Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
Flooding, and all that it brings, appears to be the biggest result of Hurricane Florence that battered the southeast coast in the past week. Torrents of water have been pushed ashore accompanied by high winds leaving behind a swath of destruction. Once the rains subside and crews are able to assess damage it’s likely that considerable rebuilding will be required to bring the eastern shore of the Carolinas, Virginia and the wider region back to normalcy.
AGC conducted a recent survey regarding construction employment, and the result is not good. Chief Economist Ken Simonson reports that 79% of employers in Florida alone report having difficulties in finding qualified workers, and a response by 2,500 contractors nationwide found similar problems. Continuing this trend is raising project costs and delaying work schedules for contractors. Position needs for welders, pipe layers, electricians, bricklayers, drywall installers and concrete finishers are most notable. The survey, conducted along with Autodesk, found that 77% of contractors have raised their pay scales, 43% offer signing bonuses and 37% have improved benefits all in effort to attract more employees. Even so, competitors have continued to poach experienced employees.
AGC is also reporting that despite the problems surrounding the labor shortage construction spending increased for the first seven months of this year by 5.2%. Ken Simonson said it is striking how balanced construction spending growth has been in 2018 as it nearly matches the totals for 2017. Spending year-to-date was 5.4% greater than 2017 through the first seven months for public construction and 5.2% for private construction though the spending for residential projects was some 5.5% higher than for nonresidential.
The August jobs report from the Labor Department shows 201,000 new jobs were created last month - an increase exceeding what analysts had predicted. An analysis by Associated Builders and Contractors shows construction added 23,000 net new jobs, and to date has added 297,000 since August of 2017. The jobless rate remains at 3.9%.
The continued construction of wind power generating stations is bringing down the construction costs. The U.S. Department of Energy claims that 6.3% of America’s energy in 2017 was supplied by wind power. Texas leads the nation with 22 gigawatts of capacity followed by Oklahoma, Iowa, California and Kansas each with 5,000 megawatts or more. To put it in perspective, a megawatt of power is 1 million watts while a gigawatt is 1 billion watts of power. The average U.S. home uses 897 watts of power per month. As for price, wind power cost 7 cents per kilowatt in 2009 and last year was down to 2 cents per hour.
How to properly stabilize a crane will likely be the next exercise for a crew in Orlando, Florida. While lifting bundles of roofing materials onto a residential structure the crane outriggers sunk into the ground causing the mobile crane to topple on its side with the boom slicing the roof in half. No one was injured in the mishap, although the crane company was plenty embarrassed over the incident. The home has been declared unlivable by officials, and now insurers are trying to work out a settlement.
The controversial plan to re-engineer the troubled hub of California’s water network, the Delta Connection, has now ballooned to $20 billion. The idea was spawned 16 years ago, and the cost hike is attributed to inflation alone. Last year the Delta Project cost was placed at $16.3 billion. This year its up to $19.9 billion - a jump of 22%. The Delta Finance Authority has asked the Federal EPA for a $1.6 billion loan to jump start the controversial effort. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has already approved spending $10.8 billion on the tunnel’s construction as the Authority awaits input from other contributors.
Those of you who drive Interstate 95 have probably believed for years it’s a completed highway while in all actuality it’ll be finished soon. You see, local landowners and lawmakers in Mercer County New Jersey have long been opposed to the high-speed roadway. Near the Pennsylvania border drivers have been forced off I-95 only to join back up 8 miles away. That is until now. Two decades and $425 million have been spent to eliminate the roadblock just completed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. So beginning September 24th the addition of six bridges, flyover ramps and intersections will be a done deal, and I-95 will actually become a completed reality as well as the last infrastructure project financed by the 1956 Eisenhower National Interstate and Defense Highway Act.
And we leave you with the bit of knowledge: Goals determine your thoughts - thoughts determine your life.
This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.