Entries in Construction (8)


Shortage of Construction Workers as Housing Market Improves

 iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Construction jobs are coming back, but where are the workers?  

The revival of the housing market and commercial real estate has many contractors scrambling to find qualified workers.

“The crunch is affecting a handful of states, including Texas, Arizona, Iowa and Florida,” says USA Today.  “It’s expected to worsen across the USA over the next few years.”

Contractors reportedly are raiding each other's job sites in some states to look for workers who either left the field, retired or moved somewhere else.  It’s a problem that could spread as the economy improves.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Builders Take Up US-Made Homes Pledge

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American-made home that Anders Lewendal set out to construct in October 2011 is complete -- and has started quite a movement across the U.S.

"We're amazed.  We've had calls and emails and hundreds and hundreds of builders and homeowners, company owners, politicians," he told ABC News.  "We're glad the movement's had some momentum behind it."

In Bozeman, Mont., Lewendal, an economist-turned-builder, constructed a house made entirely from U.S.-made products -- from the nails, screws and bolts to the staples and the bathtub.  The house was built with more than 120 products from more than 33 states.

"The house is done and every part of it is made in America," he said.  "I can say there's only two things we could not find that's produced in this country.  It's a microwave oven and a door chime.  Neither of which are important for my client anyways in this house."

Lewendal maintained last year that if every builder bought just 5 percent more U.S.-made materials, 220,000 jobs would be created.

From Gorilla Tape of Cincinnati to a Sherwin-Williams plant in Georgia and a Moen plant in Pennsylvania, companies around the country agreed that if builders bought more American products, they would put people back to work.

So far, builders have been following Lewendal's lead, even signing petitions and contracts pledging to build with 5 percent more American products, including Maze nails, which are produced in Peru, Ill.

But others went a step further in the Made in America cause.  Currently, all-American homes are being built or have been completed in Montana, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Florida and Virginia.

In Bullard, Texas, builders Gary Bayless and Joe Runnels from Bayless Custom Homes constructed their first all-American house.

Gerald Rowlett in Lake Oswego, Ore., said the day he and his team finished their American-made home, they celebrated by singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."

And in Spokane, Wash., home builder Corey Condron broke ground in March on a house using only American-made products.  He said the nails were from the East Coast and the flooring was from Idaho -- even the bath fixtures were made in the U.S.

Lewendal said that he set about building the Bozeman, Mont., home to prove that making all-American homes is "easy to do."

"The idea is to get one all-American home built in every state in the union," he said. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Home Construction Up Slightly in January

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In another encouraging sign for the economy, construction of new homes increased modestly last month, up 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 699,000, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

“This is a good report,” David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, told ABC News. “We're approaching 700,000 housing units per year.  That's something we haven't seen for several years.”

Crowe said January’s numbers are in line with December’s revised figures. “There was a broad-based improvement if you take both of the months together. And I think that's basically due to continued improvement in consumer attitude towards the future economy and in employment,” Crowe said.

And the jobs market continues to show signs of improvement. A separate government report issued Thursday showed claims for unemployment benefits are at their lowest level in almost four years.

“This is indicative of what we're going to see in 2012,” Crowe said, “which is a slow recovery.  This isn't going to be a fast or quick or igniting housing recovery.”

Warmer weather during the month of January may have contributed to the slight rise in new home construction, Bloomberg News reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lowe’s Closes 20 Stores, Cuts 1,950 Jobs

Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg via Getty Images (MOORESVILLE, N.C.) -- Home improvement giant Lowe’s said Monday it will close 20 underperforming stores in 15 states and cut 1,950 jobs.

Half of the locations closed Sunday, while the others will be shut in a month, the Mooresville, N.C. company said in a statement. Lowe’s, the No. 2 building supply chain after Home Depot, said the move will allow it to focus on more-profitable locations.

Before the closures Lowe’s operated 1,725 stores.

Lowe’s will only open 10 to 15 stores in North America annually beginning in 2012, rather than the 30 it had expected to open.

The stores affected are in: Los Banos, CA, Biddeford, ME, Old Bridge, NJ, Westminster, CA, Ellsworth, ME, Batavia, NY, Denver, CO, Ionia, MI, N. Kingstown, RI, Aurora, IL, Rogers, MN, Emporia, VA, Oswego, IL, Claremont, NH, S. Tacoma, WA, Chalmette, LA, Hooksett, NH, Brown Deer, WI, Haverhill, MA, and Manchester, NH.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Would Obama's Infrastructure Plan Create Jobs Now?

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama isn’t likely to use the term “shovel-ready” in his jobs speech Thursday night, but he is expected to call for billions in new government spending for infrastructure projects he believes will lead to immediate hiring.

“We’ve got roads and bridges across this country that need rebuilding.  We’ve got private companies with the equipment and the manpower to do the building,” Obama told a crowd Monday in Detroit.  “We’ve got more than one million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now.”

Sources knowledgeable about the administration proposals say Obama might seek to fast-track up to $50 billion in infrastructure spending in the next year as part of a broader transportation package -- an idea he first proposed a year ago but failed to gain traction.

The White House has not provided details of the plan or estimates for job creation, but economists on both ends of the political spectrum say infrastructure improvements might not make much of a splash in the short-term.

“It’s not good stimulus,” said Alice Rivlin, a Democratic member of the president’s Debt Commission and former head of the Office of Management and Budget.

“It doesn’t come online fast enough.  If you’re really talking about things that will create jobs quickly, you need to rely on either direct government hiring in the manner of things done in the Great Depression, or demand side things that will get more money spent by wage earners,” she said.

Alan Viard, an economist with the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said infrastructure spending can be “reasonably powerful” but cautioned additional funding might not be the most effective way to spend the taxpayers’ dime.

“I think we need to be cautious how much we expect any of these packages to do, regardless of who’s proposing them,” Viard said.  ”I think the jury is out on the question of how much demand stimulus can help when you have one of these long recessions following a financial crisis.”

John Horsely, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, says a concentrated infusion of $50 billion now could lead to the employment of hundreds of thousands.

“The president wants to jump-start the economy and create jobs, and so if he could manage to get the authority to spend $50 billion all in one year, you would probably have a much higher number of jobs created, if it all happened in one year,” Horsely said.

Republicans have signaled they are not willing to support additional spending that might add to the deficit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Home Construction Rose by 14.6% in June

Karl Weatherly/Digital Vision/ Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Builders broke ground on 14.6 percent more homes in June than they did in May, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce's latest report on housing starts released Tuesday.

The report finds that construction began last month on a seasonally-adjusted rate of 629,000 new homes across the country, with 453,000 of them being single-family homes.

While the housing starts represent just half the number needed to signal a healthy housing market, it shows the sector is on the rebound.

"It's very good news. It's in both single-family and multi-family. It's also broad-based.  It's across all of the regions. So it's good to see this kind of increase," says Robert Denk, a senior economist at the National Association of Home Builders.

"We expect the trend to be upward...That doesn't preclude that we'll see some volatility, that we might see these numbers go up and down.  But today's increase is definitely a good sign," he adds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Construction Spending Hits Decade Low

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Construction spending in December fell to its lowest level in a decade, according to figures released by the Department of Commerce Tuesday.

The spending fell 2.5 percent in December while annual construction spending in the U.S. fell to $814 billion, the lowest level since July 2000.

Home building is expected to make a slow rebound amid foreclosures and unemployment. Spending on private construction fell 2.2 percent from November to December as homebuilding outlays dropped 4.1 percent.

Weather may also have played a factor in the December decline in home construction as December was one of the snowiest months on record.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reports Show Manufacturing, Construction Growth

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Reports on U.S. manufacturing and construction released Monday appear to show more economic growth is on the way.

The Commerce Department says construction spending rose for the third straight month. The November number went up .4 percent following stronger gains in the previous two months.

The people who do the buying for American businesses say manufacturing continued to grow last month. The Institute for Supply Management survey rose slightly compared with November. New orders rose sharply.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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