Capital Update 1/9/2023
A 1.7% surge in nonresidential construction led an unexpected and overall gain of 0.2% in construction spending in November, according to the Commerce Department. However, the $1.81 trillion figure was held down by a 0.5% decline in the residential sector, including a 2.9% plunge in single-family housing. Full Story: Reuters MarketWatch (tiered subscription model)
‘Good news is bad news’ in latest labor report
Construction’s job openings were largely flat in November compared to the month before, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The amount of unfilled positions for which contractors are actively recruiting declined by 2,000 to 388,000, according to analysis from Associated Builders and Contractors. That small drop — down less than 1% from October and 6% from a year before — signaled a continued trend in the industry: Construction needs more workers.
The outlook among contractors for public-sector construction remains favorable in the new year, although activity elsewhere is expected to lag, according to a forecast based on responses from more than 1,000 members of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Many contractors hope to finally see the benefits of a flurry of new federal investments in infrastructure and construction,” AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr says, citing funding under the bipartisan infrastructure law, the CHIPS Act and Inflation Reduction Act. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model) Houston Chronicle (tiered subscription model) The Denver Post (tiered subscription model)
Higher wages available in construction will work in favor of the infrastructure industry as it faces a number of challenges in the new year, according to Brookings Institution. The report examines five key factors for the next decade, including the need to replace 1.7 million workers. Full Story: For Construction Pros
Project delays and inflation marked a difficult year in construction across the board. Richard Korman, Scott Van Voorhis and Debra Rubin review some of 2022’s low lights in construction plagued by rising costs and other challenges that have arisen since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)
Data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates housing starts have fallen significantly in four of the past five months. Additionally, an alternative dataset on issuance of building permits shows they dwindled throughout 2022. Full Story: Daily Commercial News (Ontario)
Waterway types falling under federal protection have been restored to the Clean Water Act’s pre-2015 definition by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army. The Trump administration had narrowed the definition and excluded many waterways. Full Story: CNBC
Call for entries: Construction’s top women leaders 2023
Each year, Construction Dive spotlights dozens of the industry’s top women leaders in our Construction Champions program. With this year’s Women in Construction Week coming up March 5 to 11, we’re looking for a new set of pros to highlight. We need your help identifying the women who are working to shape the commercial construction industry. Please nominate yourself or a colleague to be considered for this year’s coverage of women role models. Categories include Rising Stars, Mentors, Tradeswomen and others. In the form below you will be asked to provide information about your nominee in a short essay. Nominees selected by a panel of editors will receive a mention in the Construction Dive newsletter and on its website during Women in Construction Week. Fill out the short survey below and let us know about the accomplishments and talents of construction’s standout women. Repeat entrants from past years will be accepted if they have not yet been selected.
AI is coming for construction, experts say
With its ability to learn, solve problems and recognize patterns at a velocity and scale no human will ever match, artificial intelligence is poised to reshape how buildings are designed, built and operated — and 2023 will be the year it takes hold. “Artificial intelligence will transform our industry in the next 10 years more than any other technology in the past 100 years,” said James Barrett, chief innovation officer for Turner Construction, the nation’s largest contractor. “It’s going to be huge because it has such broad application in so many cases. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.” AI and machine learning, a subset of AI that uses algorithms to learn from data without human programming, have been bubbling under the surface of construction operations for a few years now. But this year, Barrett predicted, “the growth curve is going to turn up really fast.” Combining the power of intelligent machines with human ingenuity, AI is the digital brain that makes industry-changing technologies such as robotics, blockchain and 3D printing possible. With its superpowers in modeling and pattern detection as well as prediction and optimization, AI can reduce expensive errors and worksite injuries; train and eventually replace increasingly scarce workers; enhance sustainability and circularity; design, maintain and operate buildings; and clean up and give transparency to the supply chain.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 in December, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5 percent. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care, construction, and social assistance.
Project runway: Granite wins $174M job at LAX
Award: Improvements on two runways at LAX
Value: $174 million
Location: Los Angeles
Client: Los Angeles World Airports
Granite Construction has nabbed a $174 million contract to construct new exit taxiways and reconstruct sections of existing runways on the north complex of Los Angeles International Airport, the company announced in a news release.
The project includes four new exit taxiways as well as the rehabilitation of hot mix asphalt pavement surfacing on Runway 6L-24R. Granite will also reconstruct the concrete pavement keel section on Runway 6R-24L.
The job will entail two major runways shutting down sequentially at the fifth busiest airport in the world. Crews will work double, 10-hour shifts at least six days a week for nearly a year in order to extend pavement life and improve safety and operational efficiency on the airfield.
California’s Port of Long Beach will be able to handle bigger ships with a planned $200 million deepening project that has received federal approval under the latest Water Resources Development Act. However, construction isn’t expected to begin for several years on the project, one of only five nationwide with goals that qualified under the US Army Corps of Engineers’ planning process. Full Story: Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)