[VIDEO] US Imposes Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum Imports from Canada, Mexico and Europe

Commerce Department announced eliminating exemptions for the countries from the aluminum and steel tariffs; plus more construction industry news in the June 7, 2018, edition of Construction News Tracker

Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

The U.S. has imposed steel and aluminum product tariffs on imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The Commerce Department announcement eliminating their exemption said the tariffs on its closest neighbors and allies was being subject to the same tariffs as most other nations. In retaliation, Mexico said it would impose duties on some laminated steel. While the E.U. announced duties on flat steel.

IHS Market and the Procurement Executive Group (PEG) reports that the engineering and construction cost index registered two points higher in May indicating both materials and prices came in higher than previous months. Their index, which covers a dozen categories of prices covering construction, show that fabricated structural steel, carbon steel pipe and alloy steel pipe just three of the areas covered last month with an index mark of 67.4. Concrete prices rose by 3.6 points on the scale while prices for turbines and electrical equipment though lower remain above the neutral point of 50. Construction costs have now increased for the 19th consecutive month according to IHS.

Contractors better have their reports in order when it comes to immigration enforcement. The federal agency reports that between October of last year and May 4th they opened 2,282 employer audits a 60% increase from 2017 arrested 584 employers on criminal immigration charges and lodged 610 civil immigration charges against businesses. ICE Homeland Security investigations unit claims it will open some 5,000 audits by September with plans to expand that number in coming months. Many contractors and subs are on the ICE list for audits.

Construction added 25,000 new jobs to payrolls in May a continuing positive trend. Overall, the industry has gained 286,000 jobs on a year over year basis the largest increase since April of 2016. ABC’s analysis of Labor Department data shows a net gain of 21,000 jobs in April revised upwards with nonresidential gaining the most jobs during the past two months.

AGC’s last analysis of Labor Department data shows 38 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs in the last year through April. Twenty-nine states  better than half the nation added jobs between March and April alone. Chief Economist Ken Simonson reports California added the most jobs in the industry followed by Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona. Surprisingly, West Virginia added the most new jobs along with Nevada, Utah and Idaho. Indiana and Wisconsin lost the most construction jobs in the reporting period.

Associated Builders and Contractors claims that with each $1 billion in construction spending the industry adds over 6,300 construction jobs. The estimate based on a model by Markstein advisors projects the need for construction workers on the $1.5 trillion national infrastructure program for 2019. If enacted, it would result in $50 billion in additional construction spending next year, $150 billion more in 2020 and $200 billion additional in 2021. By working out the estimate the report shows additional construction workers needed would be 323,000 above the baseline estimate next year, 960,000 more in 2020 and 1.3 million additional workers in 2021 a growth rate of 3% each year.

A new highway work zone safety study conducted by AGC shows 54% of contractors reporting auto crashes into their works sites in the past year. In 48% of those incidents injuries were reported while fatalities were registered in 24%. Further, construction workers were injured in 25% of the crashes and 3% were fatalities. Contractors say the accidents in work zones caused delayed schedules in 53% of the incidents. The industry has long sought work zone safety measures as has the federal DOT and its agencies, but the problems obviously continue. Gotta slow down and focus while driving.

In what is being termed a business decision, the team of Skanska Keiwit has withdrawn its $3.6 billion dollar bid for work on the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in Virginia. The joint venture team had submitted qualifications for an immersed tunnel construction method for the four lane tube to connect Hampton and Norfolk. Two other potential tunnel builders, Flour and Dragados, remain on the short list of contractors that VDOT is expected to select in coming months.

We used to refer to the roadway path as a criss cross; now they’re being termed diverging diamonds, and the nation's first costing $74.5 million has just opened at Sarasota, FL. The highway consists of a dozen traffic lanes that cross oncoming lanes and continue in a modified serpentine pattern. Florida DOT has developed the design and worked it out for a number of state highways under construction. The divergent diamond idea has offered relief to those motorists reluctant to enter a crossing roadway design fearful of a potential crash.

An obstacle is something you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

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