The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 08, 2019

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Strong start to 2019 for U.S. architects

WASHINGTON - The year has started off well for construction contractors and their partners in the building trades - and the architects are happy, too.

"Starting the year on a strong note, architecture firm billings growth strengthened in January to a level not seen in the previous 12 months," the American Institute of Architects reported on Feb. 20.

The construction industry always likes to see good news coming from architects - their workload provides indicators of construction work in the pipeline. The AIA said inquiries into new projects and the value of new design contracts also strengthened in January.

“The government shutdown affected architecture firms but doesn’t appear to have created a slowdown in the profession,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “While AIA did hear from a few firms that were experiencing significant cash flow issues due to the shutdown, the data suggests that the majority of firms had no long-term impact.”

The AIA said demand for design services increased across all regions and building sectors.

Michigan still at top-10 union state

Despite its six-year-old right-to-work law, Michigan's was one of 10 states in 2018 that had a unionization rate exceeding 14 percent.

Michigan's 14.5 percent unionization rate was the ninth highest in the nation. There were 625,000 union members in our state in 2018 out of 4.32 million workers.  The numbers come from a Feb. 22 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report said in 2018, 29 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the U.S. average of 10.5 percent. Twenty states had rates above the U.S. average, and one state had the same rate. Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2018: Hawaii (23.1 percent) and New York (22.3 percent). North Carolina and South Carolina had the lowest rates (2.7 percent each).

The BLS said more than half of the 14.7 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 1.9 million; Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, Ohio, and Washington, 0.6 million each). 

As we reported earlier this year, the union membership rate—the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions—was 10.5 percent in 2018, down by 0.2 percentage point from 2017. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, 14.7 million in 2018, was about the same as in 2017. 

Long-term, the labor movement has been significantly diminished: In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.

The BLS also said nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 82 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($860 versus $1,051).