Construction employment up in 220 US metro areas as spending rises five percent year-on-year
Construction employment expanded in 220 metro areas, declined in 73 and was stagnant in 46 between August 2013 and August 2014, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials added that construction spending climbed to $961 billion from $915.3 billion between August 2013 and August 2014: a five percent increase, according to federal data also released today.
Ken Simonson, the Association's Chief Economist, said: "Even as construction employment continues to rebound in many parts of the country, other areas continue to lose ground, or like Phoenix, backslide. Similarly, while construction spending has been increasing overall in the past year, the gains remain uneven. The industry appears likely to experience very mixed results by segment and region for the rest of 2014 and into next year."
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (10,900 jobs, six percent), followed by Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (9,900 jobs, eight percent), Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (9,700 jobs, eight percent) and Baton Rouge, La. (8,000 jobs, 18 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Lake Charles, La. (27 percent, 2,900 jobs), Monroe, Mich. (27 percent, 600 jobs), Owensboro, Ky. (25 percent, 700 jobs) and Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Fla. (24 percent, 900 jobs).
The largest job losses from August 2013 to August 2014 were in Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (-5,000 jobs, -five percent), followed by Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md. (-4,000 jobs, -12 percent), Gary, Ind. (-2,800 jobs, -15 percent) and Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. (-2,700 jobs, -six percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. (-17 percent, -300 jobs), followed by Gary, Ind. and Redding, Calif. (-13 percent, -400 jobs).
Even as construction spending increased for the year, it declined 0.8 between July and August, from $968.8 billion to $961 billion. Both private and public construction spending declined for the month, 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent respectively. The month-to-month private sector declines occurred in both residential (0.1 percent down) and non-residential construction (1.4 percent down). Spending on public education facilities dropped 2.9 percent for the month while investments in highway construction also dropped by 0.6 percent for the month.
Association officials said that the construction employment and spending data make it clear that the industry continues its slow and sometimes inconsistent recovery from its years-long downturn. They cautioned that many firms report having a hard time finding enough qualified workers. Indeed, one in four firms report having to turn down projects because of worker shortages.
"We want to make sure firms don't miss out on the recovery because they don't have enough workers," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's Chief Executive Officer. "Ultimately these delays will undermine the recovery by spiking construction costs and delaying project schedules."
China’s Broad Group builds 10-storey apartment in 28 hours
The China-based manufacturing enterprise Broad Group has managed to construct a 10-storey steel apartment building in just over a day. Constructed in the city of Changsha in China, the company used bolt-together modular units known as its “Living Building System”.
A video time-lapse showing the build process. Video: Broad Group.
Broad Group, a manufacturing company based in Changsha, constructs a range of air-conditioning, heating, and prefabricated structural units. It accomplished the challenge in 28 hours and 45 minutes, enlisting help from three cranes and an on-site workforce.
Broad Group’s “Living Building” system
Designed to be easy to transport and install, Broad Group’s “Living Building” system uses components that are able to fit into a standard shipping container, and then be bolted together when they reach the site. Ductwork and wiring are fitted directly by the factory, the company said.
As part of the system, Broad Group’s B-Core steel slabs are used as structural elements which, the company claims are 10-times lighter and 100-times stronger than conventional slabs. The company also says they have the ability to resist earthquakes and typhoons, and that it costs less than a carbon steel building and has low energy consumption.
Broad Group also says that buildings of up to 200 storeys, supertall towers, could be built using the same modules due to the B-Core steel slabs’ strength and lightness.
Other Broad Group projects
Broad Group has completed other significant projects in the past. In 2012, for instance, it attempted to build the tallest tower in the world in Changsha at 838m, which would have made it 10m taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The company claimed it could have made the building, named Sky City, in just eight months. However, due to not receiving approval, it was never built.
In 2015, the company accomplished another “speed-build” challenge, constructing a 57-story tower using the “Living Building system”. It was completed in just 19 days.