Tag Archive for 'infrastructure'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* Last week the US Geological Survey hosted a public briefing on its work to develop a database on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with extraction of fossil fuels from federal lands. In January 2015, Interior Secretary Jewell asked the USGS to establish and maintain such a public database. The meeting provided a briefing on the basic methods, data sources, and likely format and content of project output. Results and data were not presented; watch for that information next year. USGS data covered carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions.

* Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality is conducting a study on how a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions might work in Oregon. DEQ has to report to the State legislature when it reconvenes in February. DEQ has released a “partial draft study” for public review. The work so far is focused on a “cap-and-trade” program that would be compatible with the Western Climate Initiative’s multi-jurisdiction carbon market. Comments on the draft are due December 22, the same day as a public meeting.

* Cushy gubmint jobs: “Religious Compensatory Time.” Who knew, right? Federal employees can adjust work schedules to earn time off for religious purposes via compensatory time, earned in advance or repaid after the religious observance. EPA’s Inspector General reports that one extremely devout EPA employee received a retirement payout of $32,469 for accumulated religious compensatory time. Thirteen co-workers received a total of $41,045. Without policy changes, future payments could total up to $81,927. Pretty soon that turns into real money, huh? The IG does write, however, that that first employee did “earn” his/her time; now I feel better. 😀

Tom Ewing

 

ABC Reports: Construction Job Growth Accelerates Amid Optimistic Post-Election Outlook in November

1291931467352794367The U.S. construction industry added 19,000 net new jobs in November and has now added jobs for three consecutive months, according to analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

Industry employment is up by 2.4 percent on a year-over-year basis, considerably faster than the overall economy’s 1.6 percent job growth rate. Construction industry employment growth would likely be much sharper if more suitably skilled or trainable workers were available to fill available job openings. The skilled labor shortage appears to be impacting nonresidential activity more than residential. The nonresidential sector added 1,100 net new jobs in November, while the residential sector added 19,600 positions. Heavy and civil engineering lost 2,100 jobs for the month.

“The demand for construction talent was strong before the election, and the outcome has improved the near-term outlook for private and public construction activity,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The implication is that demand for construction workers is positioned to remain high, which will translate into gradual reduction in industry unemployment and significant wage pressures.

“Some of these wage pressures are already evident,” said Basu. “Construction firms in the nation’s hottest markets, including New York, Seattle and Miami, report that in certain occupational categories, compensation is rising at a 10 percent per annum pace or more. This appears to be particularly true for construction superintendents and managers.

“Next year is shaping up to be a good one for both residential and nonresidential construction segments,” said Basu. “Of the two branches of the industry, nonresidential likely offers the larger upside. An infrastructure-led stimulus package would largely be oriented around nonresidential activities. Moreover, in certain markets, there is evidence that the apartment market is approaching saturation. Expected increases in interest rates next year would also tend to hit certain residential activities (i.e., single-family construction) more forcefully.”

The construction unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.7 percent in November. One might have expected that this rate would have declined given the generally elevated levels of demand for construction talent. However, there are certain parts of the country that are softer economically, including many commodity-rich communities that have been impacted by lower oil and natural gas prices. Moreover, it is difficult to assess the skill level of jobseekers.

The unemployment rate for all U.S. industries fell to 4.6 percent, the lowest rate since mid-2007 and 0.3 percentage points below October’s rate. The labor force lost 226,000 persons for the month, but is still more than 2 million people larger than at the same time one year ago.

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Wells Fargo Reports: Construction Spending Bounces Back in October

Wells_Fargo_Securities_logoFollowing a surge in the third quarter in private nonresidential construction, the pace of spending slowed to start Q4. Spending on residential construction showed some signs of strengthening in the fourth quarter.

Public Construction Picks Up

  • Total construction spending rose 0.5 percent to begin the fourth quarter with residential investment rising 1.8 percent, while nonresidential construction declined 0.3 percent for the month.
  • Private construction spending contracted for the second straight month, while public construction activity rose 2.8 percent with additional upward revisions to prior months’ data.

Better Residential Investment in Q4

  • Private residential construction rose 1.6 percent with single and multifamily both posting 2.8 percent increases, while home improvement fell 0.6 percent for the month. The bounce back in private residential supports our view for a rebound in residential investment in Q4.
  • A rise in both federal and state & local construction are supportive of greater government investment in Q4.

Construction Spending Softens Further in September

 

 

 

 

 

Construction Spending Softens Further in September

Construction Spending Softens Further in September

Poll: Strong Bipartisan Support for Water Infrastructure Bill

imageVoters want lame-duck Congress to pass Water Resources Development Act and pipeline rehabilitation aid in year-end push

In the final weeks of the lame-duck session, a national poll released Friday by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) found that voters strongly support federal funding for water pipelines and waterways as well as for resources that prevent drinking water contamination crises, like those that occurred in Flint, MI.

The findings were part of a national poll commissioned by AEM to gauge voter perceptions and attitudes about United States water infrastructure broadly and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 specifically, a major water infrastructure resource authorization bill currently awaiting final passage in the lame-duck Congress.

“Improving and modernizing U.S. infrastructure overall, and in this case, water infrastructure, continues to be a bipartisan priority among voters,” said Dennis Slater, AEM President. “Congressional leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House are to be commended for taking action on their respective versions of a 2016 WRDA bill, but should reach consensus on a final version before the 114th Congress adjourns.”

The national poll identified a number of key findings, including:

A majority (54 percent) of registered voters say that U.S. water infrastructure is in fair or poor condition.
Nearly seven out of 10 (67 percent) of the surveyed population believe that the federal government should spend somewhat more or much more on water pipelines and waterways.
More than seven out of every 10 (74 percent) registered voters either support or strongly support Congress passing WRDA.
A clear majority (73 percent) of registered voters are either somewhat or much more likely to support WRDA when they learn that it might prevent drinking water crises such as the one in Flint, MI.
The national poll was conducted as part of AEM’s ongoing efforts to develop a long-term national vision for U.S. infrastructure through its Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative. An analysis of the poll results is available here.

About the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) – www.aem.org

AEM is the North American-based international trade group providing innovative business development resources to advance the off-road equipment manufacturing industry in the global marketplace. AEM membership comprises more than 940 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors worldwide. AEM is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with offices in the world capitals of Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; and Beijing, China.

ABC Reports:Nonresidential Construction Spending Gains Momentum

1291931467352794367Nonresidential construction spending totaled $699.7 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis in October, a 0.3 percent decrease from September’s significantly upwardly revised total, but an increase of 2.6 percent year-over-year according to analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

September’s nonresidential spending estimate was revised from $690.5 billion to $701.7 billion, a 1.6 percent increase. August’s estimate received a similar revision, increasing from $696.6 billion to $703.6 billion. Nonresidential spending is now 2.6 percent higher than at the same time one year ago.

“While the construction spending data remain challenging to interpret, the general story is still positive overall,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Nonresidential construction spending is up by nearly 3 percent on a year-over-year basis. Certain segments are red hot, including the office and lodging segments, both of which have experienced more than 20 percent spending growth over the past 12 months. Investors, both domestic and global, continue to search for deals during a period of low global interest rates. Commercial real estate has emerged as one of the favorite destinations for investor capital, helping to raise property values and prompt significant numbers of construction starts.

“While certain private segments flourish, publically financed categories continue to languish,” said Basu. “This is particularly true in the public safety, conservation and development and sewage and waste disposal categories, all of which have seen year-over-year spending declines of 6.5 percent or more. The outcome of the election has lifted expectations for spending in many publically financed categories. Both major presidential candidates had discussed investing in infrastructure during their campaign. However, there was a conventional wisdom suggesting that divided government would be the most likely outcome, which would likely have translated into more stalemates and less infrastructure spending. With one party now controlling the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the White House, a meaningful infrastructure package may be more likely. While that will not affect spending numbers in the immediate near term, the longer-term outlook for infrastructure spending has brightened considerably since our previous report.

“In addition to the promise of augmented infrastructure spending, there are indications of corporate and personal tax cuts to come, increased defense spending, deregulation of the financial system, and lighter regulation of energy producers,” said Basu. “All of these policy shifts are consistent with greater construction spending going forward, at least for the foreseeable future. In other words, the 2017-18 nonresidential spending outlook has improved over the last several weeks. It remains to be seen how much the president-elect can accomplish over the next few months, and what affect that will have on the nonresidential construction segment of the U.S. economy.”

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