SBE News

Capitol Update 11/17/2023

What the infrastructure law has achieved in 2 years

Two years in, more than 40,000 projects totaling nearly $400 billion have been funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law. The work has been spread across more than 4,500 communities in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, territories and tribal nations, as detailed in fact sheets for each state and in a mapFull Story: The White House  

October jobless rates up in 26 states; payroll jobs up in 1 state

In October, unemployment rates were higher in 26 states and stable in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 1 state and was essentially unchanged in 49 states and the District.

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PPI for final demand declines 0.5% in October; goods fall 1.4%, services unchanged

The Producer Price Index for final demand fell 0.5 percent in October. Prices for final demand goods decreased 1.4 percent, and the index for final demand services was unchanged. Prices for final demand rose 1.3 percent for the 12 months ended in October.

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AGC files suit to block wider reach of Davis-Bacon

A Biden administration plan to expand the reach of the Davis-Bacon Act is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Associated General Contractors of America. AGC is challenging what it alleges constitutes “unlawful efforts to expand a construction wage law to cover a wide range of manufacturing and shipping operations,” CEO Stephen Sandherr says. Full Story: International Construction

Calif. puts $4.5B reservoir project on fast track

Work on California’s first major reservoir in nearly 50 years is on an accelerated track under an order by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is exercising his authority to circumvent regulatory red tape. The $4.5 billion Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento would occupy ranch land in two counties and store water from the Sacramento River in years when water is plentiful. Full Story: The Sacramento Bee (Calif.) (tiered subscription model)  

Dodge index for Oct. edges up 1%

Warehouse planning boosted the commercial component of the Dodge Momentum Index to a gain of 2% in October, lifting the overall index 1%, according to Dodge Construction Network. The institutional component declined 1.4%, but “overall levels of planning activity remain robust and will support construction spending over the next 12 to 18 months,” says Sarah Martin, Dodge’s associate director of forecasting. Full Story: Dodge Data & Analytics

US invests $2B for cleaner construction materials

Low-embodied carbon construction materials are being procured for 150 federal government building projects in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 39 states, according to the General Services Administration. The $2 billion investment is supporting “clean manufacturing industries of the future and sending a clear signal that the homegrown market for these sustainable products is here to stay,” GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan says. Full Story: KSNT-TV/KTKA-TV/KTMJ-TV (Topeka, Kan.) (11/6),  U.S. General Services Administration  

Infrastructure law boosts construction job gains

A major boost from the bipartisan infrastructure law has supported the addition of 670,000 construction jobs during the Biden administration. The monthly average pace of 20,000 additional jobs marks a modest improvement on the pace before the pandemic, while total employment in the sector has topped the high achieved before the Great Recession. Full Story: The White House  

Fed’s Daly remains cautious on inflation outlook

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly has emphasized the need for caution in declaring victory over inflation, despite recent positive trends. The Fed’s monetary policy, aimed at reducing inflation, is still under evaluation to ensure it reaches the desired level of restrictiveness. Daly’s remarks align with Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s concerns about achieving the 2% inflation target, highlighting the ongoing challenges. Full Story: CNBC  

Fed’s Kashkari: Inflation fight not over yet

The Federal Reserve needs more economic data to declare victory over inflation, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari says. Though prices have eased during the past three months, “we need to let the data keep coming to us to see if we really have got the inflation genie back in the bottle, so to speak,” Kashkari says. Full Story: Bloomberg  

Construction adds 23,000 jobs in Oct.

The construction industry added 23,000 jobs last month, marking seven straight months of gains, although the construction unemployment rate increased to 4% from 3.8% in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specialty trade contractors saw the biggest gain at 14,200 jobs. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings increased to $37 from $36.83. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

AGC responds to Oct. surge in construction employment

With 23,000 jobs added in October, the construction industry more than doubled the number of jobs added in September, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. An AGC analysis of figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 5.4% increase in pay for craft workers even as contractors continue to call for more talent and as “both residential and nonresidential construction employers want to hire even more workers,” AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson says. Full Story: The Daily Reporter (Milwaukee)

8 construction-focused sites to find workers

Well-known websites for finding workers are general in nature, but new services focus on needs of the construction industry. Matthew Thibault examines eight of these recruitment tools. Full Story: Construction Dive  

Architecture Billings Index shows 3rd monthly decline

The Architecture Billings Index, produced by the American Institute of Architects, came in at 44.3 in October, falling beyond a low of 44.8 in September and marking the third consecutive monthly decrease. “The soft conditions were evident across the entire country, as well as across all major nonresidential building sectors,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker says. Full Story: The Architect’s Newspaper  

Analysis: Contech venture funding surges

At least 17 construction technology companies have exceeded $1 billion in valuation as venture funding in contech has reached $30 billion since 2014, according to an analysis by Foundamental. The analysis concludes that further investment is likely, even as venture funding overall diminishes. Full Story: Construction Dive

Experts: Construction benefits from onshoring trend

Onshoring of manufacturing could be a boon for construction firms, experts say, building on a pandemic-era trend with financial backing from the government. Besides building manufacturing facilities, updating older ones provides opportunities for private construction, Hanson Bridgett partner Stuart Eisler says. Full Story: Construction Dive

AEC firms hop on EV charging bandwagon

Despite consumer wariness, the government is pursuing a drive to electrify transportation, and architecture, engineering and construction firms are taking advantage. John Caulfield examines how firms are pushing for incorporating charging stations in design and construction and spreading the reach and availability of chargers. Full Story: Building Design+Construction

$6B in federal funding targets climate resilience

The Biden administration has allocated more than $6 billion to mitigate the risk of power outages, floods and other climate-related dangers in anticipation of extreme weather driven by climate change. The initiative comes as the White House issues the Fifth National Climate Assessment, which concludes that more adaptation is needed and features an online map of state- and county-level climate projections. Full Story: Smart Cities Dive The White House  

Survey: Builders still wary of advanced tech

Building information modeling and construction-management software are making significant headway among builders, but more advanced technologies such as robotics and AI are lagging, according to an international survey by construction technology firm PlanRadar. Overall, tech adoption is described as sluggish, attributed to traditional attitudes and a perceived slender return on investment. Full Story: Global Construction Review (UK)

Texas stiffens fine for drivers failing to move over

A heftier fine of $1,250 has become the law in Texas for drivers who do not move over or slow down for construction workers, law enforcement officers or others pulled over on roadsides. Penalties could include jail time if injuries occur. Full Story: KIII-TV (Corpus Christi, Texas)  

Steel structure finished at San Diego airport terminal

Work on Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport has marked a milestone with completion of the steel structure. The first phase of the terminal is expected to open in 2025, and the second phase is expected to open in 2028, offering a total of 30 gates. Full Story: KNSD-TV (San Diego)

BART extension advances with purchase of boring machine

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in California has acquired a $76 million tunnel boring machine as part of a plan to bore a 5-mile-long tunnel serving a Bay Area Rapid Transit extension to Silicon Valley. The purchase further commits the authority to the single-bore project, which links the Berryessa Transit Center in northern San Jose to downtown and Santa Clara and includes four stops.

Full Story: San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (tiered subscription model)

Google changes plans for $15B mixed-use development

Google plans to proceed with a $15 billion mixed-use development in California’s Silicon Valley without Lendlease as the exclusive developer. Lendlease has said a partnership with Google on the development ended after “a determination by both organizations that the existing agreements are no longer mutually beneficial given current market conditions.” Full Story: SFGate (San Francisco)

Granite leads venture for $131M bridge project in Calif.

The California Department of Transportation has awarded a joint venture of Granite Construction and California Engineering Contractors a $131 million contract to rehabilitate the six-lane American River Bridge in Sacramento. The three-stage plan calls for early contractor involvement to build a superstructure to replace the deck under a construction manager/general contractor arrangement. Full Story: International Construction

Multiple factors inflate cost to reinforce Calif. dam

Changes to spillway design and rising labor and materials costs are inflating the cost of upgrading the seismic resilience of Anderson Dam in Santa Clara County, Calif. The latest estimate is $2.3 billion, twice the estimate in 2022 and thrice the estimate in 2021. Full Story: San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (tiered subscription model)