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Construction Jobs and Industry Employment Projections, June 2010

Construction employment falls to 14 year low in June 2010 -- industry employment tops 20%.

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Seasonally adjusted construction industry employment slipped in June to the lowest total since July 1996 while the industry's unemployment rate remained at 20.1 percent, more than double the average for all workers, according to analysis of new federal figures by the Associated General Contractors of America.

"The recession may have ended a year ago for most of the economy, but for construction, job losses and business closures continue every month," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the construction trade association.

Construction Recession began in August 2006

"While the rest of the economy added nearly a million jobs in the first half of 2010, 114,000 construction workers lost theirs, joining the two million others who have become unemployed since August 2006," Simonson observed.

The industry added 49,000 jobs in March and April as homebuilders and highway contractors geared up, but 30,000 jobs disappeared in May and 22,000 in June as housing cooled and nonresidential building slumped further.

Outlook for nonresidential building construction

The outlook for nonresidential building construction remains ominous, according to Simonson.

In May, the latest month for which such data is available, architectural firms laid off workers for the 21st time in 22 months.

"If there's less work for architects now, there will be less for building contractors to bid on and build in coming months," Simonson remarked.

Infrastructure Construction Grows...with Stimulus Funds

In contrast, engineering and drafting firms, which design infrastructure projects, added jobs three months in a row through May."

Heavy and civil engineering construction-the category that covers most workers in transportation, power, water and wastewater construction -- added 1,300 workers in June and has held roughly steady since last October, as federal stimulus funds have boosted construction in these categories, Simonson noted.

"The stimulus has helped," said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the association, "but any gains the industry experienced will evaporate unless Congress and the Administration promptly enact long-term spending bills for transportation, water, wastewater, rivers and harbors."

Construction Trends

The focus has changed from office buildings to renewable power plants... from offices to manufacturing. Construction careers need to change with these changing times. The signals are coming from the top, from the state level, and from the venture capital sectors.

Department of Energy Awards Solar Plant Building Funds in Arizona, Colorado and Indiana

the Department of Energy awarded Abengoa Solar and Abound Solar Manufacturing $1.8 billion to fund new solar plants. The award is part of the $862 billion stimulus bill earmarked to reduce the U.S.’s dependence on oil, protect the environment, and create sustainable jobs.

Abengoa Solar, an Arizona-based company, has agreed to build one of the largest solar plants in the world. It estimates the project will avoid emitting over 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year—equal to the amount of carbon dioxide produced by over 90,000 cars each year. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall with the plant being fully operational by mid-2013.

And, Abound Solar Manufacturing will build two new plants, one in Colorado and the other in Indiana. By 2013, annual production of panels will be able to support the production of 840 megawatts of new solar power each year, enough to power more than 200,000 homes.

These projects are estimated to create more than 5,000 jobs in construction and permanent employment.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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