SBE News

Capitol Update 9/11/2023

Contractors add 22,000 jobs in Aug.

Construction employment remained healthy in August, with increases across most sectors as contractors added 22,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry experienced a 3.9% unemployment rate, the same as in July and in August 2022. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

AGC survey finds widespread shortage of skilled labor

Of the approximately 1,400 contractors surveyed by the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk, 85% of respondents report open craft positions, and of those respondents, 88% of them are having difficulty filling the jobs. “These shortages are adding to the impacts of supply chain disruptions that have made it difficult for firms to get materials delivered on time and that are driving up the cost of those materials,” says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson, who notes that the survey results suggest reconsideration might be necessary on how workers are trained. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)  KECI-TV/KCFW-TV/KTVM-TV (Montana)  WTVR-TV (Richmond, Va.)  Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, Ore.)

$7.9B in leftover FHWA funds made available to states

The Federal Highway Administration has made $7.9 billion in fiscal 2023 redistribution funds available to states for transportation projects. States have until Sept. 26 to obligate the funds. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model)

Dodge Momentum Index down 6.5% in Aug.

A 14.8% drop in the institutional component led the way as the Dodge Momentum Index for nonresidential construction project planning fell 6.5% in August compared with July, according to Dodge Data and Analytics’ Dodge Construction Network. The commercial component also declined, by 1.6%, as lower office planning was partly offset by a gain for hotels. Full Story: The Construction Broadsheet

Pandemic challenges reshape preconstruction

Difficulties introduced by the pandemic have led to reconsideration of the preconstruction environment and how to minimize miscommunication among project stakeholders, industry observers say. The result is better and swifter communication and more progressive and inclusive delivery models that foster goodwill and promote risk sharing. Full Story: Construction Dive

Outdated building codes take focus at university forum

Florida International University recently hosted government officials, faculty and students in Washington, D.C., in a forum that covered progress toward greater compliance with modern building codes. Last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that two-thirds of communities had not adopted updated codes, a significant factor in damage inflicted by natural disasters, as well as higher energy costs. Full Story: Florida International University

Apartment construction surges

Twenty metro areas account for the greatest share of apartment construction, which is on track to total 461,000 units nationwide this year and mark a 50-year high, according to a report by RentCafe. The surge comes amid a chronic housing shortage and as higher interest rates and fees suppress homebuilding. Full Story: Axios

Plan advances for SoCal rail bridge

With approval from the Oceanside, Calif., City Council, a railroad bridge across the San Luis Rey River near a harbor could begin construction in 2024. The concrete-girder span, to be built by the Army Corps of Engineers, would carry two tracks to relieve congestion between San Diego and the rest of the US. Full Story: The San Diego Union-Tribune (tiered subscription model)

Hurdle cleared for Berkeley, Calif., housing project

A $312 million student housing project for the University of California at Berkeley has advanced after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to clear the way. The project has generated opposition over its location in a historic park, and construction was halted early this year over potential noise issues, a factor that the law eliminates as a consideration. Full Story: The Associated Press