Construction employment rises

AGCConstruction employment continues to be a key indicator of where the market is headed. Construction employment expanded in 20 states between October and November, while the list of states with year-over-year construction job gains grew to 13 states plus the District of Columbia, the Associated General Contractors of America reported in an analysis of state employment data released today by the Labor Department. The new figures continue a year-long pattern of mixed results in construction employment as overall demand remains weak, association officials noted.

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I hear a Cat

Cat-truckIt's getting close to ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 time! Caterpillar will present one of the largest displays at next year's show with three different exhibit areas totaling 60,000 sq.  ft. of floor space. Nearly 40 machines, a wide variety of work tools, technology solutions, engines and components will offer something for everyone—contractors of all types, aggregates miners, construction materials suppliers and specialty trades, according to the company. More than a dozen new Cat machines will make their North American debut at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011. The new Cat vocational truck, the CT660, will be shown publicly for the first time. To be sold and serviced by North American Cat dealers, the CT660 will be shown in a variety of configurations and in both the North Hall and Gold Lot exhibits.

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Manufacturers looking ahead

aem2gifManufacturers have a more bullish outlook on the economy than some other sectors of the industry. This is reinforced by the just-released construction equipment "business outlook" survey of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). The survey indicates:

  • Construction machinery manufacturers predict overall business in the United States to close out 2010 with 6.4-percent growth, then gain 12.7 percent in 2011 and 14.8 percent in 2012, followed by 2013 growth of 13.0 percent.
  • Canadian business overall is expected to be 8.2 percent higher in 2010 than the previous year, and record gains of 12.0 percent in 2011, 14.8 percent in 2012 and 12.7 percent in 2013.
  • Industry business to the rest of the world is anticipated to be strongest in 2010  - up by 14.7 percent – and then grow 11.8 percent in 2011, 12.5 percent in 2012 and 11.2 percent in 2013.

"While this rebound is welcome, you have to remember our industry was down 30 to 50 percent in the recession, so there is a long way to go. Although business is improving, it will take years to recover the sales losses of 2008-2009," said AEM President Dennis Slater. "This hopeful outlook will be difficult to achieve without action now on transportation infrastructure legislation and export-promotion policies. Infrastructure investment and export agreements are proven ways to create and maintain jobs for U.S. workers, for a sustainable recovery and meaningful uptick in equipment demand," Slater said.

MSHA Fatality #17

The president of a dimensional stone operation died in a site accident that also serves as a safety lesson for workers at aggregates operations. According to MSHA, Ralph Wheeler, president of Wheeler Rock Quarry, Lansing, Kan., was struck by a haul truck. Wheeler had dismounted the dozer he was operating and walked in front of the haul truck. The accident occurred because the victim approached the haul truck and did not notify the operator of his presence. Wheeler was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death was blunt force trauma. Wheeler had 20 years, 9 weeks and 4 days of experience at this operation, but had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 46. MSHA reports that this was the 17th metal/nonmetal fatality of the year.

The latest ups and downs

artbaThe American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has some good and bad news. First the bad. Continuing budget challenges for state and local governments, uncertainty surrounding a new long-term federal surface transportation bill, and winding down of infrastructure investment under the stimulus law, will drive a 4.4 percent contraction in the U.S. highway and bridge construction market in 2011, according to ARTBA Vice President of Policy & Senior Economist Alison Premo Black. The real value of highway, street and bridge construction is expected to fall to $78.5 billion, compared to 2010's estimated $82.2 billion level, according to Black. One positive note: the amount of work completed on bridges is expected to increase to $25.4 billion in 2010, Black says. The value of real work in the bridge market has nearly doubled in the last decade as state and local governments have increasingly addressed long-deteriorating conditions.