Capitol Update – 02/011/2022
Economy gained a surprise 467,000 jobs last month
The economy gained a surprise 467,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate stayed relatively flat, rising slightly to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, according to Friday’s monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report also revised the number of jobs added in December, which had previously been reported as 199,000. The actual number was 510,000. “America is back to work,” President Joe Biden said in remarks delivered from the White House Friday morning. Citing “the strongest economic growth in nearly 40 years,” Biden said: “We have the tools to sustain this historic economic comeback.” “Making sure every American has a job is a great start, but it’s not the finish,” Biden said. The numbers suggested there was more resilience in the economy than had been predicted, despite the effects of the omicron variant on public health: Economists’ expectations had varied wildly, with some predicting a gain of 150,000 jobs, while others projected a loss of as many as 400,000 positions. “This unemployment report is incredible,” tweeted Julia Pollak, labor economist for the hiring site ZipRecruiter. “Had the prior relationship between Covid cases and employment held true, 800k daily new Covid cases would have led to 2.3 million job losses. Instead, we saw 467,000 job gains!” Job growth was strongest in the leisure and hospitality sectors, as well as in professional business services, retail trade and the transportation and warehouse sector. Leisure and hospitality added 151,000 jobs in January, with 108,000 added in food services and drinking places and 23,000 in accommodations. Americans’ comfort with dining out has stayed relatively flat for the past three weeks, according to a Morning Consult survey, showing the modest impact omicron has had on the economy compared to previous surges. Professional and business services added 86,000 jobs in the past month, led by gains in temporary help services as employers increasingly lean on temp agencies to fill open jobs in a tight labor market and hedge their bets against further turns in the course of the virus. Health care employment trended up by 18,000, but the industry is still down by 378,000 workers since before the pandemic. Teaching remains understaffed, with just 29,000 jobs added in January, still down 359,000 from February 2020. Manufacturing and retail both saw a slight increase.
CPI for all items rises 0.6% in January; food, electricity, and shelter indexes increase
In January, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose 0.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, and rose 7.5 percent over the last 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.6 percent in January (SA); up 6.0 percent over the year (NSA).
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Construction outlook: More starts amid old problems
Supply chain snags and labor shortages will persist at least through the early months of 2022, industry observers predict. The new infrastructure law is expected to spur gains in construction starts, but this “will be countered by continued high material prices, shortages of key materials and an acute shortage of skilled labor,” says Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network. Full Story: For Construction Pros
Dodge Momentum Index slides to 4-month low
Labor, cost and supply chain factors figure into a 7% drop in January’s Dodge Momentum Index. The monthly decline leaves the index at a four-month low but comes after a robust 2021, while the total value of projects in the planning stage remains strong. Full Story: Dodge Data & Analytics
Biden mandates PLAs on federal projects
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday requiring project labor agreements on federal construction projects over $35 million, according to a White House fact sheet. The order, which is effective immediately, impacts $262 billion in federal construction contracts and affects nearly 200,000 workers. Nevertheless, the new executive order does not apply to work funded by grants to non-federal agencies, which includes the bulk of the projects funded under the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a senior official told Reuters.
CAISO: Calif. must spend $30.5B on grid projects by 2040
Preparing California’s grid for a massive influx of renewables and net-zero emissions by 2045 will require a $30.5 billion investment in transmission and substation infrastructure by 2040, according to the California Independent System Operator. By 2040, CAISO expects California will add 10 gigawatts of offshore wind, 53 GW of utility-scale solar and 37 GW of battery storage. Full Story: BNN Bloomberg (Canada)
New White House guide breaks down IIJA funding
The Biden administration released guidance for state and local governments on Jan. 31 to help them identify funding in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The document breaks down available money by 12 issue areas such as transportation and resilience, and includes a data file that enables users to navigate IIJA programs by agency, recipient, program name and more. The White House expects to update it in coming weeks with deadlines and other details. The guidance also contains resources to help jurisdictions prepare to receive the money, such as links to partner programs and fact sheets.
‘A global infrastructure investment renaissance is beginning’: AECOM raises guidance as Q1 profits soar
ABC NorCal’s new CEO aims to advance workforce training
Associated Builders and Contractors’ Northern California Chapter Board of Directors has chosen Deborah Maus as its new president and CEO. Maus’ career has spanned over 25 years in strategic and operational leadership, including executive positions in transportation systems management with Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP USA) and the South Natomas Transportation Management Association in Sacramento. She made her move into construction trade associations in 2017, when she took on her most recent role as CEO of the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors of California. ABC NorCal, founded in 1976, ranks 18th out of the 69 ABC regional chapters in terms of size, with 447 members working across Northern California. Here, Construction Dive talks with Maus about her goals and visions for the future of the association and its members. Construction Dive.
New XL Construction CEO: ‘Huge amount of money’ on tap once materials prices come down
Headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley, XL Construction straddles the sweet spot between the tech industry’s mecca and the major life sciences hub of South San Francisco. It builds for major players in both sectors, including Google and AstraZeneca.But it also takes advantage of its California-centric focus by tackling higher education facilities at major institutions like University of California Berkeley, and medical center projects for clients like UC Davis Medical Group and Kaiser Permanente. Rounding out its building footprint in the Golden State are government and municipal projects for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (pictured above) and the County of Santa Clara, as well as the construction of a cargo building complex at San Francisco International Airport. Here, Construction Dive talks with Richard Walker, XL Construction’s incoming CEO, to discuss his journey from joining the company as chief operating officer in 2014 to the firm’s top spot, his plans to tackle the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and his outlook for construction in 2022 and beyond. Read More.
Construction’s union membership remains consistent, as numbers across other industries dip
The number of American workers who belong to unions continued to decline in 2021, dropping by 241,000 to 10.3% of the total workforce, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Last year, 12.6% of workers in construction were union members. That was a slight decrease from the 12.7% in 2020. The BLS also looked at the level of pay for union vs. nonunion workers, finding that nonunion workers tend to make 17% less than their union counterparts’ weekly salary. For construction, that gap is higher: median weekly earnings for nonunion members in construction was roughly 31% less than the median weekly earnings of union workers.
Construction jobs down by 5K in Jan.
The unemployment rate in construction rose to 7.1% in January from 5% in December as the industry lost 5,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job gains were posted for most categories but were more than countered by losses in the heavy-civil sector. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)
Super Bowl LVI stadium builder: ‘I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house
It’s only happened twice in 56 years. The first time? Last year. The Los Angeles Rams will become the second team ever to compete in the Super Bowl in its home stadium when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday. Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played at home when they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. Construction of the $5.5 billion SoFi Stadium began in November 2016, and the venue, the most expensive ever built, officially opened its doors in September 2020. The Rams share it with the Los Angeles Chargers, another NFL franchise. A joint venture from Turner and AECOM Hunt, the stadium boasts 70,240 seats — which can be expanded to 100,240 for major events like Sunday’s game — 260 executive suites and a unique design to protect from potential seismic activity. Additionally, the 2.2 million-pound Infinity Screen by Samsung video board is suspended from the roof over the field. Turner also constructed Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals home, in a joint venture with Barton Malow. That stadium opened in August 2000. Continues.
$5B added to Calif. high-speed rail project estimate
An extra $5 billion is needed to complete California’s high-speed rail project, largely due to changes introduced to minimize community disruptions, according to the latest business plan by the California High Speed Rail Authority. The cost is now an estimated $105 billion, more than double the original estimate from 2008. Full Story: The Associated Press
Locate information on state laws affecting construction
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Kaiser Permanente files plans for $298 million expansion at its Roseville Medical Center
Seven of the 12 new rooms in Kaiser Roseville’s neonatal intensive care unit are private, said Dr. Thomas Lai, head of neonatology at the hospital, but sliding doors allow nurses and other care providers to move directy between rooms to care for patients. Courtesy of Kaiser Roseville Medical Center Kaiser Permanente is planning a big expansion at its Roseville Medical Center that would increase the hospital’s capacity by dozens of beds. According to an application filed with the state Department of Health Care Access and Information, the healthcare giant plans to build a $298 million tower to house 30 intensive care unit beds and 108 surgical beds. The project will also include an expanded perioperative and emergency departments, inpatient pharmacy and support spaces. Kaiser today has 352 beds at the Roseville Medical Center, according to state records. The proposed is still under consideration and permit has not been issued.
Oceanside, Calif., apartment complex proposed
The Oceanside, Calif., City Council is preparing to consider a proposal for a complex of 295 apartments and 3,000 feet of retail space with a transit connection. The Ocean Creek project would add five four-story buildings at the corner of Oceanside Boulevard and Crouch Street near a Sprinter light-rail station in an already densely populated neighborhood. Full Story: The San Diego Union-Tribune (tiered subscription model)
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