Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
Construction is smarting from the new 25% steel and 10% aluminum tariffs imposed by the trump administration. And, claims national real estate investor, even though Canada and Mexico are exempt from the tariffs costs have risen 10% in construction projects, most of that is based on speculation about the true costs 10 to 12 months down the line when the full impacts occur.
Dodge Data is reporting that the March Momentum Index jumped 6.1% to a reading of 155, up from February's 146. Commercial activity rebounded 9.6% last month while institutional rose 1.6% and planning activity is in full swing. Dodge Chief Economist Bob Murray says the maret is functioning at a decent clip as he terms it, despite rising materials costs and interest rates and the tight labor market causing strain.
The nation's job growth stumbled in March to a gain of only 103,000 after a bustling February. Construction jobs dropped 15,000 for the month. The Labor Department reports the unemployment rate remains at 4.1%. Analysts had predicted 175,000 new jobs created for the month. Bad weather could have affected the jobs market growth.
Contractors should take note that the Department of Homeland Security is increasing the number of audits and inspections of immigrant workers at jobsites nationwide. Home builders are being advised to have their ducks in a row as ICE — the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — is poised to conduct extensive document audits of employees including jobsites and subcontracted crews.
After the federal Department of Transportation notified the state of Mississippi that 378 bridges were deficient and recommended for closure the governor has responded. Phil Bryant has issued a state of emergency ordering the DOT to immediately close 83 city and county bridges in 16 counties across Mississippi. Stunned by the order, the DOT says it will comply and was reaching out to those communtities offering up detours and alternate roadways around the affected crossings. The action stems from a 2017 action plan agreed upon with national bridge inspection plan standards compliance issues.
When Congress included $1.3 billion into the Federal Highway Administration emergency relief account for this year, state DOT’s are lining up to receive the funding. The money is used by states for quick repairs from current disasters or reimbursement to states for road and bridge repairs even years after they occurred.. The unprecedented allotment is anticipated to happen fairly soon as other federal programs such as TIGER and Infragrants are to take place in June expected to total an anticipated additional $1.5 billion. ARTBA is encouraging state DOTs to take advantage of the additional moneys.
Liebherr International is on a spending spree and will build a new headquarters building at its Newport News, Virginia, facility. Liebherr plans to spend $45 million on a 251,000-square-foot expansion that will include a workship and production facility, warehouse and distribution. Since opening in 1970, the construction and earthmoving equipment company has expanded to 13 locations nationwide. Construction is expected to begin this summer.
April is National Workzone Awareness month, and we should all take heed of the need to adopt improved driving skills, particularly as construction is directly impacted by jobsite safety. Because 1 in 5 vehicle crashes in Texas last year resulted from distracted driving, the Texas DOT has teamed up with AT&T to launch its "Heads Up, Texas It Can Wait" campaign to educate motorists on the hazards of not focusing 100% on vehicle operations. Totaled up, their distracted driving wrecks amounted to 100,687.
After examining the effects of Hurricane Harvey, officials in Houston have determined that current flood plain regulations are not sufficient. The Houston Department of Public Works is proposing that all new structures in the 100 and 500 year floodplains be built two feet above the 500 year level — one additional foot from current levels. It's an effort to avoid the destruction that occurred from flooding during last year's devastating event. Costs are said to be $11,000 to $32,000 per structure more, and 33% of the buildings damaged by Harvey were in the higher flood prone area.
Finally in closing, never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.