This press release comes from the Associated General Contractors website

Press Release Pearl_Station_Muscatine_HyBrand_3


Date: June 3, 2013

Officials Call for Reinvigorating Construction Training in Schools, Rejecting Arbitrary Caps on Construction Workers in Immigration Legislation as Spending Trends Contribute to Localized Worker Shortages

Total construction spending registered a small gain in April but showed very mixed patterns among major segments, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that a surge in certain project types and regions could leave the industry short of workers even while overall unemployment remains high.

“The report underscores patterns that have prevailed for several months: surging home and apartment construction, volatile private nonresidential activity and shrinking public investment,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.”This uneven result is leading to selected materials cost increases and localized reports of worker shortages despite continuing hard times for many contractors and workers.”

Construction put in place totaled $861 billion in April, rising 0.4 percent since March and up 4.3 percent since April 2012. Private residential construction spending inched down 0.1 percent in April but jumped 19 percent from a year earlier. Private nonresidential spending climbed 2.2 percent for the month and 0.6 percent year-over-year. Public construction spending dropped 1.2 percent for the month and 5.1 percent over 12 months.

“New apartment and home construction were standouts again and should remain very strong for the rest of 2013,” Simonson said. “Growth has been more inconsistent among private nonresidential categories, reflecting reluctance of businesses to commit to investing in structures amid ongoing economic uncertainty. Meanwhile, there appears little prospect that public agencies will start investing in infrastructure any time soon.”

Over the past 12 months, the biggest jump in construction spending has occurred in new multifamily construction, which soared 3.4 percent for the month and 49 percent year-over-year. New single-family construction rose 1.4 percent and 39 percent, respectively. But overall residential gains were held down by a decline in improvements to existing structures of 3.3 percent for the month and 7.0 percent from April 2012.

The largest private nonresidential category, power construction—which includes oil and gas field and pipeline projects as well as power plants, renewable power and transmission lines—leaped 10.8 percent in April following a steep downward revision in the March estimate. Despite the one-month surge, power construction spending was down 2.8 percent since April 2012. The second-largest private segment, manufacturing construction, slumped 2.6 percent for the month but added 2.2 percent over 12 months.

Highway and street construction, the largest public category, increased 0.5 percent in April but slipped 3.4 percent from a year earlier, Simonson noted. The next largest public niche, educational construction, tumbled 4.4 percent and 13 percent, respectively, he added.

Association officials said the latest construction spending figures highlight the need to reinvigorate skills-based training programs in public schools and reject arbitrary caps on construction workers in proposed immigration legislation. “We need to make sure we have prepared workers in place to handle growing demand for construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

Construction Jobless Rate Drops to Nearly 5-Year Low


This is an interesting article I came across that you may enjoy. Construction Jobs

Construction’s unemployment rate fell in May to 10.8%, its lowest level since October 2008 and an improvement over April’s 13.2%, as the industry added 7,000 jobs last month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly employment snapshot, released on June 7, also states that construction’s May jobless rate was down from the May 2012 figure of 14.2%.

The BLS unemployment rates are not adjusted for seasonal differences.

BLS said construction’s job gains last month came in nearly all industry segments, paced by the residential special trade contractors sector, which picked up 4,600 jobs.

The heavy-civil engineering construction sector also posted positive results, adding 3,100 jobs. Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said, “Healthy job performance in this segment is often considered a leading indicator for a number of other construction segments.”

The exception to the upward trends was nonresidential building, which lost 2,600 positions in May.  Basu said the overall U.S. growth in jobs “has apparently been inadequate to foment robust nonresidential construction recovery.”

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said, “Although the monthly job gain in May was modest, both residential and nonresidential construction have been adding workers at roughly double the rate of the overall economy in the past year.”

Simonson said the rise in construction jobs over the past year plus the departures of some unemployed former construction workers from the industry “may lead abruptly to worker shortages in parts of the industry, such as welders and pipefitters.”

Architectural and engineering services, which BLS lists separately from its construction category, gained 4,900 jobs in May.

Over all, BLS reported, the U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate increased to 7.6% from April’s 7.5%.

This article was originally posted on 6-7-13 By Tom Ichniowski

Seeding a New Kind of Concrete


This is an interesting development I came across, kinda fitting since we are in the heart of the corn belt.

Enjoy an interesting article!

Reinforced with husks?

Concrete with Corn?

Corn Husks & Concrete?

Corn Husks & Concrete?

Sunflower seed husks, a huge waste product of the vegetable oil and food industry, could be used as an environmentally friendly filler, or aggregate, for concrete according to Turkish researchers writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management. The team demonstrated that the use of husks reduces the density of concrete as well as boosting the material’s resistance to cracking after exposure to icy then thawing conditions.

Engineers Can Burak Sisman and Erhan Gezer of Namik Kemal University in Turkey, explain how the accumulation of unmanaged wastes from the food industry, particularly in developing countries is becoming increasingly problematic. As such, researchers are hoping to find new applications for such waste in the creation of environmentally friendly materials and composites in the road-building and construction industries for instance. This is particularly pertinent given the rising cost and chronic shortages of conventional materials. Engineers are thus being challenged to convert industrial wastes to replacements for certain materials.

Concrete is perhaps one of the most energy and resource intensive materials and researchers have investigated and applied waste rubber, glass powder and paper waste sludge as alternative fillers and bulking agents. The addition of such materials can affect significantly the properties of concrete altering its strength, density and water resistance detrimentally in some instances.

The team has turned to the sunflower seed and more specifically its inedible husk as a possible alternative material for concrete. Turkey is the ninth largest sunflower producer in the world, generating almost a million tonnes of product from 584000 hectares, the bulk of which is used in the manufacture of sunflower oil in the Thrace region. The by-product is approximately 300000 tonnes of fibrous seed husk. The team has therefore experimented with different formulations of seed husk in a concrete mix.

They produced concrete samples with the lowest density could be classified as “lightweight.” Some samples had low compressibility suitable for construction use although higher husk content meant the resulting concrete could be used only for insulation applications. The team suggests that the sunflower seed concrete would be most suitable for the construction of agricultural buildings that are usually only one floor and do not to be as sufficiently load bearing as domestic or office buildings.

Inderscience (2013, April 25). Seeding a new kind of concrete. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from

US Construction Up 1.2 Percent in February


In an article from the AP by Martin Crutsinger there is good news for construction in the U.S.

Getting better

Getting better

WASHINGTON — Spending on U.S. construction projects rebounded in February, helped by a surge in home construction, which rose to the highest level in more than four years.

Construction spending rose 1.2 percent overall in February compared to January, when construction had dropped 2.1 percent, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

Spending rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $885.1 billion, which was 7.9 percent higher than a year ago.

The advance was led by a 2.2 percent rise in private residential construction, which climbed to an annual rate of $303.4 billion, the best showing since November 2008. Private nonresidential construction was up 0.4 percent while public construction rose 0.9 percent.

Construction spending is expected to keep growing this year, fueled by more homebuilding and broader improvement in the economy.

For all of 2012, construction spending increased 9.8 percent, marking the first annual gain after five straight years of declines. Construction spending is still well below healthy levels. But it is slowly coming back, led by a recovery in housing that looks to be strengthening this year.

Steady hiring and nearly record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more Americans to buy homes. More people are also moving out on their own after living with friends and relatives in the recession. That’s driving a big gain in apartment construction and also pushing up rents.

In February, spending on single-family construction rose 4.3 percent, helping to offset a 2.2 percent drop in apartment construction. Residential activity is now 20.1 percent above where it was a year ago.

The small 0.4 percent rise in nonresidential construction in February followed a 5.9 percent plunge in January. The February gains were led by a 4.8 percent rise in office construction and a 3.1 percent increase in health care, a category that covers hospitals and doctors’ clinics.

The 0.9 percent rise in public construction reflected a 1.1 percent increase in state and local government building. Federal construction dropped by 1.1 percent following a 2.1 percent decline in January.

In February, U.S. homebuilders requested permits for future construction at the fastest pace in 4 1/2 years. And they started to build single-family homes at the fastest pace in that time period.

With sales of new homes and previously owned homes trending higher, the increased demand has helped push home prices up. U.S. home prices rose 8.1 percent for the 12 months that ended in January, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index. Prices rose in all 20 cities surveyed and eight markets posted double-digit gains.

Rising home prices are expected to encourage more people to put their homes on the market. The market has been held back by a low supply of available homes for sales.

Read more: 


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Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors can be reached at 563-262-8710.

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