The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, August 29, 2014

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

U.S. construction up 4 percent this year

New construction starts in July rose 6 percent from the month before to a rate of $588.8 billion, McGraw Hill Construction reported Aug. 21.

Nonresidential building continued to advance, supported by yet another robust month for manufacturing plant projects as well as improvement for commercial building. The nonbuilding construction sector (public works and electric utilities) also advanced, and at same time, residential building was unchanged from its pace in June.

For the first seven months of 2014, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were reported at $311.6 billion, a 4 percent gain compared to the same period a year ago. July’s reading marked the high-water mark in 2014 for U.S. construction.

“The construction expansion this year is getting more of a contribution from nonresidential building,” said Robert A. Murray, chief economist and vice president for McGraw Hill Construction. “Manufacturing plant construction is seeing the start of numerous chemical and energy-related projects, consistent with the nation’s growing energy sector. Commercial building is maintaining its upward momentum from low levels, while institutional building with its up-and-down pattern appears to be stabilizing after a lengthy decline. With residential building being limited so far in 2014 by the sluggish single family market, the further growth for nonresidential building has been needed to keep the construction expansion going. As for public works, this year’s pullback has stayed moderate, helped in part by the ongoing strength for mass transit work.

“The recent passage of a $10.8 billion ‘patch’ by Congress to shore up the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015 should also help to keep this year’s public works downturn from getting much more severe.”

Trumka: Labor could court Tea Party, too

LAS VEGAS (PAI)–Is organized labor, in its quest to broaden coalitions and add allies, ready to court Tea Partyites? AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has raised that possibility.

Trumka has made outreach to allied groups a key AFL-CIO goal. He convinced the labor movement’s convention in Los Angeles last year to open the fed’s doors to workers, unionized or not, and to environmental, community, civil rights and other progressives.

He’s made that point in speeches to union conventions nationwide, by pointing out that majorities of U.S. voters agree with organized labor on big issues, such as fair trade not free trade and additional spending on infrastructure.

In the midst of that same recitation, to the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association (OPCMIA) convention in Las Vegas in mid-August, Trumka threw the Tea Party into the mix.

“Working people may embrace a range of philosophies, religions and political points of view, but we are still united by the circumstances of our lives, and by the vision and the hopes we share,” he explained. “And so it is up to you and me, to each of us, to help bridge the gap for the workers who share our values, but who don’t yet see how our interests come together.

“That’s why we’re reaching out to all workers, even if they fly the Tea Party flag. I won’t write anybody off, certainly not the Tea Party populists, because when it comes to economic issues, we must stand together with anybody who will stand with us, so the voices of America, our America, can be heard in the workplace and in our national life. Together, we can turn cynicism into stubborn action,” he declared.