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Simonson Said

RR122319 AGCDec. 23, 2019 – Associated General Contractors (AGC) Chief Economist Ken Simonson is looking ahead to 2020. Despite staffing challenges, contractors are optimistic, on balance, regarding their hiring plans and the volume of work available in 2020 for nonresidential and multifamily construction, based on a survey that AGC just released. Respondents were asked whether the available dollar volume of projects they compete for would be higher or lower than in 2019. For all 13 categories of projects, between 27% and 36% of respondents expect a higher volume, while 10% to 21% expect a lower volume. (The remainder expects the volume to remain about the same.) The difference – the net reading – ranged from 25% positive for water and sewer construction down to 8% for private office construction. On balance, respondents were more optimistic than in the 2019 outlook survey for multifamily, infrastructure and institutional categories but less upbeat than before for other nonresidential building segments, Simonson said. 

Read more: Simonson Said

Did Quarry Blast Cause an Earthquake?

RR122019 WiartonQuakeDec. 20, 2019 – Did it or didn't it? A small tremor on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada, appears to be the result of a quarry blast, according to Blackburn News. On Dec. 13, a 2.1 magnitude tremor with an epicentre 14 km north of Wiarton, Ontario, registered on the national seismic network, the article stated. Research Scientist Stephen Crane with Natural Resources Canada said a caller alerted him to the incident, which he determined originated at a quarry off of Bruce County Road 9, southwest of the community of Hope Bay. “We do get a lot of quarry blasts that we pick up with our national seismic network. It is a very sensitive network, so we can pick up things like mining events and quarry blasts,” he said. “It is unusual for that area for us to pick one up.” If a quarry blast caused an earthquake, it must have been one hell of a blast.

Read more: Did Quarry Blast Cause an Earthquake?

Texas Trying to Clear the Air

RR121719 TCEQDec. 17, 2019 – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has expanded its network of air-monitoring stations by introducing two new monitoring stations in Central Texas. One location is in Comal County and the other in Bexar County. Both monitors are now operational, according to Corridor News.

Read more: Texas Trying to Clear the Air

Aggregates Production Growth: By Region

RR030519 USGSlogoDec. 11, 2019 – An estimated 744 Mt of total construction aggregates was produced and shipped for consumption in the United States in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 8% compared with that of the third quarter of 2018, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s new quarterly report. Aggregates production increased in eight of nine regions, with New England showing the only decrease: 

  • New England (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT): -6.5%
  • Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA): 3.6%
  • East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI): 8.4%
  • West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD): 2.6%
  • South Atlantic (DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV): 6.3%
  • East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN): 11.4%
  • West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX): 12.3%
  • Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY): 6.3%
  • Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA): 0.8%

Read more: Aggregates Production Growth: By Region

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement a Bipartisan Win

RR121019 TradeAgreementDec. 10, 2019 – Nice to see some bipartisan cooperation for once. The House of Representatives signaled support for a revised trade deal — called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — that represents an overhaul of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. It would create new intellectual property protections, require more North American parts to be used in automobiles to qualify for zero tariffs, open the Canadian milk market to U.S. farmers, and create new rules for e-commerce. It would also boost wages, benefits and safety rules for workers and put in place updated environmental protections. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups announced backing for the compromise hammered out between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration. The nation’s largest labor federation backed the compromise. “We demanded a trade deal that benefits workers and fought every single day to negotiate that deal; and now we have secured an agreement that working people can proudly support,” said Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO. “There is no question that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA. It is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking hours before representatives of the U.S., Mexico and Canada are expected to sign the revised deal at a meeting in Mexico City. “We’re declaring victory for the American worker.” And President Trump stated his support. "Trade Bill is looking good. It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody – Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions," he tweeted.

Read more: U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement a Bipartisan Win