June 2010: For The Record


For The Record

The Masonry staff just returned from the CSI/CONSTRUCT show in Philadelphia, where we heard a mixed bag of predictions regarding when the industry may rebound. While many said we might see noticeable improvement toward the end of 2010 and into 2011, others were talking 2012. And, a tiny sliver actually said business is good. Several companies told us they are handling the recession by finding ways to give people exactly what they want and, therefore, are about to launch major product campaigns. Instead of having fire sales on the products they already have, companies are giving innovation a chance to create new opportunities.

Job loss and creation seems to be geographic in nature, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, which says monthly construction employment was boosted in 29 states between March and April. (Despite the recent gains, 46 states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs during the past 12 months.)

“A gradual turnaround appears to be taking hold after years of construction employment declines,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “As more stimulus projects get underway and single-family housing starts pick up, we are likely to see the number of states with year-over-year increases grow.”

According to the AGC, “Kansas experienced the highest monthly increase in construction employment (8.7 percent, 5,000 jobs), followed by North Dakota (6.5 percent, 1,300 jobs), Wyoming (6.0 percent, 1,300 jobs), Oklahoma (4.4 percent, 2,900 jobs) and Massachusetts (3.8 percent, 3,900 jobs). Maine (7.7 percent, 1,800 jobs) experienced the highest monthly decline, followed by Vermont (5.7 percent, 700 jobs), Rhode Island (4.3 percent, 700 jobs), Hawaii (3.9 percent, 1,200 jobs) and South Carolina (3.1 percent, 2,500 jobs).”

Simonson noted that the number of states with year-over-year job gains rose to four, led by a jump of 8.1 percent, or 1,300 jobs, in North Dakota. Contractors also added jobs from April 2009 to April 2010 in Kansas, which added 3,800 jobs or 6.5 percent; Alaska, with a gain of 100 jobs or 0.6 percent; and Arkansas, with 200 jobs, or 0.4 percent.

The AGC says the largest annual percentage job losses were in Nevada (28%, 24,300 jobs), Colorado (19%, 26,300 jobs), Vermont (17%, 2,300 jobs), Washington (16%, 26,800 jobs), Idaho (16%, 5,600 jobs) and Maine (16%, 4,000 jobs). The largest numbers of construction job losses were in California (92,300 jobs, 14%), Texas (54,400 jobs, 9%) and Florida (45,300 jobs, 11%).

Simonson cautioned that the slump is far from over, citing high vacancy rates, delays in passing highway and other infrastructure legislation, and declining state and local tax revenue.

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