Biden’s Budget Boosts Construction Industry

construction industry

On Friday, May 28, 2021, President Biden released his 2022 FY budget. It calls for $6+ trillion in spending that “reimagines how – and for whom – the economy works,” says Vox reporter Cameron Peters. Infrastructure spending and education are focal points.

“Trickle-down economics has never worked,” said Biden. “The best way to grow our economy is not from the top down but from the bottom up and the middle out.”

For the most part, Biden’s ambitious plan benefits our construction industry. But a 13% cut to the Army Corps of Engineers is coming under some scrutiny. But Veterans Affairs would see a 22% increase.

Rebuild Illinois Serves as Construction Industry Flagship

Also in May 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a $45 billion bill that is among the largest capital programs in the construction industry this year and the largest ever in Illinois. It’s also the first program that is multimodal. “Every aspect and mode of transportation in every part of Illinois will be touched by it,” says the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT).

The plan may create approximately 540,000 jobs. IDOT is also renewing efforts to revitalize the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program in hopes of attracting more small businesses to the projects.

The project’s funding breakdown includes:

  • $25.3B – Roads, bridges
  • $4.6B – Mass transit
  • $1B – Rail
  • $679M – Miscellaneous transportation
  • $558M – Aeronautics
  • $492M – Create
  • $312M – Grade crossing protection
  • $150M – Ports

The total is $33.2 billion.

Making a Good Year Better

Hopefully, it’s truly been a happier new year for you. Your Construction Monitor subscription can make it better. Our basic, free information includes:

Most of us are “control freaks.” That’s how we got started in business in the first place. Control freaks say, “I don’t have time” a lot.

Sign on for a one-week free trial to access our subscriber information. If you don’t have time, someone in your organization is eager to grow your business. Look at your team closely to find that person. Then contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Business One Year Post-Pandemic

construction industry

Of the key economic indicators for our country, housing starts are a leading indicator. Housing starts are sensitive to mortgage rates, which are affected by interest rates, so they represent about 4% of annual gross domestic product (GDP). The industry itself and your construction business are considered economic activities.

What’s Changed, Unchanged In 1 Year: Construction Business

The pandemic has had a lasting impact on how we live, socialize, and work. But we’re nothing if not adaptable. What has changed the construction industry since 2020?

  • Architectural design – This may be the most lasting change we’ll see. Commercial construction has altered itself to accommodate safety for traditional gathering spaces. Plan on better air filtration systems and adaptable, modular construction that limits contact.
  • Education – Online classes are zooming (bad pun intended) but there’s no replacement for hands-on training in a hands-on industry. Safer classroom layouts and mask-wearing have helped as well as virtual testing with remote proctoring.
  • Safety – The virus added “new considerations” to safety protocol, says the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). We added masks as ongoing PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • Scheduling – Staggered shifts to accommodate fewer onsite employees have proven beneficial.

The shortage of skilled workers (“talent”) in the construction business hasn’t changed. One of the factors was the exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce. And now, Gen-Xers (born between 1965-1979/80) are approaching retirement. The pandemic only exacerbated our worker shortage.

The average age of a craft professional
is between 48-52 years old.
Jonathan Arnholz

You need to consider employment incentives and marketing strategies to attract and retain talent to your construction business:

  • Create a positive workplace culture.
  • Develop a formal mentorship program.
  • Foster teamwork; camaraderie.
  • Include employees in the decision-making process.

Involving employees in company business is another strategy that makes sense. Every time you say, “I don’t have time…,” delegate that responsibility to an employee.

You don’t have time to sort building permit data and we do. But if analyzing that data for business development is also a time challenge, consider employee options. Because construction is an essential industry and critical to our economy, keeping it healthy just makes sense. The process begins with you.

Contact Construction Monitor for ideas.

Gen Z as Construction Business Employees

construction business employees

We lost out on Gen X skilled trades and we’re partly to blame. “Our culture has been taught and is passing on a poor perception of trades,” said ConstructEd.

If perception is the problem, then perception is the fix. It’s time to promote what we do as valuable and exciting. Let’s change the way the construction business is seen by the Gen Z (1995-2015) workforce.

If you’re a construction business employer or recruiter, you need to know: What will appeal to this new workforce?

Attracting Skilled Gen Zers to Your Construction Business

It’s never too early to attract young people to skilled trades opportunities. Randi Bakalar, Doosan Bobcat North America

The average 4-year degree graduate has $40,000 or more in student loans and limited opportunities. In contrast, a 2-year skilled trades program often includes internships, paid on-the-job training, and employment is abundant.

Connect. Let’s begin cultivating high school students at job fairs and with presentations that showcase construction industry jobs. Emphasis should be on:

  • Advancement – Career growth is important to this age group. The construction industry offers a proliferation of leadership and management opportunities.
  • Benefits – A potential 6-figure income that doesn’t include student loan payoffs is enticing, but Gen Zers may care more about job satisfaction and good work/life balance. Emphasize the well-rounded advantages of construction business employment.
  • Technology – Texting is a viable form of communication for this age group. Gen Zers are technology-savvy and when you encourage technology solutions for your company, you’ll be seen as a better employer.

You Can End the Skilled Trades Shortage

Many advanced countries don’t value 60-hour/week office jobs as much as we do. What good is earning more money if your sedentary desk job is going to impact your quality of life? That’s something Gen Z workers care about and upon which the construction industry should capitalize. Our work is rewarding and promotes a healthier lifestyle.

“Promotion” is the key to ending the skilled trades shortage. Shamelessly advertise your company as an industry leader; tell the world about your technological innovations, successful employees, and employment advantages.

As the Gen Zers might say, “Put yourself out there.” It’s the first step toward connecting with talented workers.

When you want to connect with business opportunities, put Construction Monitor to work. Call us for more information.

Construction Industry Partners with Technology to Overcome Challenges

construction industry technology

We’re facing a lot of challenges. But for our labor-driven construction industry, the shortage of talent is having the biggest impact. We need user-friendly technology solutions and we need them now.

Machine-Control Technology: The Construction Industry Partner

Excavation is one of the most complex aspects of project work for the construction industry. Becoming an excavation professional takes many years of experience. That makes it perfect for machine-control technology.

Leica Geosystems says 32% of construction industry contractors cite machine control for minimizing pandemic issues on project sites last year. Today, 47% of our contractors are using machine control technology.

Machine-Control Apps Increase Work Turnaround By 30%

Machine control is…the use of integrated on-machine sensors and/or geospatial technology including lasers and positioning satellites…This technology can be divided into two basic categories: guidance/indicate-only systems, and automatic systems.CASE News

Using semi-automatic technology, a machine-controlled excavator offers:

  • 30% faster work using a grading app
  • Bucket height auto-adjustment
  • Cross-cut surface protection
  • Easy engagement
  • Rotation-controlled cross-cut (combines the auto bucket and auto-tilt to match target surface regardless of bucket rotation)
  • Smart slope detection

Productivity goes up because it’s faster and less stressful,” says one user. “Because the operator doesn’t have to focus as much attention on keeping the bucket on the grade (there is) less fatigue at the end of the day.”

Cellphones, Tablets Work Smarter So You Don’t Work Harder

Construction industry contractors are also learning more about modeling solutions and drone technology to estimate and track project progress. AGTEK says its goal is to make data import and export to machines easier no matter what you’re working with. CAD files and other formats can be sent as a completed GPS model to a machine.

Powerful, Effective Information 

When you partner with technology, you can overcome many construction industry challenges. But software apps can only do so much.

It’s the same way with building permit information. We can customize the data for your U.S. region. We can provide construction competitors and startup statistics. We’ve got analyses for historical trends.

You’ve got to utilize that technology to develop your business. We can tell you how. For U.S. building permit data, call 800-925-6085 (international 435-586-1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Safety: Talking the Talk

construction safety

Maybe the most important aspect of promoting construction safety on the jobsite is encouraging proactivity. The construction industry was primarily (and still is) developed and staffed by men. And real men keep their mouths shut, right?

Wrong. It’s time to say something when you see a potential safety hazard. If a co-worker is doing something dangerous, it’s your business. Construction safety is everybody’s business.

Seven Tips for Construction Safety Toolbox Talks

Toolbox talks are informal gatherings at which construction safety is the main topic. The leader should ensure the atmosphere is such that workers feel comfortable enough to comment or ask questions.

Here are seven tips for leading construction safety toolbox talks:

  1. Choose a Good Location – Find a quiet, low-traffic area onsite.
  2. Don’t Forget Health – Health isn’t an oh-by-the-way topic. It has a significant outcome on safety. Perhaps alternate health-and-safety topics; every other gathering, make health the focal point.
  3. Keep It Short/Simple – Your timeframe goal is 15 minutes. If it runs longer because attendees have questions and issues, allow time for those that need it and let others feel free to return to work. Stay on-topic – construction safety. Don’t use the time for other information or issues.
  4. Reinforce a Safety Culture – Encourage workers to express ideas for and concerns about jobsite safety. And if they see a red flag, speak up. On a construction worksite, silence isn’t golden. It can be deadly, in fact.
  5. Strive for Relevance – If scaffolding work is scheduled for that day, talk about safety measures for working heights.
  6. Take Attendance – Make note of attendees and document attendance.
  7. Use Visuals – If possible, adding visual media adds impact to your message.

Summer 2021 may prove to be a banner season for the construction industry. Right now, we have the fourth-highest unemployment rate, but look for that to change this summer. 

Our priority at Construction Monitor is to provide information you can use. Time management, efficiency, business development – those are topics we can speak to. Contact us for more information you can use.

And as you head into what may be one of the busiest seasons in recent history, make construction safety a topic you can speak to.

OSHA Updates Vaccination Policy for Construction Industry

COVID-19 vaccine construction workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended construction industry project managers and team leaders encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) suggested onsite vaccination clinics, paid-time-off incentives, and other promotions to increase the number of vaccinated construction workers.

To clarify, the general consensus is an employer can require the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. Michigan and Indiana currently have bills preventing this, but there’s been no action taken.

OSHA 29 CFR 1904 said if an employer required the vaccination as a condition of employment and an employee suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccine, the event should be recorded. Documenting adverse reactions to the vaccine on OSHA 300 logs was required.

Then OSHA said never mind.

OSHA said it felt the Form 300 requirement disincentivized employers’ vaccination encouragement efforts. The May 21 updated guidance is in effect through May 2022.

Employers must record work-related injuries and illnesses if they involve:

  • Days off work
  • Death
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job
  • Significant injury

While allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine have been rare, many people suffer flu-like symptoms shortly after their vaccinations. Those flu-like reactions can be debilitating enough that the “days off work” stipulation would be applicable.

Construction industry employers were concerned that by recording adverse vaccination reactions (days off work due to flu-like symptoms), enough red flags would be raised that could increase their workers’ comp costs. The logs may have tripped a wire that would increase onsite OSHA inspections. And the “dings” on their OSHA records might have affected bidding opportunities.

Partnering Can Overcome Challenges

Working through the pandemic fallout and encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations remains challenging.

Another challenge faced by the construction industry is we’re still slow to adopt technology. Robotics, drones, 3D architecture – when you’re juggling expenses, upgrades are often low on the list of priorities.

Construction Monitor LLC has an affordable technology that shows a measurable ROI (return on investment). Our information is U.S.-related, but our customers include global investors. To learn more about our technology tools and strategic partnerships, contact us today.