Looking at the big picture, the construction industry overview was a good one internationally, with global construction projects increasing by 72% over the last year, according to data from Hydrocarbon Processing, an international trade magazine.
A little more locally, the recovery picture was slightly less dramatic. Dodge Data and Analytics (formerly McGraw-Hill Construction) estimated that the U.S. construction industry saw a 5% increase over the previous year, for a total of $564 billion, with a larger 9% gain for new start ups projected for 2015, for a total of $612 billion.
The increase in construction project start-ups was seen across the entire industry. There were more residential and building construction start ups in urban areas this year, especially in southern states like Texas and Florida, and western ones, especially California. Infrastructure and bridge construction projects increased in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic regions. Pennsylvania in particular either started or was poised to start a number of new highway projects in 2014. The state spent $2.4 billion on such work by November, and was planning on a similar amount being spent in 2015.
According to information provided by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, from January 2014-November 2014, roughly 1,350 workers per month were employed in the construction of buildings. Within that same time frame, roughly 920 workers per month were employed in heavy and civil engineering construction. And for much of that same period, roughly 3,800 workers per month were employed in the specialty trade contractors field.
Construction market data compiled by the DOL was obtained largely from survey and statistical information provided by employers. Because the DOL is so dependent on industry reporting, site foremen and supervisors should make every effort to make sure that daily reporting is accurate and accessible. To this end, they should utilize construction software, like Raken, which can also cut down on daily report filing time.
Construction software in fact, was one of the big trends in 2014 that industry analysts were excited about. Others included mobility, flexibility, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and talent management.
Talent management in particular is a trend that deserves further scrutiny, because two of the trends projected in our industry for 2015 are: (1.) more work within the industry overall, and (2.) fewer skilled workers to do this increased work.
This means that as managers and supervisors contemplate gift giving, Christmas tree disposal and New Year's parties, they should set aside some time to contemplate finding, retaining, and offering enhanced training to employees as well.