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As further evidence that the nation’s construction industry continues to struggle, nonresidential construction spending fell 3.3 percent in January, with outlays decreasing to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $572.1 billion, according to the March 1 report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Year over year, total nonresidential construction spending is up only 0.8 percent (unadjusted for inflation).
Both private and public nonresidential construction spending were down for the month. Private nonresidential construction spending fell 5.1 percent on a monthly basis, but is 4 percent higher compared to one year ago. Public nonresidential construction spending declined 1 percent in January and is 2.7 percent lower than January 2012.
“January’s construction spending decline was particularly alarming because the loss in momentum spread deep into privately financed categories,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “In previous months, decreased spending in a number of public spending-oriented sectors like sewage and waste disposal and public safety was roughly counter-balanced by increased spending in intensely private segments, such as power and manufacturing.
“That changed in January, with privately financed segments like power and manufacturing reversing course and experiencing substantial monthly declines in construction spending” said Basu. “The upshot is that nonresidential construction spending is virtually unchanged over the past year.
I had the opportunity to hear State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Tony Bennett, speak last week at the State Board meeting of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in Indianapolis. It was interesting to hear the changes that he and Governor Daniels have made in the Indiana school systems over the past few years. While it had a campaign speech theme, I was pleased and impressed with a lot of the questions and answers that followed. Through my association with the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation, MCEDC, I constantly hear that educating the workforce is the number one request from the business community. Dr. Bennett said that graduation rates are up 4%, and 10% more students are participating in Advanced Placement in preparation for college from 2009 to 2011.
As it affects our industry, I was more interested in how schools can earn credit for vocational education. This has long been a frustration of mine. I’ve often felt that high schools have divided the students into two tracks, 1) College Prep and 2) High School Graduation. Track 1 kids are prepared for higher learning and are made to understand that high school is just a step along the way. Less than three months after high school graduation they will be back in school and expected to continue their career path education. Track 2 kids are given the goal of getting their high school diploma. I feel that it often hasn’t been explained to them that they will still be expected to “learn” in order to make whatever job they take into a career. Kids that we hire are often shocked and almost offended that we would suggest that they need to participate in Apprenticeship programs and continue their education in order to advance with our company.
For years now, ABC has offered a program to our schools that allows high school students participating in the Building Trades programs to earn their first year of apprenticeship. The program is Bureau of Apprenticeship Training (BAT) approved, meaning that they could continue their training through union or merit shop training after graduation. I think this accomplishes a three things: 1) It fosters the idea that construction workers need to be educated in order to make their job a career. 2) It gives the students a leg-up on the competition when they enter the job market. 3) It elevates a graduate’s pay potential. (They would still need to complete On the Job Training (OJT’s) hours to complete their first year, but the programs are set up with graduated pay increases with each year of apprenticeship successfully completed. At Easterday Construction, we generally require a year of service before we would consider sending someone to Apprenticeship Training, but if someone came out of a high school building trades program with a year of apprenticeship under their belt, I would seriously consider sending them for year two the following Fall.) I have approached the Culver and Plymouth Schools regarding this opportunity in the past and I have been rebuffed. Hopefully they will reconsider this in the future since it would now count favorably in the school’s overall assessment by the State.
All in all, I was impressed with Dr. Bennett and the programs he has put into place. I think Indiana could do worse than giving Dr. Bennett another term to further his programs and give the ones currently implemented a chance to bear fruit.
Washington, D.C. – Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) issued the following statement after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today overturned a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) “ambush” elections rule because it was adopted without the statutorily required quorum of NLRB members.
“This is a great victory for the merit shop construction industry, and employers and employees across the country,” said ABC Vice President of Federal Affairs Geoffrey Burr. “The new procedures, which went into effect April 30, made it more difficult for employees to make a fully informed decision concerning union representation.
“We said all along that the “ambush” elections rule was made in haste without regard or consideration to the proper procedures, and that the rule would have a negative impact on the nation’s small businesses,” Burr said.
The rule was challenged by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
To view this news release on ABC’s website, click here.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national association with 74 chapters representing 22,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms. Visit us at www.abc.org.
I had the opportunity to meet with Francis Ellert recently and present him with a check and endorsement from Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana (ABC). Easterday Construction has been a member of ABC for nearly three decades and I have served on the organization’s State Board of Directors through four terms. Francis has attended several ABC events and the organization has found him to be a like-minded individual that will fit well in representing our Free Enterprise cause. I consider Francis a personal friend and I was pleased to be able to relay our support.
This is Francis’s second run at the Indiana House District 17 position. I supported him in his first run (see here) and will do so again this time. Currently he has a primary challenger, but no Democrats have filed to run for the position in the Fall. Turnout will still be important in the primary. Since the Republican candidate for President has been decided before the Indiana primary, it’s important to make your voice heard in this local issue.
Lest you think voting isn’t important in the primary, there seems to be a real divide in the campaigning. I see very few Harman signs in the Culver area where Francis is well represented. I see mostly Harman signs in the Bremen area where Tim is well known. Culver in particularly shouldn’t be complacent and assume that Francis has it sewn up! We need to get out the vote and support him.
I can’t say anything bad about Tim Harman. From what I know of him, he is a good person, has run a clean campaign and has the best interests of District 17 at heart. But he’s not the known candidate that Francis is. Francis ran a hard campaign against Nancy Dembowski in 2010 and I think he benefited from it. Not only did it help him better define his positions, but it helped him make contacts that will be crucial when he joins the General Assembly next year. Those contacts are what have garnered the support of the Indiana Chamber, the Indiana Manufacturers Association and the Indiana Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.
Please consider helping me support Francis in the primary. In less than a week we’ll be making this choice. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to voting for a candidate that I can truly support rather than choosing the lesser of evils. I don’t think Francis tells election fairy tales.