Budget hawks on Capitol Hill are scrutinizing wasteful mechanisms in surface transportation construction against the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s infrastructure investment plant. One of the easiest targets for stretching dollars from an expanded highway and bridge funding pool was noted here last month: A lifting of Barack Obama’s executive order fostering the use of wage-inflating project labor agreements on higher ticket federal construction contracts.
A late-January Associated Builders & Contractors study indicated how construction unemployment rates through the end of last year sustained a downward trend dating to 2010. “The ongoing year-over-year decline in the national unemployment rate is an indication of the health of the construction job market and its recovery from the deep recession,” explained economist Bernard Markstein, Ph.D., who analyzed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics December 2016 data for ABC. “However, the shortage of skilled construction workers is hindering the ability of the sector to grow, with more than 80 percent of Associated Builders and Contractors members reporting a shortage of appropriately skilled labor.”
Private sector employers, employees and job seekers will soon have a friend in the White House. Before looking at the new administration’s promise, a brief look back to November 2001, when this column noted Donald Trump’s appreciation for quality construction. The then-celebrity developer had assessed post-Twin Towers building practice in a prime time exchange with ABC 20/20 host Barbara Walters, citing “more concrete,” as a means of constructing “a great building a lot tougher than the World Trade Center turned out to be.”
Seven 2015–2016 deals mark the latest turning point in North American cement production and a key downstream segment, pipe and precast. Incumbent operators streamlined or broadened their market footprints while a newcomer from Mexico saw opportunity north of the Rio Grande. Two cement players’ deals realigned market leadership in concrete pipe and precast.
In the wake of Hours of Service rule exemptions, ready mixed producers are following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) work-in-progress guidance on testing of drivers for risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The condition attends obesity and sees tissues around the upper respiratory tract relax and physically block the airway. The FMCSA Medical Review Board links the condition to daytime sleepiness, making truck drivers more accident prone.