The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 17, 2004

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Construction activity climbs through July
U.S. construction experienced a strong jump in the month of July, rising 5% to $595.1 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. For the first seven months of 2004, total U.S. construction was 10 percent higher than it was for the same period in 2003.

“The construction industry continues to be one of the stronger segments of the economy, amid concerns that the late spring ‘soft patch’ may be leading to more extended deceleration,” said Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. “Right now, commercial building has picked up the pace and even institutional building and public works are seeing modest improvement after their weak performance in 2004. The year 2004 is shaping up as another year of healthy expansion for total construction, which remains on track to top the 5 percent increase registered during 2003.”

The jump in construction activity nationally was led once again by residential construction which is up 19 percent this year compared to the first seven months of 2003. There are two reasons why construction workers in Michigan may not be enjoying the effects of this boomlet. Union workers are significantly under-represented in the still-strong residential sector – and the “non-residential building” sector only advanced one percent from January through July, 2004 compared to the same period a year ago.

In addition, during that period the Midwest sector recorded the lowest increase in construction activity anywhere in the nation – up 5 percent, while the South Atlantic region led the nation with a 16 percent jump.

Wage and Hour ready to help
The State of Michigan says it is making its Wage and Hour program more “reachable to the public.”

In announcing the opening of a new Wage and Hour Division office in Livonia, Department of Labor and Economic Growth Deputy Director David Plawecki said “we’re working to make our wage and hour program more accessible to employers and workers.” The new location, he said, “offers phone assistance as well as walk-in service to help the public with wage and hour questions and issues.”

Program investigators enforce and look into potential violations of state wage and hour laws. Specifically the Wage and Hour Division enforces four state laws that govern the payment of wages and benefits, minimum wage and overtime, youth employment and prevailing wages.

From Oct. 1 through June 30, 2004, the department established more than $2.2 million in penalties because of violations to state wage statutes. Some of the more common violations include workers being underpaid or not receiving a paycheck and prevailing wage violations.

Do you have a wage-related complaint or a problem? Following is contact information for the Wage and Hour Division offices:
New Livonia office: (313) 456-4906 (yes, the 313 area code is correct)

Lansing (main office): (517) 322-1825

Upper Peninsula: (906) 482-3602.