SBE News

Capitol Update 5/8/2023

Payroll employment rises by 253,000 in April; unemployment rate changes little at 3.4%

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 253,000 in April, and the unemployment rate changed little at 3.4 percent. Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality, and social assistance.

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Manchin looks to speed infrastructure permitting

A bill introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., aims to streamline permitting by setting a 150-day limit for legal challenges to infrastructure projects and by setting deadlines of two years for environmental reviews of major infrastructure projects. The bill, which could give new life to the contested Mountain Valley pipeline project in the Virginias, mirrors language that failed to make it into the final version of last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)  

N.Y. passes all-electric mandate for new construction

New York lawmakers have approved a $229 billion state budget that includes a requirement for new buildings shorter than seven stories to operate without fossil fuel combustion by 2026, and for new construction taller than seven stories to go all-electric by 2029. There are some commercial exemptions to the requirement, but cities and counties cannot supersede it. Full Story: The Washington Post

Concerns mount over Calif. electric truck fleet mandate

California’s new regulations requiring large trucking fleets to transition to 100% electric power by 2045 have construction and logistics firms concerned for held-up projects and increased costs. While the Advanced Clean Fleet rules mainly affect trucking firms, they will also affect construction because they overlap with other regulations governing off-road diesel engines. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)  

House Democrats unveil infrastructure permitting draft

House Democrats on Thursday unveiled a draft proposal for infrastructure permitting changes that outlines the party’s priorities and could pave the way for further negotiations with Republican leaders. The House Republicans’ version largely focuses on accelerated environmental reviews for infrastructure projects, while Democrats are prioritizing renewables, electrical infrastructure and greater participation in permitting at the local level. Full Story: The Hill  

US construction spending up 0.3% in March

The Commerce Department reported a 0.3% gain in US construction spending in March, topping expectations after a 0.3% decline in February. The improvement, which amounted to 3.8% on a year-to-year basis, was fueled by a 1% gain in the private nonresidential sector. Full Story: Reuters  

Caterpillar reports 17% increase in Q1 sales

Caterpillar saw a 17% increase in first-quarter sales and revenue from the year-ago period, citing price and volume growth and healthy demand in the residential and nonresidential segments. Infrastructure and other construction projects are expected to contribute to an expansion in the North American market. Full Story: Equipment World

Construction job openings down in March

Construction sector job openings fell to 341,000 in March from 404,000 the previous month, in parallel with an overall decline in openings across the US economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total job openings in March of 9.6 million is the lowest number in nearly a year and suggests that efforts to ease inflation are working. Full Story: Dodge Data & Analytics  

Mixed consumer choices add to economic uncertainty

US consumers continue to spend even as they worry about job security and high prices, according to consultant McKinsey’s latest US Consumer Pulse Survey. The result adds to confusing signals elsewhere in the economy that are likely to complicate the Federal Reserve’s decision-making as inflation remains well above target. Full Story: McKinsey

White House seeks public input on workplace monitoring

The Biden administration is inviting comments on new technologies, including artificial intelligence, that can track and monitor employees in the workplace. Potential concerns include pressure to work too fast and compromise safety, as well as possible infringement of workers’ constitutional rights to organize. Full Story: HR Dive  

AI, ramped up rule enforcement keep workers safe

To mark Construction Safety Week, Construction Dive offers a recap of some of its latest articles on the subject. Topics include the use of artificial intelligence and other technologies, road safety, sharper enforcement of rules and safety trends since the start of the pandemic. Full Story: Construction Dive 

Granite Construction tapped for Calif. weir project

Watsonville, Calif.-based Granite Construction has signed for $172.9 million worth of work on the Sacramento Weir widening project in California. Granite expects to begin construction this year on work that’s expected to take about three years, with the overall project to add 1,500 feet to the existing 1,950-foot weir while adding a concrete roadway on top. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)  

Calif. high-speed rail projects aid flooded county

Two grade separations have been completed for California’s high-speed rail project and will serve immediately to benefit drivers in Kings County, which has suffered from recent floods. Work on the separations was accelerated specifically to support communities affected by the flooding, says Central Valley Deputy Regional Director Toni Tinoco. Full Story: KFSN-TV (Fresno, Calif.)  

$628.5M resurfacing planned for Calif. bridge

The California Department of Transportation has shared plans for a $628.5 million resurfacing of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro. The project, which could begin in 2025 and close the bridge for one to two years, will address damage sustained during the structure’s 60 years of heavy use and exposure to salt and moisture. Full Story: Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.) 

Berkeley, Calif., adds to construction requirements

Over cost objections from developers and others, the Berkeley, Calif., city council has passed an ordinance to require contractors on major construction projects to provide apprenticeships and health care for workers. Officials say they will consider ways to keep cost pressures in check, possibly with more-tolerant zoning and fee reductions. Full Story: Berkeleyside (Berkeley, Calif.)

Gilbane finishes $125M mixed-use project in Calif.

Gilbane Building has finished construction on a lens-shaped 17-story mixed-use project in La Jolla, Calif. The $125 million NMS La Jolla was designed by architecture firm Steinberg Hart and spans 307,000 square feet. Full Story: Construction Dive  

Skanska beats 4 bidders for work on Calif. interchange

The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments in Alhambra, Calif., has selected Skanska USA Civil for a $267 million contract for work reducing congestion on the interchange of State Routes 57 and 60. Skanska beat out four bidders on the project and expects to begin construction in June. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet