Associated General Contractors Blog

Oregon Construction Jobs Grow to 98,200; Highest Since 2007

AGCA_bugForty-three states added construction jobs between February 2016 and February 2017 while 39 states added construction jobs between January and February, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released today. Association officials noted that the despite the relatively widespread increase in construction employment, most states are still significantly below peak construction employment levels.

“A combination of solid demand and unseasonably mild weather added to construction employment in more states than usual in February,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association.  “But conditions vary widely. Five states set new records for construction employment, while more than half the states are still at least 10 percent below their all-time highs.”

Ken's photo 100x121

Ken Simonson, Chief Economist, AGC of America

Florida added the most construction jobs (34,700 jobs, 7.5 percent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include California (16,500 jobs, 2.2 percent); Texas (14,200 jobs, 2.0 percent); and Louisiana (13,500 jobs, 9.6 percent). Rhode Island added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (12.2 percent, 2,200 jobs), followed by Idaho (10.4 percent, 4,200 jobs); Oregon (10.0 percent, 8,900 jobs) and Louisiana. Five states reached new highs for construction employment: Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, South Dakota and Texas.

Seven states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between February 2016 and February 2017. Mississippi lost the highest number and percentage of construction jobs (-4,000 jobs, -8.7 percent). Other locations with steep percentage losses include D.C. (-6.9 percent, -1,100 jobs) and Alaska (-3.0 percent, -500 jobs). Virginia (-1,400 jobs, -0.7 percent) had the second-highest number of job losses over the year, followed by D.C.

Illinois added the most construction jobs between January and February (7,300 jobs, 3.4 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Ohio (6,300 jobs, 3.0 percent); California (5,100 jobs, 0.7 percent); Colorado (5,000 jobs, 3.2 percent) and Minnesota (4,500 jobs, 3.8 percent). Alaska added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (7.9 percent, 1,200 jobs), followed by Delaware (4.7 percent, 1,000 jobs); South Dakota (4.2 percent, 1,000 jobs); Minnesota and Vermont (3.8 percent, 600 jobs).

Construction employment declined in 10 states during the past month and was unchanged in D.C. and New Mexico. Virginia shed more construction jobs than any other state (-3,200 jobs, -1.7 percent), followed by South Carolina (-2,600 jobs, -2.6 percent) and Mississippi (-1,600 jobs, -3.7 percent). Mississippi lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between January and February, followed by South Carolina and Virginia.

Association officials said that many firms continue to face shortages of available qualified workers as they try to keep pace with growing demand.  They urged federal, state and local officials to act on measures outlined in the association’s Workforce Development plan to increase career and technical education opportunities, especially for high school students.

Sandherr 2011

Steve Sandherr, President & CEO, AGC of America

“More high school students should know that there are multiple paths to successful careers, and often those paths lead to construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.  “If we want construction firms to continue expanding, we need to make sure there are enough qualified workers available to do the job.”

View the state employment data by rank and state. View the state employment map.


DOSH Resources to Help Prevent Serious Injuries and Falls

Labor and Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety & Health (DOSH) has noticed an increasing number of serious injuries due to falls from elevations, including ladders.

fall protectionDOSH has a web page full of ideas and resources that provides opportunity for your company to focus on safety training, equipment inspection, and/or other injury prevention efforts on fall hazards that can cause serious injuries and sometimes death at your business or work site.

To find awareness, inspection, and training requirements and resources, visit DOSH’s Focus on FACTS – Falls page to take action to keep your employees safe and working.

Genie Lift Recall Notice

Genie Recall: Control System Malfunction

Genie Recall, February 27, 2017Models Affected

  • GS-3232
  • GS-4047
  • X-14


Genie has determined that the control system utilized on the referenced machines can malfunction. A malfunctioning control system can result in the issues listed below:

  • GS-3232: This control system malfunction allows the operator to lift and drive the machine with the platform raised above the maximum allowable travel height of 22 ft / 6.7 m. A machine that is driven with the platform raised above 22 ft / 6.7 m can cause the machine to lose stability resulting in a tip over. Note: This Safety Notice supersedes Safety Notice 120013 issued on October 15, 2012.
  • GS-4047 and X-14: This control system malfunction can cause the platform to lower after the controls are released, resulting in unintended machine movement. Unintended machine movement can result in a hazardous situation.

Action(s) Required:

  1. Locate the affected machines referenced in the recall notice.
  2. Using the tables, determine the appropriate action for your machine.

View the recall notice.

AGC Mourns Margaret Schommer, Longtime Industry Member

Margaret Schommer (1920–2017)

Margaret Schommer (1920–2017)

Margaret Schommer (1920–2017)

June 21, 1920 Feb. 24, 2017 Margaret Schommer passed away peacefully, Feb. 24, 2017 at age 96. She was preceded in death by her husband, Andrew Schommer. Margaret cherished her 35 years spent with her husband.

Margaret grew up in Yonkers, N.Y. She attended Yonkers #4 Public School and completed her high school education there. She spent a year in business college, and went to work at the Macy’s department store. Later she had an opportunity to go to work at Tishman Realty on Wall Street, and remained there for four years as a personal assistant to Mr. Healy, the owner. With no real future at Tishman, Margaret pursued other opportunities and found work with future potential at the Shell Oil Company, where she was working when she met her future husband, Andy.

Margaret belonged to The Catholic Young Women’s Club, which put on dances for U.S. service men before they shipped out overseas in the WWII effort. Andy and Margaret met at the first dance that she and her friend Peggy attended. When Andy deployed, they agreed to correspond while he was gone; they kept in touch for four years. Andy was discharged in New York and stayed for three weeks before he returned to Portland where he had established his building business. Andy and Margaret kept in touch, with both Margaret visiting Portland and Andy returning to New York where they were married June 7, 1947. Andy and Margaret returned to Portland where they made their home and raised their family. They had three sons, Stephen, Craig, and Robert. Margaret and Andy were devout Catholics and devoted their lives to the Catholic Church.

Throughout her life she became and remained an inspiration to all who met her with her zeal and enthusiasm for her Catholic life. Margaret was a caring and loving homemaker and mother to her three sons. Later she helped raise her nieces, Carol, Rene, and Leona. In addition to these family duties, Margaret was involved with Schommer and Sons from the time she married Andy Schommer in 1947 until just a few years ago. In the early days, she handled the office duties by herself, as the Schommer office was located in the basement of their home. In later years as the company expanded, she maintained an office at their Sandy Blvd. location and then at Colwood Way. Margaret was a trainer and mentor to the office ladies as the company grew. She was also a mother to the project managers, and a friend and confidant to the field personnel. She was very interested in the business until the day she passed, and was always asking questions when her sons visited her.

In 2001 Margaret moved to Summerplace and joined St. Therese Parish, where she remained an active member participating in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Guild. Margaret spent her “golden years” traveling, square dancing, enjoying her grandchildren, and later, her great-grandchildren. Margaret prided herself on her love of the lord and her strong Catholic faith. She was devoted to St. Therese, The Little Flower. Margaret was a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. She is survived by her three sons, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren: son, Stephen and wife, Josefina (Titay); granddaughter, Theresa and husband, Khalid; great-grandchildren, Braylon and Aria; grandson, Paul, Anthony and wife Kara, Craig and wife, Kelly; granddaughters, Alexandra and Ingrid; Robert and wife, Leslie; grandson, Kyle; and granddaughter, Leigh. Remembrances may be made to: Discalced Carmelite Friars of Mt. Angel, Ore., or the Frank D. Masterson, S.J. Memorial Fund at Jesuit High School of Portland.

OP-ED: Construction’s next generation making connections at OSU

SC2013_DJC_320x320Mike Salsgiver, Executive DirectorAcross the United States, a reality of our education system is that 50 percent of high school students go to college, but only half of those students earn a degree. But the graduation rate for students in the Construction Engineering Management (CEM) program at Oregon State University is significantly higher – nearly 90 percent every year.

Along with a remarkable CEM program, there is an active and vibrant Associated General Contractors student chapter at OSU. The AGC of America has more than 200 student chapters nationwide. The OSU chapter was the first collegiate chapter in the United States to open, and has proven to be an immense benefit to both students and Oregon’s commercial construction industry.

Two highly engaged members of OSU’s CEM program and AGC student chapter perfectly highlight what makes being an “Oregon State engineer” so special and how it has affected their college experiences.

Kenneth Semenko is a third-year student at Oregon State and has been involved in the AGC student chapter for all three of those years. Throughout his time in the student chapter, he has held numerous leadership positions, including sophomore representative, outreach coordinator, and speaker meeting coordinator. Semenko tells us that through the student chapter’s exciting events he has been able to meet great people with similar interests and a drive to succeed. He also emphasizes that the student chapter has an exceptional level of involvement, which is very rare among student groups.

Semenko knows that when he graduates, the connections he has made with classmates and industry partners through the student chapter will be beneficial in the search for a good job. For this reason, he is thankful for his involvement in an organization that directly supports the industry, exposes students to industry-leading speakers, and supports the recruitment of new talent.

Amelia Cecchini has had a similar experience with OSU’s AGC student chapter. When she began attending the university as a freshman, she was unsure of what she wanted to do professionally. She had an interest in engineering, but did not know what type of engineering she wanted to specialize in – until she met the president of the AGC student chapter. Not only did he introduce her to the CEM program, but he explained what the degree could offer and the places it could take her. After that, she was hooked.

Over the past four years in school, AGC has introduced Cecchini to peers and industry members who have pushed her to become the person she is today. Involvement in AGC has greatly enhanced her college experience, and she will always be grateful for that chance encounter with the AGC student chapter president early on.

When we discuss the student chapter with AGC’s contractors, the universal response is that these students are world-class. Their involvement in the chapter and the larger CEM program gives them a breadth of knowledge in engineering fundamentals and an unparalleled depth of technical expertise. They learn the value of and gain practice in clear communication and collaborative working processes. They think critically and question assumptions.

When these students graduate, they will join a community of high achievers whose collective efforts solve seemingly intractable problems, strengthen individuals and communities, and contribute to a better world. Competition among member companies to recruit and hire these students is intense.

Additionally, the graduation statistics of the CEM students and AGC student chapter members are notable. OSU reports that 73 percent of students had completed at least one industry-related internship and over 90 percent of the students had at least one full-time job offer prior to graduation. The market segments that these students will enter include marine contracting, residential contracting, mechanical contracting, heavy civil contracting, and commercial contracting. The average base salary of those CEM students directly following graduation was $59,162, well above Oregon’s average salary for private-sector employees.

What these student perspectives and more than 50 years of program experience show is that by connecting with viable employers via internships and mentorships during school, students are more encouraged and better positioned to enter the industry and earn family-wage jobs. The academic level of the CEM program’s curriculum, partnered with membership in the AGC student chapter and the engagement of the industry as a whole, has repeatedly proven to strongly prepare students for a wide range of post-graduate options.

The industry’s commitment to quality construction education is essential to the successful development of our future workforce. OSU is producing a unique class of engineers who possess a strong technical foundation, a strong practical experience, and well-developed interpersonal and leadership skills with a broad worldview. The mentorship opportunities that AGC student chapters provide, and the exposure to a number of post-graduation paths that they offer, are central building blocks to ensuring high-quality construction in our state.

Mike Salsgiver is the executive director of Associated General Contractors’ Oregon-Columbia chapter. Contact him at 503-685-8305 or

This article originally appeared in the Daily Journal of Commerce and can be found here (subscription required).

Construction Jobs Jump 58,000 in February

AGCA_bugConstruction employment increased by 58,000 jobs in February to the highest level since November 2008 with gains in both residential and nonresidential segments, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. The association urged public officials to strengthen training and education programs to help students and current workers better prepare for careers in the high-paying construction field.

“These numbers match what many contractors have been telling the association—that demand remains strong for a variety of construction projects and that firms are still hiring, when they can find qualified workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The increase from January to February was the largest one-month gain since 2007, which probably reflected the exceptionally mild weather conditions in much of the nation in February. However, the year-over-year growth was similar to the industry’s employment growth rates since last spring, showing that the job gains in February were not solely weather-related.”

Construction employment totaled 6,881,000 in February, an increase of 58,000 from the upwardly revised January total and an increase of 219,000 or 3.3 percent from a year ago. The year-over-year growth rate was almost double the 1.8 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment, Simonson noted. Furthermore, average hourly earnings in construction amounted to $28.48 or 9.2 percent more than the average for the overall private sector, he said.

Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—added 18,900 jobs in February and 136,200, or 5.3 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) employment increased by 38,500 employees in February and 82,600 employees, or 2.0 percent, over 12 months.

Association officials noted that continuing growth in construction depends on having an adequate supply of new workers to replace those who retire or leave the industry for other reasons. The association urged lawmakers and government officials to expand and fund employment and training programs to equip students and workers with the skills needed to become productive construction employees.

“Average pay in construction is 9 percent higher than in the private sector as a whole, and opportunities for advancement are plentiful,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But we need educators and government officials at all levels to revitalize and better fund programs to prepare the next generation of construction craft workers and make students aware of the career opportunities.”


2017 TopProjects Finalists Announced by DJC

2017 TopProjects Finalists Announced by DJC

The Daily Journal of Commerce has named more than 90 finalists for the 2017 TopProjects awards competition recognizing the most outstanding projects completed last year in Oregon and Washington.

Since its creation more than two decades ago, TopProjects has become an industry tradition as a way to measure excellence in the region’s built environment. In order to qualify for this year’s competition, projects were required to be substantially completed by Dec. 31, 2016.

The finalists now move to the competition’s judging phase. Projects in several categories – including public buildings, private buildings, infrastructure, transportation and renovation – will be evaluated by a panel of professionals from the local building industry.

Judges will determine the individual top-scoring winner in each competition category. The project earning the highest number of points among all of the finalists will be named the 2017 Project of the Year.

Winning projects will be announced during the 2017 TopProjects event, which will take place May 18 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center. Early-bird tickets are $85. The price will increase to $95 after May 2. Registration is available here.

Oregon Energy Trust and Saif are platinum sponsors for this year’s TopProjects. The Finest in the Finishing Trades is the platinum awards sponsor. Gold sponsors are J.E. McAmis and Swinerton. LCD is the happy hour sponsor, and Spirit Media is the media sponsor.

2017 TopProjects Finalists

The following Oregon-Columbia Chapter members are finalists in the TopProjects competition:

  • 85 Stories – phase 1; submitted by Walsh Construction Co.
  • 811 Stark and Uncorked tenant improvement; submitted by Yorke & Curtis Inc.
  • A to Z Wineworks; submitted by Walsh Construction Co.
  • Colorado Lift Station; submitted by Slayden Constructors Inc.
  • Deschutes Brewery warehouse and tank expansion cellar 4; submitted by R&H Construction
  • Fourth Plain bus rapid transit corridor; submitted by Tapani Inc.
  • George Fox University Canyon Commons; submitted by Andersen Construction
  • Happy Valley Crossroads; submitted by Moore Excavation Inc.
  • Howard Elementary School replacement; submitted by Todd Construction Inc.
  • Industrial Park at TransAlta; submitted by Tapani Inc.
  • Infomart Portland expansion; submitted by DPR Construction, Infomart and McKinstry Co. LLC
  • Kane Drive washout emergency response and roadway restoration; submitted by Moore Excavation Inc.
  • North Holladay Drive – First Avenue to 12th Avenue; submitted by Tapani Inc.
  • Northeast 94th Avenue – Northeast Padden Parkway to Northeast 99th Avenue; submitted by Tapani Inc.
  • NV Portland; submitted by Andersen Construction
  • OMSI Coastal Discovery Center; submitted by Walsh Construction Co.
  • Open School East; submitted by P&C Construction
  • Oregon City Public Library; submitted by P&C Construction and Scott | Edwards Architecture
  • Oregon City School District transportation and maintenance facility; submitted by P&C Construction
  • Oregon State University Cascades Living & Learning Center; submitted by Walsh Construction Co.
  • Oregon Zoo Conservation Education Center; submitted by Fortis Construction Inc.
  • Overland Warehouse; submitted by Emerick Architects
  • Overton/SWIFT; submitted by Yorke & Curtis Inc.
  • Pearl West office building; submitted by Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Company
  • Pete Moore Hospice House (Cascade Health); submitted by Chambers Construction Co.
  • PGE Portland service center; submitted by Fortis Construction Inc.
  • Porsche Beaverton; submitted by Perlo Construction
  • Rose Villa Senior Living; submitted by R&H Construction
  • Sellwood Bridge Replacement Project; submitted by Slayden Sundt Joint Venture
  • Serenity Lane; submitted by Chambers Construction Co.
  • Slate; submitted by Works Progress Architecture and Yorke & Curtis
  • Stoel Rives – Park Avenue West; submitted by Lease Crutcher Lewis and ZGF Architects LLP
  • Subaru of America at Gresham Vista; submitted by Perlo Construction
  • Sunrise Corridor; submitted by Kerr Contractors Oregon Inc.
  • The Bronaugh Apartments; submitted by Walsh Construction Co.
  • Touchmark; submitted by Perlo Construction
  • Toyota of Corvallis; submitted by R&H Construction Co.
  • U.S. 101 Sea Lion Point rock wall project; submitted by HP Civil Inc.
  • University of Oregon Allan Price Science Commons & Research Library renovation; submitted by Andersen Construction
  • University of Oregon Erb Memorial Union renovation; submitted by Lease Crutcher Lewis
  • University of Oregon Jane Sanders Stadium; submitted by Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Company
  • Vancouver Waterfront transportation improvements; submitted by PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc.
  • Wacom tenant improvement; submitted by Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Company
  • Wilsonville Subaru; submitted by LCD and LRS Architects
  • Winter Street: Shelton Ditch Bridge; submitted by HP Civil Inc.
  • Yard; submitted by Andersen Construction

Vote in the DJC Reader Rankings

Nominate your favorite firms, things and places for the first-ever DJC Reader Rankings—an awards program voted on by your peers

DJC_2014_color 151x41Later this year, the Daily Journal of Commerce will launch the first DJC Reader Rankings, which will ask readers to vote on their favorite firms, software, venues, suppliers, services, and mediums. The votes will then be tallied, and the DJC will announce the top three winners in each category. Before we get there, though, they need your help nominating the firms that should be included.

Please go through this list of questions and name your top three in each category. Don’t know three? Just fill out the items and firms that you want to be included. Survey category groups include:

  • Firms
  • Service Providers
  • Equipment/Supplies
  • Software
  • Event/Food/Drink
  • Media/Marketing/Public Relations

Don’t see a category that should be included? Or, do you see one that should be edited for clarity? We will ask you for your input at the end of the survey.

Please note, this is not the final survey. This is just to get the process started. The DJC will open voting for one month later this year to determine the actual winners.

Take the survey

OROSHA Proposed Changes to Walking-Working Surfaces and PPE

Oregon OSHA – Proposed Changes to Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) in General Industry

OSHA Logo blog

This rulemaking is to keep Oregon OSHA in harmony with recent changes to Federal OSHA’s standards.

On November 18, 2016, federal OSHA published in the Federal Register their final rule titled: “Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems)”. This general industry final rule revised the previous walking-working surfaces standards within 29 CFR part 1910, subpart D and created a new standard and two new non-mandatory appendixes for fall protection systems within 29 CFR part 1910, subpart I. In addition to the significant changes made to Subparts D and I, federal OSHA also amended standards in 29 CFR part 1910, subparts F, N, and R to create uniformity across all of the affected subparts where walking-working surfaces and personal fall protection systems are addressed. The final rule increases consistency between federal OSHA’s general industry and construction standards, which will make compliance easier for employers who conduct operations in both industry sectors. Federal OSHA has also reorganized the requirements and incorporated plain language in order to make the final rule easier to understand and follow. The final rule uses performance-based language whenever possible to give employers greater compliance flexibility. The revised standards on walking-working surfaces are intended to prevent and reduce workplace slips, trips, and falls, as well as other injuries and fatalities associated with walking-working surface hazards. The final federal OSHA rule adds requirements on the design, performance, and use of personal fall protection systems.  It also revises and creates new provisions addressing, for example, fixed ladders; rope descent systems; fall protection systems and criteria, including personal fall protection systems; and training on fall hazards and fall protection systems.

Oregon OSHA is proposing to adopt the federal OSHA final rules as published in the Federal Register with a few exceptions. These exceptions are addressed through new Oregon initiated rules which are at least equally as effective as the original federal language. Furthermore, several existing Oregon initiated rules were either removed or modified to remove any duplication with the new federal regulations.

In order to harmonize Oregon OSHA’s existing Division 2 regulations with the new federal rule, Oregon OSHA made significant revisions to subdivision 2/D (Walking-Working Surfaces) and Subdivision 2/I (Personal Protective Equipment) of Chapter 437, Division 2. Subsequently, since many existing Oregon OSHA regulations are based on those within 2/D and 2/I, the following Division 2 subdivisions also must be amended: 2/A, 2/F, 2/L, 2/N, 2/R, and 2/RR.

Adoption tentatively will be in May 2017. Comment period closes April 20, 2017. Public Hearings are in multiple parts of Oregon. For the hearing schedule and more info click here

Young Employees: Tell Us About Workplace Safety

Are you a worker in Oregon 18–25 years old?

If so, the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition wants to hear from you! Take this short 16 question survey by March 31 for a chance to win one of four $25 Amazon gift cards! Your input will help O[yes] learn more about your job and workplace safety training to improve the safety and health of young adult workers in Oregon.

Oregon Young Employee Safety

Oregon Young Employee Safety