A year of tempered market expectations, bigger multinationals, taller wood buildings

Three developments tracked since January stand out at year’s end: 1) overall concrete shipments did not pace projected level; 2) among global operators, the annual revenue bar for cement, aggregate and ready mixed concrete shipments is moving from the $10 billion–$15 billion to $15 billion–$20 billion range, with the top players deriving about 20–25 percent of sales in North America; and, 3) U.S. and Canadian wood interests’ multi-story building market pursuits are reverberating among ready mixed and manufactured-concrete producers.

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ABC, AIA & NAHB economists underscore residential, nonresidential market health

Source: Associated Builders & Contractors, Washington, D.C.

“The nonresidential construction sector gained momentum over the last year and should continue to expand into 2016,” affirms ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The construction industry has benefited from increased stability stemming from low materials prices and greater certainty regarding federal budgeting and monetary policy, although a lack of appropriately skilled labor will remain a challenge for contractors. ABC predicts the nonresidential construction segment will experience 7 percent nominal growth in 2016.”

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Leading index shows builders matching confidence level of 2005

Source: National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.

Builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose three points in October to a level of 64 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI)—a level last seen at the end of the housing boom a decade ago.

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Expanded joint employer definition clouds contractor, subcontractor ties

Sources: Associated Builders & Contractors, National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.; National Labor Relations Board; CP staff

Against precedent dating to 1984, a 3-2 NLRB majority redefines “joint employer” in a decision favoring an International Brotherhood of Teamsters local aiming to extend representation from a recycling station bargaining unit—equipment operators and companion staff employed by the facility’s owner—to a subcontractor whose employees perform waste sorting and related services.

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Builders, Contractors groups challenge proposed overtime requirements

Sources: Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

Associated Builders & Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America and the National Association of Home Builders are representing construction interests in a coalition opposing the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed rulemaking to alter Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime pay requirements with sharp salary threshold spikes.

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Builders boost housing starts to pre-recession watermark

Source: National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.

Led by a strong jump in single-family production, nationwide housing starts inched up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.206 million units in July, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department data. Single-family starts rose 12.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 units after an upwardly revised June reading, while multifamily work fell 17 percent to 424,000 units.

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Construction Coalition study: OSHA silica rule cost estimate off by $4.5 billion

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed standards covering crystalline silica will cost contractors and their suppliers $5 billion per year—nearly $4.5 billion above estimates agency officials indicated in September 2013, when they outlined a new permissible exposure limit (PEL) for general workplaces and construction sites.

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NAHB Improving Markets Index expands to 30 metropolitan areas

Source: Rock Products staff

The number of improving housing markets continued to expand for a third consecutive month in November, rising from 23 to 30 on the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index. The list dropped two metropolitan areas and added nine new ones—Fort Collins, Colo.; Hinesville, Ga.; Davenport, Iowa; Monroe, La.; Lima, Ohio; Williamsport, Pa.; Corpus Christi and Tyler, Texas; and, Cheyenne, Wyo.

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Appellate Court rejects NAACP, NAHB challenges to town’s pro-masonry ordinance

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Houston) panel has found a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People- and National Association of Home Builders-anchored coalition lacked legal standing in its claims that revised, Kyle, Texas, zoning standards violate the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). In a November 11 opinion, the Appellate Court essentially affirms a March 2009 U.S. States District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin Division) decision rejecting plaintiffs’ challenge based on their failure to present evidence the  standards discriminated against African-Americans or Hispanics.

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