Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Housing Leads Construction Comeback

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Comment | More

U.S. construction is off to a roaring start in 2014, with both employment and spending increases notching their highest levels in years, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The construction industry added 15,000 jobs in February, bringing industry employment to its highest level—almost 6 million jobs—since June 2009, AGC reported March 7.

"The rate of construction hiring has outpaced job growth in the overall economy for the past year," said Ken Simonson, AGC's chief economist. "During that time, all construction segments have added workers."

Associated General Contractors of America
AGC

All construction segments added workers in the past year, and the industry reached its highest employment total in four and one-half years, according to AGC.

Indeed, the growth has been so robust that the association is again warning of possible shortages in skilled workers.

AGC also announced that this January recorded the greatest year-over-year increase in total construction spending since 2006, with public construction, private residential and nonresidential spending all contributing to the jump—a gain that could prove fragile, the association cautioned, if Congress doesn't deal with rapidly declining federal funding.

Where the Jobs Are

Construction employment reached 5,941,000 in February, its highest total in 4.5 years and an increase of 152,000 (2.6 percent) over last year. 

The residential construction segment took the lead, adding 1,700 workers in February and 101,200 (4.8 percent) over 12 months.

Since January, nonresidential construction added 12,700 employees; 50,600 employees (1.4 percent) were added since February 2013. 

The unemployment rate was 12.8 percent in February 2014 and 15.7 percent in February 2013. Workers who were last employed in construction and were actively looking for jobs saw their unemployment rate drop to its lowest February number since 2008.

The February 2014 unemployment rate for construction workers was less than half the 27.1 percent recorded in February 2010, Simonson said. The industry added 438,000 jobs in that four-year period, while the number of unemployed workers who last worked in construction declined by 1.34 million, according to the association. 

1M Experienced Workers Lost

Looking forward, Simonson says multifamily, manufacturing and oil- and gas-related facilities will generate "particularly strong demand for workers."

construction industry employment
AGC

"Unless we find a way to get more students to consider and train for careers in construction, many firms will get to a point where they don't have enough workers to keep pace with demand," AGC said.

Many firms have been reporting difficulty in finding skilled workers, AGC noted.

"In the past four years, nearly a million experienced workers have left the industry for jobs in other sectors, retirement or school. They are no longer available for immediate recall to construction jobs," Simonson said. 

In a nationwide survey by AGC earlier this year, two-thirds of respondents said they were having a hard time finding qualified workers to fill key positions and expected workforce conditions to remain tough for the next year.

The association has urged federal, state and local officials to enact measures that will make it easier to establish training programs at schools, firms and local construction associations. 

"Unless we find a way to get more students to consider and train for careers in construction, many firms will get to a point where they don't have enough workers to keep pace with demand," said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC's CEO. 

Spending Gains

The increase in construction spending from December to January over the prior-year figures trumped "uncommonly adverse weather conditions," Simonson said. 

The monthly gains were from single-home and multifamily construction, but private nonresidential work is expected to bounce back in the next few months, he added. 

January totals for construction put in place reached $943 billion—0.1 percent higher than the December total, which was up $12 billion from the initial estimate. Year-over-year, this January was 9.3 percent higher than January 2013—the fastest rate of growth in total construction spending since May 2006, according to AGC. 

Residential interior
© iStock / thomas lehmann

Private residential construction spending climbed 15 percent in the last year. Construction put in place jumped 9.3 percent from January 2013 to January 2014.

Private residential construction spending increased by 15 percent over the last 12 months, and by 1.1 percent in January. 

Private nonresidential construction spending saw a decrease of 0.2 percent for the month, but jumped by 9.7 percent compared to January 2013. 

The public construction sector slipped 0.8 percent for the month, but increased 2.5 percent from the prior year.

AGC's report was based on an analysis of Census Bureau data on construction spending, but Simonson said the bureau's estimates for January and December may not accurately reflect the impact of winter weather. 

Public Construction 'Questionable'

Preliminary data shows highway and street construction spending jumping 3.7 percent in January and 15 percent year-over-year, but AGC warned that funding shortfalls could lead to a quick decline in federal investments in highway repairs, "undermining the sector's recovery." 

"Public construction is up for now on a year-over-year basis, but funding remains questionable," Simonson said.

In January, the Department of Transportation announced that the federal Highway Trust Fund could go broke as soon as August. 

President Obama has since proposed a $302 billion, four-year surface transportation reauthorization budget. 

But Sandherr cautioned: "Even with spending on the rise, the construction industry remains vulnerable to any sudden downturn in demand. Letting highway investments lapse will only hurt overall economic growth and put more construction jobs at risk." 

AGC has urged Congress and the President to work together to pass new transportation funding measures as quickly as possible. 

   

Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); Construction; Department of Transportation (DOT); Economy; Funding; Good Technical Practice; Jobs; Residential Construction; Roads/Highways

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


Advertisements
 
KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office

 
Fischer Technology Inc.

 
SAFE Systems, Inc.

 
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America

 
NLB Corporation

 
Sauereisen, Inc.

 
DeFelsko Corporation

 
HoldTight Solutions Inc.

 
Modern Safety Techniques

 
Tarps manufacturing, Inc.

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us