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On Sept. 27 and 28, the U.S. House of Representatives passed three bills (H.R. 6757, H.R. 6756 and H.R. 6760) that comprise the Tax Reform 2.0 package. ABC key voted these three bills and appreciates the important work of the House in moving these bills forward and building on the successes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These bills now move to the Senate, where their fate will likely be determined after the November elections by whichever party is in control of the Congress in 2019. 

Larry Lopez, president and chief executive officer of Green JobWorks, Baltimore, and chairman of ABC’s Diversity Committee, testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access on how recent economic growth is positively impacting local communities. Lopez outlined how small businesses—which account for the majority of U.S. construction firms—are benefiting because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other pro-business policies implemented by Congress and the Trump administration.

Is your company among the biggest and the best? Find out when ABC publishes the ABC Top Performers lists to recognize member contractors’ achievements in safety, quality, diversity, project excellence, federal designations and revenue, ranked by work hours. 

ABC member company S & B Engineers and Constructors Ltd. celebrated the grand opening this week of their new Craft Education and Skills Enhancement Center, a 12,500-square-foot education facility that includes three classrooms and five bays for hands-on craft education activities. Located in Baytown, Texas, the facility provides skill enhancement opportunities for S & B’s construction workforce across multiple disciplines, including welding, pipefitting, electrical, millwright, civil and rigging, carpentry, crane operating, ironworking, scaffolding and safety. 

In front of a nearly sold-out crowd of more than 41,000 people, 2018 National Craft Championships gold medalists and the Craft Professional of the Year stood on the Washington Nationals baseball field July 3 and were honored for their hard work as trained craftsmen. The crowd cheered them on while the ABC logo spread across the stadium, showcasing the theme of the night—free enterprise.

Construction contractors remained confident during the second quarter of 2018, according to the latest Construction Confidence Index released today by ABC. More than three in four construction firms expect that sales will continue to rise over the next six months, while three in five expect higher profit margins. More than seven in 10 expect to bolster staffing levels, though that proportion has fallen relative to the previous quarter, perhaps in part due to the skilled labor shortage in the United States. 

On Sept. 14, the National Labor Relations Board published a proposed rule that would establish an updated standard for determining joint-employer liability under the National Labor Relations Act. The proposal aims to foster predictability, consistency and stability in the determination of joint-employer status, and therefore clarifies the standard in a way that promotes meaningful collective bargaining and advances the purposes of the NLRB.

More than 500 ABC members gathered in Washington, D.C., during ABC Legislative Week 2018 for meetings with top administration and congressional leaders on the issues that impact the merit shop construction industry at both the federal and state levels. Members attended the ABC Diversity & Inclusion Summit, Young Professionals Symposium, Free Enterprise Alliance Reception, Legislative Day and Legal Conference.

ABC reports that its Construction Backlog Indicator expanded to a record 9.9 months during the second quarter of 2018. Backlog is up 12.2 percent from the first quarter and 14 percent compared to the same time last year. “Construction backlog has never been higher in the history of this series,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “While contractors collectively reported a higher backlog, it was the industrial contractor segment that had the largest increase in the second quarter.”

On Sept.13, ABC sent a letter to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to voice support for Tax Reform 2.0 legislation, which would build on the successes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by providing permanency to the nation’s tax code and certainty for ABC member companies and their employees. The committee passed the bill on a party-line vote of 21-15, and it is expected to receive a vote on the House floor later this month. 

More than 100 industry leaders and key stakeholders came together for the fourth annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit to discuss the value of diversity in construction and promote the association's mission within diverse groups during ABC Legislative Week 2018. They engaged in thought-provoking discussions and learned from solution-based recommendations to help ABC members build diverse workplaces and supplier networks.

Prices for inputs to construction fell 0.5 percent in August but are 8.1 percent higher than at the same time one year ago, according to an ABC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Nonresidential construction input prices fell 0.4 percent in August but are up 8.3 percent year-over-year. Softwood lumber prices plummeted 9.6 percent in August yet are up 5 percent on a yearly basis (down from a 19.5 percent increase year-over-year in July).

With Hurricane Florence approaching the East Coast, OSHA is reminding contractors of resources to help keep construction workers safe during natural disasters. Hurricane season peaks in September, and wildfires are still burning throughout the Pacific Northwest and from California to Colorado. OSHA urges employers to be prepared to keep their workers safe during extreme weather events. The agency’s Emergency Preparedness and Response webpage provides information on protecting workers before and after hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters strike. 

The U.S. construction industry added 23,000 net new jobs in August, an increase from the 18,000 net new jobs added in July, according to an ABC analysis of data supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry has added 297,000 net new jobs since August 2017, a 4.3 percent increase. Nonresidential construction employment increased by 9,600 net jobs in August, although the heavy and civil engineering category lost 200 net jobs for the month.

On Aug. 30, the U.S. Department of Labor launched apprenticeship.gov, a digital platform designed to bring together workers in search of apprenticeship programs and the employers offering these opportunities across multiple industries.

On Aug. 28, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced the Department of Labor’s new Office of Compliance Initiatives, which aims to promote greater understanding of federal laws and regulations and provide innovative approaches to compliance assistance and enforcement.      

During its third annual Build Your Future Scholarship program, NCCER awarded scholarships of $2,000 each to 10 students who are pursuing craft professional education in the construction industry. NCCER and ABC’s Trimmer Construction Education Fund partner annually to present the scholarships to the top students attending an NCCER-accredited program or a state or federally-approved apprenticeship program in a merit shop training facility. 

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced three new directives, and the DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service opened the filing season for the VETS-4212 report. 

In February 2017, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the 2015 final Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States," also known as the WOTUS final rule, and accordingly revise or rescind it through public comment.

On Sept. 4, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued a notice to announce that the minimum wage for federal contractors will increase to $10.60 from the current $10.35 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2019. 

National nonresidential construction spending declined 0.3 percent in July, according to an ABC analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Total nonresidential spending stood at $748.8 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate in July, an increase of 5.3 percent from the same time last year. Private nonresidential spending fell 1 percent in July, while public nonresidential spending expanded 0.7 percent.

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