Events and Products
Politics and Policy
On Aug. 24, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published an announcement of public hearings on the joint proposal “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks” in the Federal Register. The SAFE Vehicles proposed rule would amend certain existing Corporate Average Fuel Economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks and establish new standards for model years 2021 through 2026.
On Aug. 28, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced that it will hold several listening sessions to hear public feedback on white-collar exemption regulations, often referred to as the overtime rule. Issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act, these regulations implement exemptions from overtime pay requirements for executive, administrative, professional and certain other employees. The DOL’s WHD will hold five listening sessions that are free and open to the public; however, participants must register to attend the sessions.
A study released by the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research concluded that West Virginia’s prevailing wage mandate, repealed by the state legislature in 2016, inflated the cost of public school construction. By comparing projects bid from 2013 to 2018 and using data provided by the West Virginia School Building Authority, the authors determined that the cost of projects bid without a prevailing wage requirement were 7.3 percent lower than those bid with government-mandated wages.
For the second time this year, estimated July construction unemployment rates fell in every state and nationally on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released by ABC. The July 2018 not seasonally adjusted national construction unemployment rate fell 1.5 percent to 3.4 percent from July 2017. At the same time, the construction industry employed 303,000 more workers nationally compared to July 2017, according to BLS statistics.
On Aug. 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants, the Affordable Clean Energy proposed rule. It would roll back President Obama’s 2015 regulation, known as the Clean Power Plan, which would have imposed strict regulations on coal-fired power plants and was widely opposed by the construction industry. The CPP was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and has never been in effect.
The U.S. Department of Labor will recognize employer efforts to recruit, employ and retain veterans through the HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program in 2019. Under the program, established under the HIRE Vets Act of 2017, the DOL will begin accepting award applications from small, medium and large employers in January. Check out the hirevets.gov website for information on the timeline, and application fees and criteria for eligibility.
On Aug. 13, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 53 Frequently Asked Questions to provide further guidance to employers and employees regarding OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. Through the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, ABC was involved in the formulation of these FAQs.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced proposed rules to provide critical guidance on the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The proposals would affect tax provisions affecting the construction industry, including temporary 100 percent expensing, the 20 percent deduction on qualified business income for pass-through entities and the implementation of the repatriation transition tax under section 965 as it relates to U.S. shareholders with accumulated foreign earnings.
Prices for inputs to construction fell 0.2 percent in July but are 9.5 percent higher than a year ago, according to an ABC analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Nonresidential construction input prices increased fell 0.3 percent in July but are up 9.6 percent year over year. Softwood lumber prices are up 19.5 percent from July 2017, while iron and steel prices are up 13.4 percent.
On Aug. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a joint notice of proposed rulemaking, the “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks," which would amend certain existing Corporate Average Fuel Economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks and establish new standards. The standards would cover vehicle model years 2021 through 2026.
Missouri voters overturned the state’s Right to Work law—on the ballot as Proposition A—during a special election yesterday. The law, which was passed by the Republication-controlled legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Eric Greitens in February 2017, was scheduled to go into effect Aug. 28, 2017. However, labor groups quickly gathered 310,000 signatures to block the law and place it on the ballot for a public referendum vote Aug. 7, 2018.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revised its Law and Regulations webpage to offer users easier navigation through OSHA standards and rulemaking. The updated webpage features more user-friendly settings, including information buttons that explain regulatory language that may be unfamiliar to some users, a list of key resources and the latest updates on active rulemaking.
The U.S. construction industry added 19,000 net new jobs in July after adding 13,000 net new jobs in June, according to an ABC analysis of data supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry has added 308,000 net new jobs since the first of the year, a robust increase of 4.4 percent.
ABC of Florida signed on to President Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers” at an event celebrating career and technical education in Tampa, Florida, yesterday, committing to educating and developing at least 5,000 construction workers over the next five years. ABC members attended the president’s speech on workforce development at Tampa Bay Technical High School and participated in a roundtable discussion with area business leaders convened by the White House to highlight the need to expand apprenticeship programs.
Nonresidential construction spending contracted 1.6 percent on a monthly basis in June, according to an ABC analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Spending totaled $742.4 billion on a seasonally adjusted annual rate for the month, a 4.2 percent increase from the same time one year ago. Private nonresidential spending fell 0.3 percent in June, while public nonresidential spending contracted by 3.5 percent.
ABC praised Congress and the administration for passing a bipartisan reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, one of the key federal programs that supports vocational education programs that align with local workforce needs and lead to industry-recognized credentials.