The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 09, 2015

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

2014 construction rises 7 percent

Total construction put in place for 2014 will be $62 billion greater than last year—a 7 percent increase according to the latest report from FMI, a consultant to the engineering and construction industry.

The group said “construction put in place” (CPIP) should finish 2014 with a value of about $972 billion, and then top $1.04 trillion in 2015.

“With new and apparently sustainable sources of natural gas and shale oil, America is on the verge of a veritable manufacturing renaissance building petrochemical plants in the Gulf and gaining interest from more companies, especially foreign-owned companies, considering relocating manufacturing to America,” said Randy Giggard, managing director of research services for FMI.

Commercial and manufacturing construction are two of the largest growth sectors, accounting for more than $111 billion in new construction. Lodging has experienced the largest percentage increase for CPIP in 2014. It is expected to finish the year 24 percent up from 2013, building on last year’s 25 percent increase. This sector now accounts for nearly $17 billion in CPIP.

Steady as she goes for U.S. construction

U.S. construction employment remained steady in a good way between November 2013 and 2014, expanding or remaining the same in 275 out of 339 metro areas in the U.S.

The Associated General Contractors reported Dec. 30 that construction contractors “in many parts of the country were benefiting from growing demand, yet labor shortages threaten to undermine the sector’s recovery.”

“It is good news that construction employment is now rising in two-thirds of the nation’s metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “But now that the unemployment rate for construction workers has fallen to a seven-year low, it has become a major challenge to find qualified workers in many fields.”

Wal-Mart gets caught stiffing its workers, again

HARRISBURG, Pa. (PAI)—Wal-Mart got caught stiffing its already low-paid workers out of their wages – again.  This time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw the book at the firm.

By a 4-1 vote on Dec.15, the justices said the venal anti-worker retailer owed 187,000 of its workers eight years’ worth of back pay – from 1998 through 2006 – for being forced to work off the clock.  Pay up, the judges said: to the tune of $151 million.

“This demonstrates that [this] type of shortchanging of workers at a mammoth employer should not be tolerated and that the justice system should provide some form of relief for low-wage workers,” said Michael Donovan, the workers’ lawyer.

Wal-Mart called the ruling a class-action case – a characterization the justices rejected – and said it might appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  “This was not…class action run amok,” the justices retorted.

The Pennsylvania Wal-Mart workers thus join their colleagues in other states, such as Minnesota and Colorado, who have been victims of the multi-billion-dollar monster’s wage theft.  The Pennsylvania justices also awarded the workers’ attorneys $45 million in fees and ordered Wal-Mart to pay three-fourths of that sum.