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Weighing in on some industry related news

It appears that the construction industry has been placed on notice by OSHA. The federal agency responsible for workplace safety intends to step up their efforts this year by implementing new regulations that will surely demand the attention of worksite bosses around the country.

OSHA’s warning to the industry is backed up by an increased budget and more regulatory personnel on the payroll. With this shot-in-the-arm, OSHA is poised to take action on making new regulations official this year or perhaps next.

The agency has reportedly been working up a host of new regulations for the past few years, and now that the Obama Administration is safely in place for another term, many expect the pace of activity to pick up for OSHA after being held up due to the uncertainty of 2012 election.

The construction industry has been one of the agency’s main focuses for quite some time and the anticipated increase in OSHA activity should be sufficient motivation for employers to be sure they stay abreast of all current and future regulations. The emphasis should always be on safety whether or not employers are expecting the feds to come calling or not.

In what might be considered a sign of an improving economic outlook, home builder D.R. Horton, Inc. has recently surpassed Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. for the 397th spot on the S&P 500. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, the company employs approximately 3,400 and boasts sales of around $4.7 billion.

Other interesting news comes by way of Florida, where Lennar Corp. is located. A Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst recently upgraded the company’s stock to “Outperform.” Like many in the construction industry, the Miami-based home builder took a beating a few years ago when the economy took a turn for the worse. Lately, however, the demand for new homes has been on the rise, prompting analysts to expect good things for the company’s stock in the future.

A report just released by the Associated General Contractors of America reveals that construction industry employment has experienced an increase over the past year. The data reveals that the number of jobs has increased in 170 of the 339 metropolitan areas considered during the period between April 2012 and April 2013. The numbers declined in 123 areas and were unchanged in 46 other areas.

The association’s chief economist sounded optimistic in his remarks in response to the new figures. Ken Simonson reacted with the following statement: “Demand for construction continues to grow in many parts of the country amid increasing private-sector investments in new residential, energy and supply chain facilities like factories, rail lines and warehouses.”

Leading the pack among metro areas considered was Pascagoula, Mississippi which posted the best gain in construction employment with a total of 1,700 new jobs, making for a 45 percent increase.

Areas that did not enjoy the same increase in jobs include the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Illinois area where a loss of 5,900 jobs occurred, which made for a 5% overall reduction.

Clearly the outlook for the construction sector is still mixed but these positive indicators in some areas may be a sign of better times ahead. A lot of people in the construction industry, and many others, are certainly hoping that is the case.

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