Each Monday, we'll let you know what's coming in the week ahead, including important residential and commercial report releases, as well as our feature articles.
Building material innovation feature article — Nov. 10
Although 3-D printing technology tends to dominate the conversation, the industry has also seen significant material innovations. Recently, researchers have made significant strides in concrete advancements. Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales started testing three concrete healing technologies last week based on their self-healing concrete formula. And in September, interest in permeable concrete — primarily its ability to prevent devastating damage caused by stormwater runoff — skyrocketed due to a recent video demonstration in which a parking lot paved with a product called Topmix Permeable absorbs more than 1,000 gallons of water in a minute.
We talked with experts to find out if there has been a recent surge in building material innovation and, if so, what's driving it. Check out our coverage of new material innovations on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Women in construction trades feature article — Nov. 12
The labor shortage continues to plague the construction industry, as a lack of skilled workers has left some companies unable to meet rising demand. In a recent AGC study, 86% of contractors reported difficulty in finding qualified hourly and salaried workers.
The industry has typically relied on immigrants and workers coming out of vocational programs to staff job sites. However, John Burns Real Estate Consulting reported in September that the U.S. construction industry lost 570,000 Mexican-born workers since 2007, and most haven't come back. The number of U.S. students choosing trade and vocational programs is also dwindling, as the AGC is emphasizing its initiatives to encourage that line of work.
Due to the loss of these major employee groups, some construction companies have turned their attention to drawing women into the industry through programs for female trades, estimators, supervisors and project managers. Will these initiatives become more widespread as the industry searches for a solution to the labor shortage? Read more in our feature article on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Producer Price Index — Nov. 13
The monthly Producer Price Index report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be released Friday, Nov. 13. That afternoon, the Associated Builders and Contractors will offer their take on the data, and we'll cover both reports in a combined story.
Last month, the BLS reported construction materials prices fell 1.6% between August and September and 5.3% year-over-year, the largest yearly decline since October 2009. ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu attributed September's decrease, which followed a 0.9% dip in August, to the global economy that "has continued to soften in recent weeks."
Despite possible negative implications about the global economy, the lower material prices could signal good news for builders looking to capitalize on the cheaper commodities during a construction boom across the U.S.
Will Friday's report continue the steady decline in material prices, or will they bounce back?