SBE News


Trade deficit in Feb.: $89.2B

The gap in goods and services trade stood at $89.2 billion in February, representing a 0.1% pullback from a record shortfall in January, according to Commerce Department data. Imports rose 1.3% to a record $317.8 billion, while exports climbed 1.8% to $228.6 billion. Full Story: BNN Bloomberg (Canada)  Reuters

Construction jobs top pre-pandemic best

Total construction employment last month topped its highest number before the pandemic with the addition of 19,000 jobs, raising the March total to 7.63 million with the ninth straight monthly gain, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All but one sector had increases, with residential building losing 2,600 positions, and residential specialty trade contractors did the best with 10,200 added jobs. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

BLS: US construction job situation holding up

Employment in the US construction industry declined two years ago but has avoided the drop experienced in many other industries, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics charts. Meanwhile, a recent upswing in jobs in the machinery and equipment rental sector suggests broader gains in construction are imminent.

Full Story: Daily Commercial News (Ontario)

Construction industry begins to prepare for cyberassault

Digital automation associated with construction materials makes contractors vulnerable to hacking that could threaten the strength and integrity of structures. The construction industry’s reputation for lax cybersecurity practices makes it an inviting target, but some companies are making the investments needed to protect themselves. Full Story: Construction Dive 

Biden budget proposal a mixed bag for construction

The Biden administration’s $5.85 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2023 offers a significant boost to Energy Department programs, but the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and the US Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program would miss out on funding increases. However, the proposal would fare well for various transportation programs and the General Services Administration’s construction acquisition account. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

Payroll employment rises by 431,000 in March; unemployment rate declines to 3.6%

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 431,000 in March, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent. Notable job gains continued in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing.

HTML | PDF | RSS | Charts | Commissioner’s Statement

Job growth continues

In March, we added 431,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% – just 0.1 percentage point above its pre-pandemic level. Over the past 3 months, we’ve added an average of 562,000 jobs per month to the economy. These steady gains show consistent strength in U.S. jobs creation.

Read the BLS report    Read a statement from Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh

Rise in corporate taxes expected

Tax experts say higher corporate taxes are likely in store under the $5.8 trillion fiscal 2023 budget proposed by the Biden administration. The plan includes a 28% corporate rate, up from the 21% instituted in 2017 but less than the 35% that was in place before then. Full Story: Construction Dive

Dimon says confluence of inflation, Ukraine war may ‘dramatically increase risks ahead’ for U.S.

Jamie Dimon, CEO and chairman of the biggest U.S. bank by assets, pointed to a potentially unprecedented combination of risks facing the country in his annual shareholder letter. Three forces are likely to shape the world over the next several decades: a U.S. economy rebounding from the Covid pandemic; high inflation that will usher in an era of rising rates, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis now underway, according to Dimon. “Each of these three factors mentioned above is unique in its own right: The dramatic stimulus-fueled recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the likely need for rapidly raising rates and the required reversal of QE, and the war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia,” Dimon wrote.

More inflation, recession ahead: construction economist

Commodity prices will come down before the end of 2022 but supply chain issues will persist for years and a recession is on the horizon in 2023, a leading construction economist predicted. In a James Bond-themed presentation titled “No Time to Buy,” Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu emphasized the historic price inflation dogging contractors, with input prices for construction rising 24.4% year over year through February. Planned interest rate hikes will likely temper those increases by year’s end, he said, but will also lead to a short-lived economic contraction. “The Federal Reserve has engaged in eight interest rate tightening cycles since the early 1980s,” Basu said. “Six have ended in recession.”

Fed’s Williams signals possibility of larger rate hikes

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams says he is open to the possibility of a 50-basis-point interest-rate increase if needed to combat inflation. Stating that the Fed needs to be nimble in making adjustments, Williams says policy direction may change from one Fed meeting to the next.

Full Story: The Wall Street Journal  Reuters

Bill would clear pandemic funding for infrastructure

States and local governments would have greater latitude applying federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to infrastructure projects under a bipartisan $10 billion deal for pandemic emergency funding proposed in Congress. The proposal, which still requires congressional passage, would also allow 30 states to keep about $7 billion in ARPA funds that an earlier proposal had called for taking back. Full Story: Route Fifty 

OSHA offers guidance on safe working in hot weather

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state regulators are continuing to focus on worker safety in hot weather conditions, including efforts to reduce instances of heat stress and related illnesses. To that end, OSHA has shared a number of resources meant to help employers keep their workers safe as temperatures rise in the summer months. Full Story: SNIPS Magazine

AGC reports construction job gains in most metro areas

Salt Lake City led the way with 5,100 added jobs as construction employment grew past prepandemic levels in 58% of US metro areas from February 2020 to February 2022, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. In a further reflection of labor demand, construction employers hired 342,000 workers in February, but that still left 364,000 job openings unfilled at the end of the month. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet 

Report sees growing role for electrified construction

The market for electrically powered construction equipment will rise to $100 billion annually by 2042, according to a report by IDTechEx. Initial applications have focused on compact machines, but expanded usage will depend on scaling up powertrain elements for the most demanding tasks now performed by hydraulic machinery, the report says.

Full Story: Trade Arabia (Bahrain)

Construction workers to teach robots

Human construction workers will attempt to teach robots how to perform their tasks using interactive learning technology in research at the University of Michigan. The goal is creation of construction site robots that can handle physically difficult and repetitive tasks and make adjustments under supervision when unexpected situations arise. Full Story: Construction Dive

AASHTO: State DOTs key to infrastructure delivery

Emphasizing that “delivery is paramount,” a document from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials delivered to the Department of Transportation highlights state DOTs as “best positioned” to fulfill the promise of the bipartisan infrastructure law. Separately, the Federal Transit Administration has just distributed $20.2 billion under the law to the states. Full Story: AASHTO Journal  Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

Caltrans targets $34.7M for sustainable transportation

Sustainability is the focus of $34.7 million in grants announced by the California Department of Transportation. The state and federal funds will be applied to walkways, bike routes and highway improvements, with the total including $18.4 million in grants going to 57 local, regional, tribal and transit agencies to help adapt to climate change and natural disasters and for transportation and land-use planning. Full Story: Roads & Bridges  

Russian real estate investors scramble to sell US holdings

After Russia invaded Ukraine last month, the U.S. Department of Justice assembled a task force to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs, prompting many of the country’s wealthy citizens to sell their American real estate holdings, according to Fortune. Although the increased scrutiny may force Russians to sell individual apartments, the impact on the U.S. commercial real estate market should be fairly limited, industry watchers say. Russian outbound global real estate investment averaged just $330 million per year over the last five years, according to New York-based commercial real estate data firm Real Capital Analytics. “Russian ownership of commercial assets in the world’s largest property markets is sparse,” wrote RCA’s Tom Leahy in the report released earlier this year.

L.A. clears approvals for $1.6B Angels Landing project

A long-planned $1.6 billion mixed-use project in Los Angeles has taken a big step forward with official approval of various entitlements to build, according to developers Victor MacFarlane and R. Donahue Peebles. The Angels Landing project includes a 63-story tower in its plans for hotels, housing and retail space. Full Story: Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)

Hensel Phelps to build $1.7B Calif. medical center

A team led by Colorado-based Hensel Phelps has been awarded a $1.24 billion design-build contract for the $1.7 billion Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Replacement Project in West Carson, Calif. The project, which is targeted for completion in December 2027, will add new inpatient and outpatient towers, a garage, central infrastructure plant and other facilities. Full Story: Los Angeles Business Journal (free registration) 

Federal funds to spur levee rebuild in Calif.

The provision of $67 million under the bipartisan infrastructure law is advancing a decades-old plan to rebuild flawed levees along the Pajaro River in California’s Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. The $400 million project will relocate some levees while others will be rebuilt, with federal funds applied to the first phase of work. Full Story: East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

Sacramento, Calif., soccer club plans new stadium

The Sacramento, Calif., Republic FC soccer team announced plans for a stadium with 12,000 to 15,000 seats that could be expanded. The facility would be located in the Railyards section of the city and could be built quickly. Full Story: KOVR-TV (West Sacramento, Calif.)