Capitol Update – 07/18/2022
How much is a construction worker’s life worth? NY bill says at least $300,000.
A New York bill named after a construction worker who died at the age of 22 seven years ago would heavily raise fines for criminal charges stemming from jobsite deaths. Carlos’ Law, if signed, would allow courts to decide restitution from employers or supervisors with minimum fines of $300,000 for misdemeanors and $500,000 for felonies in criminal cases surrounding construction deaths. The bill has already passed through the state’s legislature and landed on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk after the State Assembly passed it June 2. “This bill increases punitive measures so that corporations and their agents who ignore or fail to follow safety protocols and procedures and put workers at risk are less likely to write off serious workplace injuries as a minimal cost of doing business, and more likely to give workplace safety the serious attention it requires,” Carlos’ Law reads.
Construction unemployment edged down to 3.7% in June from 3.8% in May with the addition of 13,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “With industry unemployment at a record low for June and openings at an all-time high for May, it is clear contractors can’t fill all the positions they would like to,” observes Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)
Construction contractor outlook darkens as profit expectations, backlog fall
Contractor confidence took another dive in June as backlogs, the lifeblood of future work in the construction industry, dipped into negative territory for the first time since January, according to Associated Builders and Contractors. Contractors extended their pessimistic outlook to a fourth straight month, with expectations for profit margins falling below a score of 50, indicating construction pros now think profits will shrink over the next 6 months, for the first time since October 2021. The outlook for sales and staffing levels also declined in June from a month before, though those metrics remained in positive, or growing, territory. Backlog, which tracks projects contractors have won, but haven’t yet started, dipped slightly, by 0.1 to 8.9 months. But that was higher than the year-ago number of 8.5 months, meaning contractors still have more work booked now than in June 2021.
The second half of 2022 should see some improvements in commodity and equipment prices for contractors, according to Jay Pendergrass, director of supply chain management and equipment at Gilbane. Pendergrass cites recent improvements in the supply chain and prices for such items as copper, steel and lumber, although deliveries often remain delayed. Full Story: Construction Dive
Bobcat is gearing up for 2023 deliveries of its Bobcat T7X, a compact track loader that will be the first of its kind to replace all hydraulics with electric power. The machine is part of a broader move toward electric power in the off-highway equipment market, which is projected to total $4.5 billion by 2028 with the potential to slash emissions in the sector by 59%. Full Story: Construction Dive
Dodge construction index rebuffs recession fears, hits 14-year high
The Dodge Momentum Index (DMI) inched up 0.3% in June to hit a 14-year high for the benchmark that measures nonresidential building planning. Manufacturing construction starts led the group and reached a record $41.6 billion over the last 12 months ending May 2022. That’s 161% more than the 12 months ending May 2021, according to Dodge data. This peak is largely due to U.S. onshoring efforts, as more American companies move their manufacturing facilities back to the U.S.
The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 1.1 percent in June. Prices for final demand goods rose 2.4 percent, and the index for final demand services advanced 0.4 percent. Final demand prices moved up 11.3 percent for the 12 months ended in June.
Inflation continued to rise in June with grocery prices increasing 1% from the previous month and 12.2% over the past year, according to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index. Largely brought on by global supply chain disruptions, high food prices will likely continue due to high fertilizer costs for farmers, although lower commodity costs could make future food price increases more moderate, analysts predict.
Full Story: USA Today
In June, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose 1.3 percent, seasonally adjusted, and rose 9.1 percent over the last 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.7 percent in June (SA); up 5.9 percent over the year (NSA).
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Specialty trade contractors added the biggest boost to construction jobs in the month of June, with 11,800 new positions overall.
The California Department of Water Resources plans to begin renovation work next year on the aging radial gates at the Oroville Dam spillway. Plans call for work to be done on one of the eight gates per year. Full Story: KRCR-TV (Redding, Calif.)
The Bureau of Land Management has granted Delaney Colorado River Transmission permission to begin building a 125-mile transmission line to carry renewable energy between Arizona and Southern California. The Ten West Link line is designed to carry enough electricity to power about 960,000 homes.Full Story: E&E News
The final precast girders have been placed for the $24 billion, 171-mile Central Valley portion of California’s high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The milestone comes after delays, change orders, cost increases and politics forced officials to limit the scope of the project to the Central Valley and potentially pursue the remainder of the line later. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet
Funds will go to the completion of the Central Valley portion of the state’s beleaguered high-speed rail project.
The Gerald Desmond Bridge at California’s Port of Long Beach was dismantled over the weekend as the 410-foot main span was lowered onto a barge. The bridge’s $1.46 billion replacement has been in place since October 2020. Full Story: KABC-TV (Los Angeles)/City News Service Press-Telegram (Long Beach, Calif.)
The US and Mexico have released a joint statement affirming plans to fund a joint infrastructure effort at the southern border to enhance security and efficiency. Mexico is pitching in $1.5 billion and the US will allocate $3.4 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law toward the effort. Full Story: The Hill