Tag Archive for 'employment'

CASE Announces Fourth-Annual Dire States Equipment Grant

Grant provides $25,000 in free equipment use to one winning community to repair and/or build local infrastructure or other critical systems. 
CASE Construction Equipment has issued the call for entries for the 2019 Dire States Equipment Grant. Submissions can be made at DireStates.com/Grant. The 2019 entry deadline is March 31, 2019, and the winner will be announced in April 2019.
Originally launched in 2016, the Dire States Grant provides one winning community with $25,000 in free equipment use to help offset the costs of building or repairing a critical piece of local infrastructure. Representatives of municipal, county and other local governments are eligible to apply. Entrants will be asked to describe the project and provide a detailed assessment of how that local piece of infrastructure will benefit the community.
Examples of suitable infrastructure projects include: road/bridge repair or construction, utility pipe replacement, erosion control along lakes and rivers, wastewater system improvements, school projects and park/recreational construction. All projects that fall within the 16 core categories of infrastructure, as identified by ASCE in its Infrastructure Report Card, will be considered.
The 2018 winner was Surrey, North Dakota. The community used the grant to significantly transform the city’s rainwater runoff and roadway drainage.
“We wouldn’t have been able to complete this amount of work in 100 years – and this has saved Surrey more than $100,000 in work that otherwise wouldn’t have been done,” said Keith Hegney, public works director, Surrey, North Dakota.
“Surrey represents the ideal Dire States entrant  — a community that was able to show the compounding benefit of infrastructure improvements on other elements of the city’s systems and future growth,” says Michel Marchand, vice president — North America, CASE Construction Equipment. “Entries for this grant have increased exponentially each year, which highlights the continued need for a greater focus on local infrastructure funding and development.”
“While Federal funding is critical to long-term sustainability of the nation’s infrastructure, it’s the network of local projects that most directly impact our daily lives,” says Athena Campos, senior director of marketing, CASE Construction Equipment. “At CASE, we’re working together with our dealers and customers to make a difference in building those local communities.”
All local governments in the United States are eligible to apply. A full list of rules and submission criteria are available at DireStates.com/Grant. For more information on Dire States, visit DireStates.com. For more information on CASE, visit CaseCE.com.

Utility Contractor Offers 7 Lessons in Entrepreneurship to Kick Off the New Year

Utility Contractor Offers 7 Lessons in Entrepreneurship
to Kick Off the New Year

 Going from selling directional drill rigs and underground equipment to running your own utility construction business requires a big leap of faith and a lot more. Scott Kandziora shares what he’s learned since he co-founded Milwaukee-based Underground Specialists in 2000.

1. Grab onto new utility technology 
Kandziora sold for Ditch Witch for five years out of college. Self-contained directional drilling equipment had just begun to transform the boring industry. “I grabbed on to the new technology because it gave me credibility with veteran customers,” says Kandziora. He trained crews on the rigs that he sold and saw a lot of people were not doing it right. He saw an opportunity to make money by doing things the right way.

2. Find a partner
Kandziora convinced Jerry Peterson, a former Ditch Witch principal, to go into business with him. Peterson had the industry contacts in Wisconsin and the funds needed for the start-up. “He really mentored me,” says Kandziora. The two worked together until Peterson retired in 2004 and Kandziora bought his share of the business.

3. Diversify your services
When Underground Specialists first launched, installing fiber optic cable for telephone companies was the primary source of income. By 2002, that market had dried up. “It forced us to go into the sewer and water market, where there was a lot more to learn about drilling,” says Kandziora.

When the government began subsidizing geothermal systems in the late 2000s, Underground Specialists pursued that market. They gradually added electrical and vacuum truck work to the mix.

In the last five years, the company expanded work in electrical, adding additional equipment and crew members to complete parking lot bases. “Diversification helps boost your sales,” he says. “When one market is down, another tends to perform well.”

4. Get utility crews invested in the business
Before Kandziora owned his own company he witnessed a lot of utility construction workers who just didn’t care about their work. “I never wanted to hear that from my employees,” he says. His solution was to create a profit-sharing system that allows employees to reap the benefits that come from working above and beyond on the job to help the company be profitable. “It promotes the attitude I want,” he says. When the company was too small to be able to provide health insurance for employees, he provided additional pay as compensation.

In today’s tight labor market, Kandziora is more inclined to hire less experienced workers and train them. “They don’t come with problems or bad habits learned from other contractors,” says Kandziora. Among his crew are a former landscaper, truck driver, roofer and a machine hand that are now all underground operators. Three supervisors are responsible for training the new hires on the drill rigs.

5. Be self-motivated
“I see a lot of small business owners sitting at home and waiting for the work to come,” says Kandziora. “I don’t think you can do that in this market. You have to be prepared to work long hours.” Kandziora believes it’s important to complete every bidding opportunity. “It’s easy to drop the ball and say, I’ll bid the next one.”

6. Recognize when you need to let go of the reins
Expanding from one crew to two crews in 2017 was a huge step for Kandziora’s business. “As a new business owner, it took me a long time to let go of the reins, to not be on every job site, controlling every aspect of it. It’s very difficult to let go and trust guys to keep the good name that you have been building. I finally realized that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to sell the company when I wanted to retire,” says Kandziora. Finding and keeping good employees becomes even more important when you grow.

7. Stay up-to-date on the latest products and technology
Kandziora recognizes the importance of staying up-to-date on technology but admits with a growing company, it’s difficult to find time for reading. “Attending ICUEE is my opportunity to catch up on what’s new and what’s out there and it gives the guys a team-building experience,” he says. The entire team is included because each person has their own ideas of what might help on their projects. At the next ICUEE show, he will be paying special attention to vacuum trucks, drill rig electronics, drill rig innovations, and trucks.

“At ICUEE 90 percent of the equipment will directly help us on our sites. The fact that we can get on the machine is a huge benefit. It’s different from any other show we go to.”

Save the date for ICUEE, The Demo Expo for the Construction and Utility Industries, Oct. 1-3, 2019, Louisville, KY. To get the latest information about the show, sign up for show alerts.

2019 Will Be …

By Greg Sitek

Prospects for the coming year are positive. Inertia alone should keep the economy going and growing. So much has been put in motion that most of the influencing factors have not yet had a chance to take effect.

According to the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation A strong labor market and healthy consumer spending are positive factors, “Indeed, preliminary estimates of consumer spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday reveal that online spending was up nearly 20% from last year, setting a record that underscores the current sentiment of U.S. consumers. Overall, recent data suggest that consumer spending should continue to drive economic growth in 2019.” The Foundation also points out that there are factors that have the potential of causing problems, most notably increased trade pressures and tightening of global credit.  You can find more of what the Foundation and other leading industry organizations predict for 2019 in the national section of this issue.

There are numerous organizations that have published forecast and other that will be published after the New Year has started. We will keep you informed on these as they become available.  Meanwhile here are glimpses into what a couple leading industry associations are forecasting.

ABC

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu forecasts another strong year for construction sector performance, yet warns about inflationary pressures.

Job growth, high backlog, and healthy infrastructure investment all spell good news for the industry. However, historically low unemployment has created a construction workforce shortage of an estimated 500,000 positions, which is leading to increased compensation costs.

“U.S. economic performance has been brilliant of late. Sure, there has been a considerable volume of negativity regarding the propriety of tariffs, shifting immigration policy, etc., but the headline statistics make it clear that domestic economic performance is solid,” said Basu. “Nowhere is this more evident than the U.S. labor market. As of July, there were a record-setting 6.94 million job openings in the United States, and construction unemployment reached a low of 3.6 percent in October.”

While the U.S. economy is thriving, Basu cited the potential long-term impact of rising interest rates and materials prices—up 7.9 percent on a year-over-year basis in October—on the U.S. construction market. In addition, the workforce shortage will continue to influence the market in the coming year.

That said, Basu stressed that a recession is unlikely in 2019, even with recent financial market volatility. Indicators such as the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, which often signals an economic downturn, have continued to tick higher, implying current momentum will continue for at least two to three more quarters.

While optimistic for next year, Basu warned that “Contractors should be aware that recessions often follow within two years of peak confidence. The average contractor is likely to be quite busy in 2019, but beyond that, the outlook is quite murky.”

https://www.abc.org/News-Media/Newsline/entryid/15940/abc-predicts-construction-sector-will-remain-strong-in-2019

PCA Forecasts Less Growth in 2019 and 2020

The Portland Cement Association (PCA) Market Intelligence Group forecast for cement consumption over the next two years, shows less growth compared with 2018. This year’s rate of change is 2.9 percent. Growth ebbs to 2.6 percent in 2019 and to 1.6 percent in 2020.

“We are expecting relatively modest but sustained interest rate increases after 10 years of low and stable rates,” said PCA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Ed Sullivan. “The Federal Reserve’s actions will gradually slow the construction sector’s growth due to, among other things, the higher mortgage rates for residential buildings and higher borrowing cost for nonresidential buildings.”

Sullivan added, “While the tax cuts passed at the end of 2017 have helped to boost the overall economy, the rising debt will frame the discussion of future federal public infrastructure spending.”

PCA’s overall projection for the U.S. economy suggests considerable strength that will take time to unravel. The seeds of a gradual softening will arise from rising interest rates, the emergence of fiscal difficulties at the state level at a time of relative prosperity, and the aging of the recovery. PCA forecasts the GDP growth rate to be 3.1 percent this year, 2.7 percent in 2019 and 2.2 percent in 2020. The unemployment rate now below 4 percent, is expected to trend down – intensifying labor shortages and leading to stronger wage gains.

“America’s economy is unquestionably strong and resilient,” said Sullivan. “The real GDP growth is healthy, wage growth is up, and both the unemployment rate and consumer household debt are at near record lows. While interest rates are rising, they have not reached a threshold that would cause a significant adjustment to the positive overall growth projections.” https://www.cement.org/newsroom/2018/11/15/pca-forecasts-less-growth-in-2019-and-2020

Have a happy and prosperous New Year.

AGC Reports: CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT RISES FROM NOVEMBER 2017 TO NOVEMBER 2018 IN 42 STATES AND D.C.; 23 STATES ADD CONSTRUCTION JOBS SINCE OCTOBER

Texas and Wyoming Have Biggest Number and Percent of Annual Job Gains as Missouri, Hawaii Lag; California and Wyoming Have Largest One-Month Gains, While Florida and Rhode Island Trail

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between November 2017 and November 2018, while 23 states added construction jobs between October and November, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released today. Association officials said extremely low unemployment rates in most of the nation have made it hard for contractors in many states to continue adding workers, despite strong demand for projects.

“November was the first month this year in which fewer than half the states experienced monthly increases in construction employment,” stated chief economist Ken Simonson. “At a time when job openings are at record highs, the recent slowdown in hiring in some states may indicate contractors are unable to find qualified workers, rather than a slackening in demand for construction.”

The economist noted that job openings in construction totaled 292,000 at the end of October, a jump of 59,000 or 25 percent from a year earlier and the highest October level in the 18 years that the Labor Department has published the series. The number of unemployed jobseekers with recent construction experience—352,000—was the lowest yet for that month. Together, these figures suggest contractors in many states cannot find experienced workers to fill vacancies, Simonson said.

Texas added the most construction jobs during the past year (47,100 jobs, 6.5 percent). Other states adding a large number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (32,900 jobs, 6.4 percent), California (29,600 jobs, 3.6 percent), Arizona (18,500 jobs, 12.3 percent) and Georgia (18,200 jobs, 9.7 percent). Wyoming added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past year (15.2 percent, 2,900 jobs), followed by Arizona, Nevada (11.7 percent, 9,900 jobs), North Dakota (11.4 percent, 2,900 jobs), Connecticut (11.0 percent, 6,400 jobs) and Oregon (10.7 percent, 10,500 jobs). Construction employment reached a record high in four states: Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Texas.

Seven states shed construction jobs between November 2017 and 2018, while construction employment was unchanged in Rhode Island. The largest decline occurred in Missouri (-3,300 jobs, -2.7 percent), followed by South Carolina (-3,100 jobs, -3.0 percent) and New Jersey (-2,200 jobs, -1.4 percent). Hawaii had the steepest percentage job loss for the year (-3.8 percent, -1,400 jobs), followed by South Carolina, Missouri, and New Jersey.

Among the 23 states with one-month job gains between October and November, California had the largest pickup (3,300 jobs, 0.4 percent), followed by Texas (2,700 jobs, 0.3 percent), Pennsylvania (1,900 jobs, 0.7 percent) and Arizona (1,900 jobs, 1.1 percent). Wyoming added the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month (4.8 percent, 1,000 jobs), followed by North Dakota (2.5 percent, 700 jobs) and West Virginia (2.3 percent, 800 jobs).

Construction employment decreased from October to November in 22 states and was unchanged in five states and D.C. Florida lost the most construction jobs (-3,800 jobs, -0.7 percent), followed by Missouri (-3,100 jobs, -2.5 percent) and North Carolina (-1,500 jobs, -0.7 percent). Rhode Island lost the highest percentage of construction jobs in November (-3.6 percent, -700 jobs), followed by Missouri and Hawaii (-2.4 percent, -900 jobs).

Association officials said the soaring level of job openings points to the urgency of implementing effective career and technical education programs to enable workers to get jobs in fields such as construction. “Contractors in many parts of the country are ready and willing to offer high-paying jobs with great career advancement opportunities,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Federal, state and local officials should facilitate those opportunities by modernizing and adequately funding appropriate education and training programs.”

View the state employment data by rank, state, and peaks. View the state employment map.

Wells Fargo 2019 Economic Outlook

Webcast replay information and YouTube video

A replay of our 2019 Annual Economic Outlook Webcast and a short YouTube video about our outlook are now available.

As the current economic expansion approaches the longest on record, we consider just how much longer the good times can last. Our base case sees the economy continuing to expand, albeit with some slowing, through 2020. But we also note factors that could either prolong — or derail — this expansion over the next couple of years.

Watch the Replay

A replay of the webcast will be available through January 13, 2019. Additional materials are available at wellsfargo.com/economicoutlook.

https://www.wellsfargo.com/com/insights/economics/annual-economic-outlook

Executive Summary 

Records Are Made to Be Broken 

The economic expansion that began in June 2009 has been in place now for 114 months, making it the second longest U.S. economic upswing on record. Although we expect real GDP growth will slow somewhat from the rate that will be achieved in 2018 (nearly 3%), we forecast that the expansion will remain intact through 2020. 

We forecast that the expansion will remain intact through 2020. 

Real GDP growth in 2018 has been boosted, at least in part, by economic policies. The tax cuts that President Trump signed into law in late 2017 have helped to raise real disposable income, which has supported strong growth in real personal spending. In addition, last year’s budget agreement provided a lift to government spending, which has also made a positive contribution to real GDP growth. Although the Federal Reserve has been hiking rates, monetary policy is still accommodative, at least it was earlier this year. 

However, some of the factors that have contributed to strong economic growth this year are beginning to fade. The income-lifting effects of the tax cuts will dissipate in 2019, which should lead to some deceleration in real personal consumption expenditures. Growth in real government expenditures is also set to slow. Higher interest rates appear to have weighed on the housing market recently, and the Fed is probably not completely done yet with its process of removing policy accommodation. 

That said, the economy has strong momentum behind it at present, which should keep the expansion intact. Business confidence is buoyant, thereby underpinning investment spending and employment growth. Real consumer spending should be supported by continued growth in real disposable income, upbeat confidence and record levels of household wealth. The high personal saving rate gives households the financial ability to maintain solid rates of spending growth. 

Unemployment has receded to its lowest rate in nearly 50 years, which has led to some acceleration in wages. Modest rates of wage inflation are putting some upward pressure on rates of consumer price inflation. Consequently, the Federal Reserve has been gradually removing policy accommodation, and we look for further tightening ahead. We expect that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will lift its target range for the fed funds rate by 25 bps at its next policy meeting on December 19, and we forecast that the FOMC will hike another 50 bps in 2019. 

It Is the Best of Times, It Is the Worst of Times 

Could the good times last even longer than we anticipate? Yes. Recessions tend to occur when excesses get built up during the boom years and then are subsequently reversed when risk tolerances shift due to a policy mistake or an exogenous shock. The most striking feature of the current expansion is the absence of any obvious excesses. As noted above, inflation has crept higher recently but a return to 1970s-like rates of inflation seems to be a remote possibility. Therefore, the Fed probably does not need to jam on the brakes, which can prolong the expansion. 

A stronger rate of potential GDP growth could be another elixir to the longevity of the expansion. Reduced marginal income tax rates could be drawing more people into the labor market, and corporate tax reform could potentially lead to a sustained acceleration in capital spending. Stronger labor force growth and acceleration in capital investment would lift the economy’s potential growth rate. If the economy’s speed limit is actually higher than most analysts currently estimate, then inflation should remain generally quiescent, reducing the risk of a policy mistake by the Fed. 

There are some credible downside risks to our forecast that should be kept in mind. 

But there are also some credible downside risks to our forecast that should be kept in mind. Although inflation has generally remained benign, it could conceivably rise more rapidly in the coming months if wages accelerate further due to tightness in the labor market. In that scenario, the FOMC could end up tightening policy too forcibly. Trade tensions between the United States and China have risen this year. Although the “first order” effects of the trade war do not appear to be large enough to derail the U.S. expansion, “second-order” effects on investment and consumer spending could be more meaningful. Furthermore, there has been broad asset price appreciation in recent years, and a significant selloff in asset markets could weaken confidence and erode household wealth. Authorities are not in the best position to fight a downturn, should one occur. The Fed does not have as much conventional “ammunition” as it usually does before a recession (i.e., the fed funds rate generally remains low). The federal government’s deficit is already on its way to more than $1 trillion, limiting its ability to loosen fiscal policy further to offset economic weakness.

Global Growth Set to Slow Somewhat 

We estimate that global GDP has risen 3.7% in 2018, which would make it the strongest year of global GDP growth since 2011. But, we look for some deceleration in the global economy in 2019. As discussed previously, U.S. GDP growth should slow somewhat throughout the next year. But we also look for slower growth in China, the world’s second-largest individual economy, due, at least in part, to the “trade war” with the United States. We forecast that the Japanese economy will also decelerate a bit in 2019, although the pace of economic activity in the Eurozone and in the United Kingdom should hold up reasonably well. A “disorderly” Brexit and political tension between the Italian government and the European Commission represent possible downside risks to our forecast, but we anticipate that both issues will be resolved. 

The trade-weighted value of the U.S. dollar against other major currencies has risen about 5% on balance since the beginning of the year. The strength of the U.S. economy relative to most other major economies has led the Federal Reserve to hike rates at a faster pace than other major central banks, thereby supporting the greenback. But, we expect that many other major central banks will start to catch up to the Fed next year. This “monetary policy convergence” should lead to dollar depreciation vis-à-vis most other major currencies in 2019. We expect that the greenback’s performance will be generally mixed against emerging market currencies next year. 

For the full Wells Fargo 2019 Economic Outlook visit:

https://apps.email.wellsfargosecurities.com/e/er?s=2044561710&lid=8679&elqTrackId=432c5b6c43634f12b186be173ab75268&elq=27ef934648d44a3282caff7d6bcc6c70&elqaid=4415&elqat=1