added to the monthly survey that serves as the basis for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which is widely viewed as a key indicator of the overall strength of the home building market.

With the exception of wall board, the lumber dealers reported greater shortages of these products than the home builders. Among lumber dealers, 27 to 28 percent reported shortages of OSB and plywood, 36 percent reported shortages of framing lumber and 12 percent reported shortages of wall board. The dealer results come from a special survey of NLBMDA's members, who operate single or multiple lumber yards and component plants and deal in many of the same products that NAHB members purchase.

Both the builder and lumber dealer surveys asked about shortages of 24 specific building products and materials. For most of the products, the share of builders reporting a shortage was considerably higher in May of 2013 than in 2011 or 2012. The only exceptions were copper wire, vinyl siding, HVAC equipment, insulation and structural insulated panels.

“The shares of reported shortages are not as high now as they were in 2004 or 2005, but the increases since 2012 are quite significant, especially when you take the early stage of the housing recovery into account,” said Crowe. “In 2004 and 2005 the home building industry was producing over 1.8 million new homes a year, while the current rate of new housing starts is still below 1 million.”

With the exception of concrete-related products, a larger share of lumber dealers than builders reported price increases in building materials over the past six months. On average, builders reported a 5.17 percent increase in the materials that go into a house over the past six months. Most lumber dealers reported that the prices of the products they handle had increased on average by 10 percent or more over the past six months.

“While a nascent housing recovery is underway, as reflected by the modest increase in sales by dealers, it’s clear that the ongoing material shortages and price increases being reported by dealers continue to be a cause for concern as we move into the latter half of 2013,” said Michael O’Brien, NLBMDA president and CEO.

The reported results reflect survey data collected from NAHB builders and NLBMDA dealers during the first half of May; 383 builders and 230 dealers provided responses. For more information or a copy of the complete report covering both surveys, contact Paul Emrath at 800-368-5242 x8449.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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Housing Starts Rise 6.8 Percent in May

Nationwide housing starts rose 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000 units in May due primarily to increased production on the multifamily side, according to newly released data from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The outlook for housing continues to brighten as builders respond to increased demand for new homes and rental apartments,” said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “While challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor are still keeping the pace of improvement in check, both builders and consumers are more confident about their prospects in the current marketplace.”

“Unusually wet weather across much of the country likely dampened the pace of single-family production in May,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Nevertheless, the strength in permit issuance for single-family units -- and stockpiling of permits for future use -- provides further evidence that housing continues on a slow and steady path to recovery.”

While single-family housing starts held at a solid but virtually unchanged pace of 599,000 units in May, multifamily production bounced back from an over-correction in the previous month with a 21.6 percent gain to 315,000 units. From a regional perspective, combined starts activity was mixed in the month, posting gains of 17.8 percent in the South and 5.7 percent in the West and declines of 9.0 percent in the Northeast and 13.7 percent in the Midwest.

Issuance of new building permits declined 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974,000 units in May. This reduction was due entirely to a 10.0 percent decline to 352,000 units on the multifamily side following a spike in that sector’s permits in April. Meanwhile, single-family permits edged up 1.3 percent to 622,000 units in May -- their best pace in five years. Regionally, permits rose 4.0 percent in the Northeast but declined 6.1 percent in the Midwest, 3.3 percent in the South and 3.5 percent in the West in May.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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Strong Rebound for Architecture Billings Index
Uncertainty in marketplace cited as main roadblock to broader recovery

Following the first reversal into negative territory in ten months in April, the Architecture Billings Index has bounced back in May. 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 May ABI score was 52.9, up dramatically from a mark of 48.6 in April. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.1, up slightly from the reading of 58.5 the previous month.

“This rebound is a good sign for the design and construction industry and hopefully means that April’s negative dip was a blip rather than a sign of challenging times to come,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But there is a resounding sense of uncertainty in the marketplace – from clients to investors and an overall lack of confidence in the general economy – that is continuing to act as a governor on the business development engine for architecture firms.”

Key May ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Northeast (53.7), West (52.1), South (50.9), Midwest (47.5)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.8), institutional (52.2), mixed practice (51.0), commercial / industrial (47.5)

  • Project inquiries index: 59.1

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Reopening of CertainTeed Ceilings Plant in Meridian, Miss., Marks Growing Demand for Company’s Innovative Acoustical Products

Citing confidence in the construction industry's ongoing recovery, CertainTeed Ceilings is reopening and expanding its ceilings manufacturing facility in Meridian, Miss. The announcement is the culmination of a re-invigoration of CertainTeed's ceilings business and positions the company to meet growing demand for its innovative acoustical solutions.

"Bringing the Meridian plant back on-line is central to strengthening CertainTeed's leadership position in the acoustical product marketplace," said Graham Thayer, vice president and general manager of CertainTeed Ceilings. "The added production capacity, along with our focus on Environmental Acoustics™ research, will enable us to grow with the commercial construction market and continue to provide customers with sophisticated solutions for creating sustainable, comfortable and healthy interior environments."

The Meridian plant produces a range of acoustical ceilings used in commercial applications. CertainTeed is investing $24 million into the reopening of the plant, which had previously been idled in August 2009 due to uncertainty in the construction market. The company expects the plant to resume operations by mid-2014, bringing 110 jobs to the community by 2016. Ongoing updates and employment information are available at www.certainteed.com/Meridian.

To commemorate the announcement, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry joined CertainTeed representatives for a tree planting ceremony, symbolizing the company's renewed commitment to growth in the local community.

"We're excited for the opportunity to become a part of the Meridian community once again and are eager to get back to work as quickly as possible," said Thayer. "This city has always shown a dedication and strong work ethic that I’m confident will help us to continue offering our customers the most sustainable and innovative acoustical solutions in the industry."

The plant’s reopening is the most recent example of CertainTeed’s commitment to its reemerging ceilings business.

In January 2013, the company formed a joint venture with Bailey Metal Products Limited of Concord, Ontario — the largest lightweight steel framing manufacturer in Canada. With the joint venture, CertainTeed Ceilings brings a combination of technical expertise and production capacity to the North American market, providing customers with a single source for high-quality ceiling panels and grid systems.

Earlier this year, the company announced the opening of a new state-of-the-art research and development facility in Kulpsville, Pa., ensuring its acoustical products are fine-tuned for optimal performance. CertainTeed also operates ceiling panel plants in L’Anse, Mich., and Plymouth, Wis., as well as ceiling grid production facility in Ellenton, Fla.

Already this year, CertainTeed Ceilings has introduced six new products, including high-density fiberglass Ecophon® Wall Panels, Gyptone® BIG Quattro 46 perforated acoustical gypsum panels, and the innovative Rx Symphony® family of ceiling panels optimized for healthcare settings. The company also continued to build on its industry-leading portfolio of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) by certifying Symphony® m mineral fiber and VOC Compliant Symphony® f fiberglass ceiling panels through UL Environment.

As experts in the science of sound, CertainTeed Ceilings serves as a single source for high-quality ceilings that create acoustically friendly, aesthetically captivating environments. Encompassing the Performa®, Ecophon and Gyptone brands along with Decoustics® — a leader in high-precision, custom-engineered solutions — the company offers the perfect balance of innovation, budget and beauty with products that range from basic high-performance panels to premium, customizable systems. Through its Environmental Acoustics design and research, CertainTeed Ceilings provides solutions that promote healthier interiors while having a smaller impact on the environment. The company offers ceiling panels with one of the highest concentrations of recycled content in the industry as well as a recycling program for used ceiling panels. CertainTeed Ceilings is the first ceilings manufacturer to issue Environmental Product Declarations through UL Environment and The Green Standard. For more information, visit www.certainteed.com.

About CertainTeed
Through the responsible development of innovative and sustainable building products, CertainTeed, headquartered in Valley Forge, Pa., has helped shape the building products industry for more than 100 years. Founded in 1904 as General Roofing Manufacturing Company, the firm's slogan "Quality Made Certain, Satisfaction Guaranteed," quickly inspired the name CertainTeed. Today, CertainTeed® is North America’s leading brand of exterior and interior building products, including roofing, siding, fence, decking, railing, trim, insulation, gypsum and ceilings.

A subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building products company, CertainTeed and its affiliates have more than 5,700 employees and more than 60 manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and Canada. For five consecutive years, the company has received top honors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its contributions in protecting the environment and was most recently the recipient of the 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award. The group had total sales of approximately $3.3 billion in 2012. www.certainteed.com

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Turner's Building Cost Index Increase Driven by Growth in Larger, Urban Markets
Index Shows Four Percent Annual Increase in Construction Costs

Turner Construction Company announced that the Second Quarter 2013 Turner Building Cost Index – which measures costs in the non-residential building construction market in the United States – has increased to a value of 859. This reflects a 1.18% increase from the First Quarter 2013 and 4.00% yearly increase from the Second Quarter 2012.

"Larger urban markets appear to be expanding more rapidly than other regions. Contributing to the increase in construction costs is the limited capacity among those trade contractors with the available resources to manage and work on large, complex projects," said Karl F. Almstead, the Turner vice president in charge of the Cost Index. He continued, "While lower global demand is maintaining downward pressure on material and equipment costs, there is upward pressure on specialty equipment and material costs in growing building types such as data centers."

Approximately 90% of Turner's business is performed under contract arrangements where Turner provides extensive preconstruction planning services before the contract price is fixed and before construction starts. By providing preconstruction services and utilizing enhanced procurement strategies, Turner effectively manages the market risks associated with cost-related issues.

Turner has prepared the construction cost forecast for more than 80 years. Used widely by the construction industry and Federal and State governments, the building costs and price trends tracked by the Turner Building Cost Index may or may not reflect regional conditions in any given quarter. The Cost Index is determined by several factors considered on a nationwide basis, including labor rates and productivity, material prices and the competitive condition of the marketplace. This index does not necessarily conform to other published indices because others do not generally take all of these factors into account.

About Turner Construction Company
Turner is a North America-based, international construction services company. Founded in 1902, Turner first made its mark on the industry pioneering the use of steel-reinforced concrete for general building, which enabled the company to deliver safer, stronger, and more efficient buildings to clients. The company continues to embrace emerging technologies and offers an increasingly diverse set of services. With an annual construction volume of $9 billion Turner is the largest builder in the United States, ranking first or second in the major market segments of the building construction field, including healthcare, education, sports, commercial, and green building. The firm is a subsidiary of HOCHTIEF, a publicly traded company, and one of the world's leading international construction service providers. For more information please visit www.turnerconstruction.com.

About HOCHTIEF
HOCHTIEF is one of the leading international providers of construction-related services. With more than 80,000 employees and a sales volume of EUR 23.28 billion in FY 2011, the company is represented in all the world's major markets. With its core competencies in development, building and operation, the Group delivers services for the entire life cycle of infrastructure projects, real estate and facilities. The focus of the related business activities is on four strategic areas: energy infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, major cities, and resources. With its subsidiary Leighton (HOCHTIEF share around 54 percent), the Group is market leader in Australia. In the USA, the biggest construction market in the world, HOCHTIEF is the No. 1 general builder via its subsidiary Turner and, with Group company Flatiron, ranks among the most important players in the field of transportation infrastructure construction. Because of its engagement for sustainability, HOCHTIEF has been listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes since 2006. Further information is available at www.hochtief.com/press.

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Construction Unemployment Drops To 10.8 Percent, Lowest May Mark In Five Years As Industry Adds Jobs And Hours For The Month And Year-Over-Year

Construction Employers Add 7,000 Jobs between April and May 2013, 189,000 since May 2012; More People Working in Construction since August 2009; Potential for Worker Shortages Grows, Officials Caution

Construction employment increased by 7,000 in May, helping to push the industry’s unemployment rate down to the lowest May level in five years, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the relatively positive jobs report for the sector underscores the need to address potential shortages of skilled workers.

“Although the monthly job gain in May was modest, both residential and nonresidential construction have been adding workers at roughly double the rate of the overall economy in the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “At the same time, formerly unemployed construction workers are finding jobs in other sectors, retiring or going back to school. These conditions may lead abruptly to worker shortages in parts of the industry, such as welders and pipefitters.”

Construction employment in May totaled 5,804,000, an increase of 189,000 or 3.4 percent over the past year. Aggregate weekly hours of all new and existing construction employees expanded by 5.2 percent from a year earlier. The unemployment rate for workers who last worked in construction dropped to 10.8 percent from 14.2 percent in May 2012, not seasonally adjusted, and the number of unemployed construction workers shrank over the year by 259,000 to 891,000. The latest numbers were the best May figures for each series since May 2008, Simonson noted.

Employment expanded in both residential and nonresidential construction in May, Simonson observed. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 5,500 workers for the month and 94,400 (4.6 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential building, specialty trade and heavy and civil engineering construction firms grew by 1,700 workers in May and 95,500 (3.7 percent) from a year earlier. In a positive indicator for future construction growth, architectural and engineering services employers added 2.1 percent to their workforces over the year.

Association officials said there was still time to avoid some of the future worker shortages that will come if the industry continues to add jobs over the coming months. They urged education officials to rebuild skills-based, or vocational, educational programs designed to help prepare students for careers in construction and manufacturing. And they urged Congress and the administration to reject the arbitrary caps on construction workers that are currently included in proposed immigration legislation.

“Just as contractors found ways to cope with the downturn, we need to make sure we are able to address the challenges that will come with the sector’s eventual recovery,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “One of the biggest challenges this industry faces is limited supply of skilled construction workers available to meet the kind of demand we all hope the industry will soon experience.”

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Construct 2013 Opens Attendee Online Registration

Online registration is now open for the 2013 CONSTRUCT show, taking place September 24-27, at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee USA.

Online registration is available at www.constructshow.com/Attendee/RegForm?promoCode=BN15, where information is accessible 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Registering in advance will save attendees not only money, but also time by not having to wait in long on-site registration lines.

“Early bird registration enables CONSTRUCT attendees to plan for and meet their business objectives for the show,” said Tom Cindric, VP of CONSTRUCT. “By spending only a few minutes to register, attendees will receive show updates, breaking news and ensure a place in their desired conference session.”

Registration Packages
The Full Education Package — the best value available — includes access to all educational sessions on Tuesday through Friday, as well as admission to the General Session with Keynote speaker, Ira Blumenthal, $24 ConcessionCash, Exhibit Hall and the Welcome Reception at Music City Center. Early bird prices are $305 for CSI members and $370 for non-members.

A special Government Package available for those with a valid government or military id — includes access to all educational sessions on Tuesday through Friday, as well as admission to the General Session with Keynote speaker, Ira Blumenthal, $24 Concession Cash, Exhibit Hall and the Welcome Reception at Music City Center Early bird prices are $305 for CSI members and $335 for non-members.

The Student Package available for those with a valid student id — includes access to all educational sessions on Tuesday through Friday, as well as admission to the General Session with Keynote speaker, Ira Blumenthal, Exhibit Hall and the Welcome Reception at Music City Center. Early bird prices are $115 for CSI members and $140 for non-members.

Individual Sessions are another option for CONSTRUCT registrants. This includes access to the selected session(s) on Tuesday through Friday, as well as admission to the General Session with Keynote speaker, Ira Blumenthal and the Exhibit Hall. Early bird prices are $95 per session for CSI members and $105 per session for non-members.

Your spouse can be added to your registration. The Spouse Pass includes complimentary admission to the General Session with Keynote speaker, Ira Blumenthal and Exhibit Hall. The Spouse Pass is only available to spouses of a paid registrant.

The Exhibit Hall Only option includes Exhibit hall admission on Wednesday, Thursday through Friday, as well as admission to the General Session with speaker, Ira Blumenthal. The Exhibit Hall only is FREE for CSI members and non-members with early bird registration. There will be a charge for exhibit hall admission after July 15th.

CONSTRUCT has other educational offerings including Technical Tours of Music City Center and the Tennessee Concrete Association and networking events hosted by CSI. Please visit www.constructshow.com/Attendee/RegForm?promoCode=BN15 for more information.

About the Events
CONSTRUCT is your most cost effective strategy for combining educational opportunities with practical, real-world, product and service solutions for your business success. This event is dedicated to the institutional, industrial and commercial building industry. If you design, build, specify, engineer, renovate or operate in the built environment, this is your event.

CONSTRUCT offers a relevant, accredited education program, an expansive exhibit hall floor filled with the latest services, products and technologies, as well as a myriad of networking opportunities. In conjunction with the CSI Annual Convention, the event is coupled with technical tours, activities and special events. CONSTRUCT is the only dedicated national event specifically designed to provide the commercial building team real-world, practical product and education solutions.

CONSTRUCT is produced by Hanley Wood Exhibitions, a division of Hanley Wood, LLC – a premier media and information company. For additional information about registration call (800) 920-0208 or email registration@constructshow.com. All other questions, contact CONSTRUCT at P.O. Box 612128, Dallas, Texas 75261-2128; call the main show line at (866) 920-0207 or (972) 536-6450; or visit www.constructshow.com/Attendee/RegForm?promoCode=BN15.

About the Sponsor
Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is a national association dedicated to improving the documentation, management and communication of building information as used by the construction community. CSI accomplishes its mission through the development of construction standards and formats such as MasterFormat and UniFormat; the promulgation of those formats through master guide specifications and building information management (BIM) software; training and certification programs, including the Construction Documents Technology (CDT) and Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA) exams; publication of Construction Specifier magazine; and an ever-expanding membership of decision-makers who identify and specify building product solutions. CSI members include a cross-section of specifiers, architects, contractors, suppliers and other construction project professionals who are touched by construction documentation.

About Hanley Wood
Hanley Wood, LLC is the premier media, event, information and strategic marketing services company serving the residential, commercial design and construction industries. Through its operating platforms, the company produces award-winning digital and print publications, Newsletters, websites, marquee trade shows and events, Market Intelligence data and strategic marketing solutions. The company also is North America's leading publisher of home plans.

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Construction Spending Level Edges Higher In April As Soaring Residential Outlays And Mixed Private Nonresidential Activity Offset Public Decline
Officials Call for Reinvigorating Construction Training in Schools, Rejecting Arbitrary Caps on Construction Workers in Immigration Legislation as Spending Trends Contribute to Localized Worker Shortages

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 $861 billion in April, rising 0.4 percent since March and up 4.3 percent since April 2012. Private residential construction spending inched down 0.1 percent in April but jumped 19 percent from a year earlier. Private nonresidential spending climbed 2.2 percent for the month and 0.6 percent year-over-year. Public construction spending dropped 1.2 percent for the month and 5.1 percent 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 multifamily construction, which soared 3.4 percent for the month and 49 percent year-over-year. New single-family construction rose 1.4 percent and 39 percent, respectively. But overall residential gains were held down by a decline in improvements to existing structures of 3.3 percent for the month and 7.0 percent 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 percent in April following a steep downward revision in the March estimate. Despite the one-month surge, power construction spending was down 2.8 percent since April 2012. The second-largest private segment, manufacturing construction, slumped 2.6 percent for the month but added 2.2 percent over 12 months.

Highway and street construction, the largest public category, increased 0.5 percent in April but slipped 3.4 percent from a year earlier, Simonson noted. The next largest public niche, educational construction, tumbled 4.4 percent and 13 percent, 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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PPG Publishes Updated STARPHIRE Glass Edge Color Guide
Four-page brochure highlights edge color in varying lengths of ultra-clear glass

STARPHIRE® Glass Edge Color GuidePPG Industries (NYSE:PPG) has updated the STARPHIRE® Glass Edge Color Guide, which highlights the unique jewel-like blue edge appearance of Starphire ultra-clear glass in varying lengths.

Traditional clear glass displays a light green cast that gets darker as the glass gets thicker and longer. When Starphire glass, the industry’s clearest and most transparent commercial glass, is manufactured and cut in longer lengths, its superior clarity produces an attractive color that adds brilliance to the edges of countertops, tables, glass doors, room dividers, shower enclosures and other decorative elements.

The differences between Starphire glass and other traditional clear glass products are demonstrated in the brochure using three-dimensional renderings. A chart illustrates their color edge appearances in thicknesses of 6, 12 and 19 millimeters, and in lengths of up to 130 inches.

To order a Starphire Color Edge Guide or learn more about Starphire ultra-clear glass and its unique blue edge appearance, contact your local PPG glass dealer, visit www.ppgstarphire.com or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA.

PPG: BRINGING INNOVATION TO THE SURFACE.™

PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty products company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in nearly 70 countries around the world. Sales in 2012 were $15.2 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol:PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

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Construction Employment Increases In 170 Out Of 339 Metro Areas Between April 2012 & 2013 As Private Sector Demand Continues To Accelerate
Pascagoula, Miss. and Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas Are Top Gainers While Bellingham, Wash. Had Largest Percentage Decline, Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. Lost the Most Jobs

Construction employment increased in 170 out of 339 metropolitan areas between April 2012 and April 2013, declined in 123 and was stagnant in 46, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that a majority of metro areas are adding construction jobs as private sector demand accelerates in many parts of the country.

“Demand for construction continues to grow in many parts of the country amid increasing private sector investments in new residential, energy and supply chain facilities like factories, rail lines and warehouses,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “These private sector gains appear strong enough in many parts of the country to outpace declining public sector investments in infrastructure and buildings.”

Pascagoula, Miss. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (45 percent, 1,700 jobs), followed by Napa, Calif. (36 percent, 800 jobs); Merced, Calif. (19 percent, 300 jobs); Baton Rouge, La. (16 percent, 6,600 jobs) and Lake Charles, La. (16 percent, 1,400 jobs). Two metro areas in Texas virtually tied for the most jobs added in the past 12 months: Dallas-Plano-Irving (11,500 jobs, 11 percent) and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown (11,400 jobs, 6 percent). They were followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (9,400 jobs, 9 percent); Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (7,800 jobs, 13 percent) and Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (7,500 jobs, 9 percent).

The largest job losses were in Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (-5,900 jobs, -5 percent), followed by Northern Virginia (-3,200 jobs, -5 percent); Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky. (-2,400 jobs, -6 percent) and Raleigh-Cary, N.C. (-2,300 jobs, -8 percent). Bellingham, Wash. (-20 percent, -1,300 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Decatur, Ill. (-18 percent, -700 jobs); Eau Claire, Wis. (-17 percent, -500 jobs) and Rockford, Ill. (-17 percent, -700 jobs).

Association officials said that improving construction employment was masking longer-term problems that could come from declining public sector investments. They noted, for example, that economic growth could suffer as aging transportation infrastructure forces firms to pay more to ship goods. At the same time, increasing construction employment means more areas could experience worker shortages in the near future amid a lack of available workers with experience in certain key construction skills.

“Declining investments in infrastructure and other public assets could ultimately undermine the very growth that is currently boosting employment,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “With hiring on the rebound in many areas, we also need to rebuild vocational education programs and rethink immigration construction caps to ensure there are enough skilled workers available to meet growing demand.”

View construction employment figures by state and by rank.

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BLUEBEAM SOFTWARE ANNOUNCES SECOND ANNUAL BLUEBEAM EXTREME CONFERENCE
Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Oil and Gas Professionals to Meet in August for a Day of eXtreme Learning and eXtreme Fun

This summer, professionals in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and oil and gas industries will have a unique opportunity to learn how to digitally manage project communication – all while checking out the thrilling scenes of extreme sports. On August 2nd Bluebeam® Software, leading developer of PDF-based markup and collaboration solutions for technical professionals, is hosting the Second Annual Bluebeam eXtreme™ Conference. Taking place in downtown Los Angeles during the LA X Games, the Bluebeam eXtreme Conference will bring together users of Bluebeam’s flagship solution, Revu, for a day of extreme learning and extreme fun.

“The Bluebeam eXtreme Conference is the ultimate event to learn how Bluebeam Revu and its integrated cloud solution, Bluebeam Studio, are enabling project teams to communicate and collaborate anywhere, anytime,” said Kristine Hopkins, Director of Account Services at Bluebeam Software. “With three tracks of sessions led by Bluebeam industry specialists, case study presentations and a power user panel, the Bluebeam eXtreme Conference is a great learning experience for novice users, Bluebeam experts and everyone in between.”

The Bluebeam eXtreme Conference will include customer presentations from Ryan Companies and Enermodal, a power user panel with speakers from Gensler, Balfour Beatty Construction and Stiles Corporation and three tracks of Bluebeam-led educational sessions for users of all levels of Revu expertise – Standard, Advanced and eXtreme. Additionally, the conference will feature a keynote presentation from Bluebeam President & CEO, Richard Lee, a Bluebeam eXtreme Awards luncheon, and a cocktail reception where industry experts can meet, mingle and enjoy the scenes of the surrounding X Games.

The Bluebeam eXtreme Conference is taking place Friday, August 2nd at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles. Registration is now open, with early bird registration ending on Thursday, July 4th. For more information, go to www.bluebeamextreme.com.

Bluebeam Software products are sold direct and through a global network of resellers. To learn more, visit www.bluebeam.com.

About Bluebeam Software, Inc.
Bluebeam Software makes smart, simple solutions for paperless workflows based on the PDF format. Founded in 2002 in Pasadena, California, Bluebeam's award-winning PDF creation, annotation and collaboration solutions are used today by the world's top architectural, engineering and construction firms, oil and gas companies as well as government agencies, accountants and even attorneys, for dramatically improved workflow and more sustainable, paperless operations. Bluebeam supports customers in over 65 countries directly through its Account Services team in addition to an extensive reseller network. For more information, visit www.bluebeam.com

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GAF Introduces EnergyGuard High-Density ISO Cover Boards

GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, announces the production of high-density polyisocyanurate (ISO) cover boards, which can be used as a protective layer over boardstock insulation or as a recover over an existing roofing system. These cover boards offer superior roof protection from foot traffic, storms, and hail, while also offering the benefit of being easy to install due to their light weight.

GAF offers two versions: HD with over 80 psi, and HD PLUS with over 110 psi compressive strength and a durable coated glass facer. Each of these boards is an ideal choice for protecting your roof from the elements and rooftop traffic. GAF EnergyGuard™ HD is a ½” thick high-density ISO cover board with an R-value of 2.5, the highest of any cover board—and, at 11lbs.(HD) 13lbs.(HD PLUS) per 4’ X 8’ board, it’s a fraction of the weight of gypsum cover boards.

Aside from its high R-value, which contributes additional energy savings to the roofing system and the building, GAF has the ability to ship three times more product on one truck than gypsum cover boards. Using fewer trucks means less carbon emissions, with the added benefit of taking less time to unload at the jobsite.

“Our new GAF High Density Cover Board is a key component for a more resilient roofing system from single ply to asphaltic,” stated Justin Hardy, GAF product manager at GAF. “The ability to protect a roof from traffic and impact while adding R-value performance is a game changer.”

To learn more about GAF, visit www.gaf.com.

About GAF
Founded in 1886, GAF has become the largest roofing manufacturer in North America. The company’s products include a comprehensive portfolio of steep-slope and commercial roofing systems, which are supported by an extensive national network of factory-certified contractors. Its success is driven by its commitment to Advanced Quality, Industry Expertise, and Solutions Made Simple for contractors, specifiers, and property owners alike. In 2011, GAF was the first roofing manufacturer to offer a Lifetime limited warranty on all of its laminated shingles and, in 2012, it introduced the GAF Lifetime Roofing System.

With a focus on social responsibility, GAF has developed Advanced Protection® Shingle Technology, which provides superior durability and wind resistance while reducing the use of scarce natural resources. The company has also developed single-ply and asphaltic membranes with superior durability and high reflectivity to meet the most rigorous industry standards while helping commercial property owners and designers reduce energy consumption.

GAF also supports the roofing industry through CARE, the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence, which has provided education to over 125,000 professionals. CARE’s mission is to help professional contractors and distributors build their businesses through sales and management education, and to provide product and installation training to contractors, distributors, architects, property owners, and related industry personnel. For more information about GAF, visit www.gaf.com.

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Vertigraph BidScreen XL Version 6.0 Release
Are you seeking the very best takeoff software for Microsoft Excel?

If you are, you can't go wrong with Vertigraph's new Version 6.0 BidScreen XL software. A new BidScreen XL ribbon is added to 32 bit or 64 bit MS Excel giving you the power to takeoff your electronic plans directly in Excel. Electronic plans supported include, but are not limited to, vector files such as DWG and DWF and raster files such as TIFF, BMP, JPG and PDF. With BidScreen XL you'll zoom, pan and measure the image while working directly in Excel.

Takeoffs are a snap, just click on a spreadsheet cell and electronically measure and identify areas, lengths and counts from the loaded electronic drawing files. The measurements and color coded drawings are saved with the cell and can be edited and printed. Customize your takeoffs by applying colors, count symbols, line styles and area fill patterns to your drawings. Sample estimating Excel template files for general contractors, concrete, roofing, painting and other subtrades are included or you may use BidScreen XL to record measurements to your own internally developed Excel estimating workbooks.

Some of the enhancements to BidScreen XL Version 6.0 include:

  • Operate flawlessly with both 32 bit and 64bit MS Excel.

  • New Excel Ribbon User Interface under Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.

  • New Project/Drawing Manager that clearly displays, organize and describes the drawing files with highlights and annotation capability.

  • Create and change takeoff styles with enhanced color settings, area fill patterns, line style/width independence as well as enhanced user defined custom text count feature.

  • Measure accurately when horizontal and vertical scales are different; BidScreen XL Version 6.0 is ideal for trench, roadway and profile drawing takeoffs.

  • New takeoff ribbon replaces the old toolbars.

  • Now delete digitized takeoff information with a single button.
    100% compliance with all PDF files when Adobe Acrobat Standard or

  • Professional Versions 7, 8, 9, X and XI is bundled.

  • Added Windows Themes now available for user display preferences.

Download a fully working evaluation copy of BidScreen XL Version 6.0 today. You won't be disappointed.

Click to download BidScreen XL working copy.

Click to view the BidScreen XL Version 6.0 brochure.

Click to go to Vertigraph's pricing page.

Click to go to Vertigraph's Online Store.

Click to review/print the BidScreen XL V6 User Guide.

Click to schedule a live demonstration.

For more information visit www.vertigraph.com.

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Architecture Billings Index Reverts into Negative Territory for First Time in Nine Months
Difficulty in obtaining financing for construction projects continues

After indicating increasing demand for design services for the better part of a year, the Architecture Billings Index has reversed course in April. 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 April ABI score was 48.6, down from a mark of 51.9 in March. This score reflects a decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings) and is the lowest mark since July 2012. The new projects inquiry index was 58.5, down from the reading of 60.1 the previous month.

“Project approval delays are having an adverse effect on the design and construction industry, but again and again we are hearing that it is extremely difficult to obtain financing to move forward on real estate projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “There are other challenges that have prevented a broader recovery that we will examine in the coming months if this negative trajectory continues. However, given that inquiries for new projects continue to be strong, we’re hopeful that this is just a short-term dip.”

Key April ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.6), West (50.7), Midwest (49.4), Northeast (48.2)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.0), institutional (50.1), commercial / industrial (49.2), mixed practice (48.6)

  • Project inquiries index: 58.5

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Builder Confidence Improves in May

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved three points to a 44 reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May, released today. This gain, from a downwardly revised 41 in April, reflected improvement in all three index components – current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers.

“Builders are noting an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies,” noted National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “This is definitely an encouraging sign even amidst rising challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor.”

“While industry supply chains will take time to re-establish themselves following recession-related cutbacks, builders’ views of current sales conditions have improved and expectations for the future remain quite strong as consumers head back to the market in force,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in May. The index gauging current sales conditions increased four points to 48, while the index gauging expectations for future sales edged up a single point to 53 – its highest level since February of 2007. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers gained three points to 33.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, no movement was recorded in the Northeast, Midwest or South, which held unchanged at 37, 45 and 42, respectively. Only the West recorded a decline, of six points to 49 in May.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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Construction Employment Declines In 32 States And D.C. Between March And April Even As Industry Adds Jobs In 29 States Over Past Year
Connecticut, Florida Lead Job Pickup for Month; Hawaii, California Top List of States with One-Year Gains, While Vermont and Illinois Trail for Month and Year

Construction employment declined in 32 states and the District of Columbia in April even as 29 states added jobs between April 2012 and April 2013, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials noted that construction demand in a number of states appears to be slackening amid federal construction spending cuts and relatively weak private sector demand.

“The industry shows signs of recovering but employment growth continues to be uneven, with some areas seeing stronger gains even as others continue to contract,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In addition, recent federal construction spending cuts amid still modest private sector growth is making it hard for the industry to recover in more areas.”

Simonson noted that Illinois had the largest decline in construction employment between March and April (-7,900 jobs, -4.3percent). New York had the second-largest decline in employment (-6,600 jobs, -2.0 percent), followed by Wisconsin (-3,900 jobs, -4.1 percent). Vermont had the highest percentage decrease in construction employment (-6.3 percent, -900 jobs), followed by Illinois and Wisconsin.

Seventeen states added construction jobs between March and April, while employment was flat in New Hampshire. Florida added the largest number of construction jobs (9,000 jobs, 2.6 percent) while Connecticut had the highest percentage increase (3.9 percent, 2,100 jobs). California added the second-largest number of jobs added (7,400 jobs, 1.2 percent), followed by Texas (6,000 jobs, 1.0 percent). Mississippi had the second-highest percentage increase (3.1 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by West Virginia (2.9 percent, 1,000 jobs).

Simonson reported that 29 states added construction jobs from April 2012 to April 2013 and 21 states and D.C. states lost workers. Hawaii led all jurisdictions in the percentage of new construction jobs (11.5 percent, 3,300 jobs); followed by Alaska (9.1 percent, 1,500 jobs) and Louisiana (8.1 percent, 10,200 jobs). California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (44,800, 7.7 percent), followed by Texas (41,500 jobs, 7.1 percent).

Among the states losing construction jobs during the past year, Vermont lost the highest percentage (-11.3 percent, -1,700 jobs), followed by South Dakota (-9.6 percent, -2,100 jobs) and Rhode Island (-8.6 percent, -1,400 jobs). Illinois lost the most jobs (-12,900 jobs, -6.8 percent), followed by Ohio (-9,200 jobs, -5.0 percent) and Indiana (-5,600 jobs, -4.4 percent).

Association officials urged Congress and the administration to reconsider its current approach of making indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts to a range of federal construction programs. They said the broader economic impact of declining construction employment in most states would cost more in lost activity and revenue than the cuts were likely to save. They also urged Washington officials to act quickly to enact long-term legislation to fund repairs to locks, waterways and flood protection.

“While the industry ultimately needs broader private sector demand to truly recover, boosting infrastructure investments will certainly help,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. “The last thing Washington should be doing is taking steps that undermine the sector's nascent recovery.”

View the state employment data by rank and by state.

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Construction Fatality Rate Declining Faster In Texas Than Most Other States According To New Analysis Of Federal Safety Data

Texas' 26 Percent Drop in Fatality Rate Between 2008 and 2011 Eighth Largest Decline Among States, Contractors Hold 10th Annual Statewide Safety Stand Down as Part of Efforts to Further Improve Safety

The construction fatality rate is declining faster in Texas than most other states according to a new analysis of federal safety data conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the state's construction fatality and injury rates have declined, as many contractors have spent much of the past decade focusing on improving workplace safety.

"While none of our members will be happy until there are zero injuries and zero fatalities on construction sites, the steps our firms are taking in Texas to improve construction safety are working," said Brian Turmail, the national association?s spokesperson. ?When you work next to heavy machinery in tight quarters - erecting structures and building roads and bridges - making sure workers are safe is essential."

Turmail said that Texas went from having a construction fatality rate in 2008 (the earliest year such data is available) of 13.1 deaths per 100,000 workers to having a fatality rate of 9.7 in 2011 (the most recent year such data is available). The state's 26 percent decline in fatality rate was the eighth largest drop compared to the 41 states and the District of Columbia where the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks fatality rates. Texas went from having the 32nd highest fatality rate in 2008 to the 20th, Turmail added.

Meanwhile, Texas contractors have successfully reduced the construction injury rate by 36 percent between 2003 and 2011 (the earliest and most recent years such data is available), from 4.4 injuries per 100 workers to 2.8. The state now has the seventh lowest construction injury rate among the 41 states and the District of Columbia were similar data is still available, Turmail added.

Turmail announced the new safety data during a visit to a Houston construction site participating in a statewide halt in construction activity, known as a Safety Stand Down, so contractors can provide additional safety training for their workers. The association spokesman said that one of the reasons for the decline in construction and fatality rates is that many construction firms in Texas have worked hard to improve workplace safety, noting that today was the 10th anniversary of the statewide Safety Stand Downs.

He added that many firms and local association chapters in Texas have created new safety programs focused on reducing the risk of falling on the job site, getting struck by moving equipment, and succumbing to dehydration and heat exhaustion during the state's long, hot summers. Also, he added, many firms and chapters have brought on new staff whose main focus is ensuring construction sites are safe and crews are using safety gear properly.

Despite the improving safety trends, Turmail said his association and its member firms will continue to hold Safety Stand Downs, offer safety training and partner with agencies like the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to find new ways to improve safety. "This is Texas and we can do even better when it comes to the fatality rate and the injury rate for construction," Turmail said.

Click here to see the state construction fatality data. Click here to see the state construction injury data.

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Housing Starts Slip with Multifamily Correction in April

A correction from an unsustainably high level of production on the volatile multifamily side was largely responsible for a 16.5 percent dip in nationwide housing starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 units in April, according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. However, permits for new construction headed solidly higher in the month, with a particularly strong gain in multifamily issuance.

“While builders today are considerably more optimistic than they have been at earlier stages of the housing recovery, numerous challenges are slowing their ability to get new projects underway,” observed Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “In particular, limited access to construction credit, tough qualification standards for mortgage borrowers and rising costs for building materials, developable lots and labor are impacting the pace of construction activity.”

“The big decline in April housing production was mostly on the multifamily side, which recorded a similarly dramatic increase in the previous month,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Meanwhile, overall permits for new construction surpassed the million-unit mark and the number of yet-to-be-used permits rose in April, which is a good indicator that the dip in building activity was likely a temporary pause due partly to unseasonably poor weather conditions.”

While single-family starts posted a modest, 2.1 percent decline to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in April, multifamily starts posted a 38.9 percent decline to 243,000 units. Combined starts activity fell 12.8 percent in the Northeast, 27.9 percent in the South and 6.2 percent in the West, but increased 10.9 percent in the Midwest.

Total permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, gained 14.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million units in April – the fastest pace since June of 2008. That increase reflected a 3.0 percent gain to 617,000 units on the single-family side and a 37.5 percent gain to 400,000 units on the multifamily side.

Three out of four regions posted double-digit gains in permit issuance in April, with the Midwest recording a 22.3 percent increase, the South registering a 16.0 percent gain and the West posting a 12.9 percent gain. The Northeast posted a 2.0 percent decline.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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Construction Unemployment Drops To 13.2 Percent, Lowest April Mark In Five Years As Industry Adds Jobs Year-Over-Year Despite Dip In Latest Month
Residential Contractors Add Jobs at Robust Clip for the Month and Year While Nonresidential Employment Rises Relative to 2012 Level but Slips from March; Association Warns of Potential Future Worker Shortages

The unemployment rate for construction workers fell to the lowest April level in five years as contractors added more than 150,000 employees in the past year despite a dip in employment last month, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that, despite the monthly drop, the industry is likely to continue adding jobs for much of 2013.

"It is heartening to see that both nonresidential and residential segments of the construction industry added significant numbers of workers in the last 12 months, even though gains from March to April were limited to the residential side," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Other indicators, such as the continuing growth in architectural and engineering employment, suggest that demand for construction will expand further."

Seasonally adjusted construction employment of 5.79 million in April was 6,000 less than in March, but 154,000, or 2.7 percent, higher than in April 2012, Simonson noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 13,300 workers in the month and 83,700 (4.1 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors, along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms, lost 19,700 employees in April, but added 70,100 (2.0 percent) over 12 months. Architectural and engineering services employment climbed by 2,700 in the month and 23,400 (1.8 percent) from a year earlier.

The unemployment rate for jobseekers who last worked in construction fell to 13.2 percent from 14.5 percent in April 2012, the lowest April level since 2008. Three years ago, in April 2010, the rate was 21.8 percent. The industry unemployment rate is not seasonally adjusted and, thus, can be compared to the same month in past years but not month to month.

"The ongoing decline in the construction unemployment rate is only partly a result of opportunities in the industry," Simonson pointed out. "Unfortunately, many former workers have now left the industry, perhaps permanently, which will make further recovery in construction more difficult."

Association officials said that if construction employment grows as expected during the coming months, it will become increasingly difficult for employers in particularly fast growing market regions and segments to find qualified workers. They added that a lack of domestic skill-based educational programs and arbitrary caps on the number of construction workers in proposed immigration legislation would make it harder for firms to keep up with growing demand.

"It will not take a lot of growth in demand before many construction firms are scrambling to fill positions with skilled workers," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "We need to provide significantly more opportunities for students to learn skills-based crafts like construction and avoid imposing artificial limits on the size of the construction workforce in immigration legislation."

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More Positive Momentum for Architecture Billings

All regions and building sectors continue to report positive business conditions

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting a steady upturn in design activity. 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 score was 51.9, down from a mark of 54.9 in February. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.

You can see this press release online here: http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB098531

“Business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But as we have continued to report, the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months.”

Key March ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (54.6), Midwest (53.9), South (53.6), West (51.9)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (56.9), commercial / industrial (53.5), mixed practice (53.3), institutional (50.6)

  • Project inquiries index: 60.1

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Rising Costs Put Squeeze on Builder Confidence in April

Facing increasing costs for building materials and rising concerns about the supply of developed lots and labor, builders registered less confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in April, with a two-point drop to 42 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

“Many builders are expressing frustration over being unable to respond to the rising demand for new homes due to difficulties in obtaining construction credit, overly restrictive mortgage lending rules and construction costs that are increasing at a faster pace than appraised values,” said Rick Judson, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “While sales conditions are generally improving, these challenges are holding back new building and job creation.”

“Supply chains for building materials, developed lots and skilled workers will take some time to re-establish themselves following the recession, and in the meantime builders are feeling squeezed by higher costs and limited availability issues,” explained NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That said, builders’ outlook for the next six months has improved due to the low inventory of for-sale homes, rock bottom mortgage rates and rising consumer confidence.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

While the HMI component gauging current sales conditions declined two points to 45 and the component gauging buyer traffic declined four points to 30 in April, the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months posted a three-point gain to 53 – its highest level since February of 2007.

Looking at three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast was unchanged at 38 in April while the Midwest registered a two-point decline to 45, the South registered a four-point decline to 42 and the West posted a three-point decline to 55.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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