Capitol Update – 09/10/2021
Supply chain issues, weather changes affect costs
Seasonal increases in the cost of building materials are likely to be higher as supply chain issues from the pandemic continue, a problem exacerbated by the growing number of people living in high-risk areas. Changes in the nature of storms pose a challenge, too, with Hurricane Ida being an example of damage made more intense by its unpredictability and strong winds. Full Story: NBC News
Survey: Contractors face array of challenges
Contractors surveyed by Associated General Contractors and Autodesk reported shortages of materials, delays in delivery and scarcity of workers among the reasons for projects slowing down, something experienced by 88% of respondents. Fifty-seven percent of contractors say they have increased the use of technology, partially to deal with the worker shortage. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)
Is construction at high risk for COVID-19? It depends on how you look at it. There have been persistent contradictions between states’ COVID-19 metrics and the experiences reported by contractors on jobsites.
Are U.S. construction workers at a high risk for contracting COVID-19 on the job? It depends on who you ask, where you look and the type of data that is (or is not) available.
There have been persistent contradictions between construction’s available COVID-19 data and the experiences reported by contractors on jobsites.
For instance, a recent report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that more construction workers died of COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic than those in any other industry in the state. The industry represented 12% of all working-age deaths, even though construction accounts for only 6.6% of all employment in Colorado.
The war for talent: How contractors battle for workers – The industry’s labor shortage has escalated into a full-blown crisis since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what some firms are doing to compete.
John Mingione, principal of New York City-based Omnibuild, has worn a lot of hats since he founded his construction management firm in 2003 — but never, until this year, has he needed a detective’s fedora. As Mingione doles out jobs to subcontractors because Omnibuild is short on workers, he’s keeping a close watch to ensure the subs can maintain adequate staffing. “I keep my ear close to the ground, trying to spread the wealth around and not put too many eggs in one basket,” he said. In Los Angeles, Landmark Construction founder Ezra Laniado — also struggling to attract labor — is working on his poker face. He has found “the easiest way, which is the hardest way” to get and keep workers on his jobsites is to pay them more, but he has to be careful not to appear too desperate or they’ll ask for even higher wages. “It’s a delicate balance,” he said. “We have to be very foxy.” The construction industry’s inability to attract and retain talent, a major problem for more than a decade, has escalated into a full-blown crisis since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With only 80% of the 1 million construction workers who lost their jobs at the start of lockdowns returning, according to CNN, Associated Builders and Contractors announced the industry needs to hire 430,000 workers this year and 1 million more over the next two years to keep pace with demand. Construction is competing for those workers with desperate companies from every other industry in a labor shortage Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark called “a national economic emergency.”
Unemployment Data Update: March 2020 through September 4, 2021
Total initial claims grew in California the week of September 4 while dropping in the rest of the nation. In California, initial claims under the regular program grew 9.9%, although the data indicates the current week is an estimate by the state and is likely to be revised more than usual in next week’s data. Initial PUA claims dropped 4.2%. Nationally, regular program claims were down 2.7%, moderated largely by a rise in hurricane-struck Louisiana and as the result of auto plant closures due to parts shortages in Michigan. Total initial claims were up 3.8% in California, and down 3.6% in the US.
This week’s data is the last prior to the September 4 expiration date for the bulk of the enhanced federal pandemic provisions. EDD, however, has indicated they will continue processing claims covering the eligible periods which will continue to affect the data over the next few weeks
California moves to ban sale of gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers
California could soon ban the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers under a bill the Legislature passed and sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday. Assembly Bill 1346 would direct the California Air Resources Board to phase out the sale of “small off-road engines” by 2024, or as soon as the board finds feasible, whichever is later. Andrew Sheeler in the Sacramento Bee
Bill may raise penalties for unfair labor practices
Employers could face a change in process and penalties over unfair labor practices due to a provision of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act that may be included in a $3.5 trillion congressional budget resolution passed through reconciliation. Penalties could include personal liability and fines over infractions such as refusal to bargain collectively and promising benefits to avoid unionization, says Christopher Horton, partner at construction law firm Smith Currie. Full Story: Construction Dive For Construction Pros
California’s extra sick leave pay for COVID-19 to expire this month – unless legislators act
California’s special COVID-19 sick-leave policy, which has sustained many low-income workers during the pandemic, is set to expire Sept. 30, a change that is raising fears of new disruptions for communities of color and others disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. Shwanika Narayan in the San Francisco Chronicle
Construction jobless rate drops to 4.6% in Aug.
The jobless rate in US construction decreased to 4.6% in August from 6.1% in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The sector lost 3,000 jobs in August, all in nonresidential construction. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)
Arup/WSP joint venture to plan Calif. rail overhaul
California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit has selected a joint venture of Arup and WSP to plan and engineer a revamp of Northern California’s passenger rail system. The plan includes a new rail link between Oakland and San Francisco across San Francisco Bay. Full Story: The Construction Index (UK)
California Builders Alliance