Bellingham contractors meet to discuss trends

By Isaac Bonnell

Residential home construction is expected to finally turn around this year, but total construction spending could continue to decline, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors (AGC).

Simonson spoke during an AGC of Washington luncheon on July 13 at the Hotel Bellwether. He talked about construction trends around the country, from the cost of materials to bidding on public projects. 

Some notable statistics include:

  • Washington has lost 14 percent of its construction jobs in the last year.
  • Construction in the power industry has increased 13 percent nationally; construction in the manufacturing industry has increased 55 percent.
  • Office construction has dropped 12 percent and hotel/resort construction has dropped 18 percent. 
  • The cost of materials such as diesel, concrete and steel are expected to drop about 4 percent this year. 

Simonson also estimated that $135 billion of the $787 billion stimulus bill is going toward construction projects, but contractors should not expect it to save the industry.

“I don’t want to oversell stimulus as the salvation of the construction industry,” he said. “It’s not enough to fill in for state and local cutbacks on construction.”

Out of all the charts and graphs, Tim Hart of Boss Construction said he found it interesting to see a state-by-state comparison of labor statistics. Nearly all of the states — except for North Dakota and Louisiana — have seen a dramatic drop in construction jobs.

“Compared to other states, we’re right about the middle of the pack,” Hart said. 

The Associated General Contractors of America has 95 chapters around the country, representing about 7,000 contractors and 13,000 suppliers. For more information about the local chapter, call (360) 223-8757 or visit www.agcwa.org.

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