Today we take a look at some of the top news stories related to the construction industry that have been making headlines over the past couple of weeks.
U.S. House Approves Military Construction Spending
On Tuesday, June 4, 2013 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 2216) which includes funding for military construction and Veterans Affairs (VA) programs for FY 2014. A majority of the funding, $63.1 billion, will fund programs for the VA but sets aside nearly $10 billion for Department of Defense military construction projects. This is a reduction of $670 million from FY 2013 funding levels. The bill also provides a little over $1 billion for VA construction spending. The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote.
Construction Industry Unemployment Hits Lowest Mark Since 2008
Construction Industry unemployment dropped to 10.8 percent in May with the industry adding 7,000 new jobs during the month. This is the lowest rate of unemployment for the industry since October 2008. This is good news considering the industry lost 2,000 jobs in April when the unemployment rate for the industry was at 13.2 percent. All sectors of the construction industry added jobs in May with the exception of the nonresidential construction sector which actually lost 2,600 jobs in May.
Grand Jury to Investigate Philadelphia Building Collapse
On Monday, June 10, 2013 Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced that a grand jury would be investigating the June 5th collapse of a building under demolition that killed six people and injured 13 others. The accident happened when portions a four-story building that was being demolished collapsed on a neighboring Salvation Army thrift store. An excavator operator, Sean Benschop, turned himself into authorities last Saturday and was charged with one count of risking a catastrophe, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment.
Construction Spending Rose in April after Dropping in March
The Commerce Department released U.S. construction spending numbers for April on June 3, 2013. Construction spending rose 0.4 percent in April after dropping 0.8 percent in March. This was led by a 2.2 percent increase in nonresidential construction projects. Construction activity has been seesawing up and down since the beginning of the year with it falling in January, rising in February, falling again in March and rising back up in April. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of spending was $860.8 billion in April which is 4.3 percent higher than it was a year ago.
South Carolina Bans Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements
On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill into law prohibiting state government entities from requiring contractors to sign a project labor agreement or any other agreements with labor unions as a condition of performing work on public construction projects. South Carolina is the 17th state to ban project labor agreement requirements on projects funded with taxpayer money. Project labor agreements allow labor unions bargaining rights to determine wage rates for all employees working on a construction project and sometimes also require that employees hired for the project be referred through the union and that nonunion members pay union dues for the duration of the project.
Construction Team Selected To Build Atlanta Falcons’ New Home
The construction team of Hunt Construction Group headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ and Atlanta-based Holder Construction has been selected to build the Atlanta Falcons’ new football stadium. The decision was made last Friday with negotiations expected to be finalized this week. The $1 billion retractable roof stadium is being designed 360 Architecture out of Kansas City, MO. Neither a site for the stadium or a final design have been selected yet. As part of a funding deal to provide $200 million in bonds backed by city hotel/motel taxes 31 percent of construction contract awards will be made to minority and women-owned firms.