Construction activity is one of the major drivers of architectural coatings demand, and U.S. statistical agencies track several indicators of the health of the construction sector. Construction employment is a good proxy for “real” construction activity, since the metric of total employment numbers is not itself subject to inflation (although cost of employment is), with the result being that changes in employment more accurately reflect what is being done at construction sites than do metrics involving the nominal amount spent.
Like most indicators in the construction sector, the past decade is marked by a substantial decline as the housing boom ended in 2007 or so, with total sector employment dropping over 40 percent from the start of 2007 through the start of 2011, while overall construction spending fell over one third during that same time (Figure 1). However, since the 2011 trough, both spending and employment have recovered steadily, although total construction employment is still slightly below peak. Employment among specialty trade contractors, a category which includes painting contractors, shows a similar recovery.
Wages in construction trades have risen steadily, but at a moderate pace. As shown in Figure 2, wages for non-supervisory construction personnel have risen from less than $21.50 at the beginning of 2008 to over $28.00 now. Construction workers have maintained a wage premium over all non-supervisory workers in general of approximately 20 percent during this period. Figure 2 also shows that while specialty trade workers have historically been paid almost identical wages to all construction workers, a small gap in compensation has emerged in the past two years, with construction employees now reporting wages slightly higher than 2 percent above specialty trade workers.
Of course, national averages can mask wide disparities in local construction markets. Construction wages paid in various markets are greatly impacted by local labor supply (particularly in skilled crafts), local wage expectations, the amount of influence of organized labor, etc. Three large states illustrate these disparities. Texas and Arizona, which are fast-growing, “right-to-work” states with significant new construction activity, have significantly different labor market conditions than does Illinois, which has a generally higher cost of living and greater labor union influence, and as a result, Illinois builders must pay above average construction wages.
As shown in Figure 3, Illinois construction wages are significantly higher than the national average, while Texas, after strong wage growth in the past year or so, is close to the average. Arizona hourly construction wages remain more than $3.00 below the national averages. Of course, in large cities, wages can be even higher than the state or national averages. In New York, N.Y., known for its high wages, construction workers, such as specialty contractors, can make upwards of twice the reported national averages, not even accounting for local variations in indirect costs resulting from more restrictive work rules, etc. This illustrates that local labor conditions – which are obviously the most relevant to a specific project – are often masked by reporting of national averages.
Contact ACA’s Allen Irish for more information.
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PaintCare was awarded the 2018 Environmental Sustainability Leadership Award during the Northeast Recycling Council’s (NERC) annual conference on Oct. 30. For the second year in a row, NERC has bestowed the award upon an individual or organization that has made an impact on sustainable materials management within NERC’s 11-state region in the Northeastern United States.
PaintCare’s four New England state programs were considered jointly for the award: Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In these states, PaintCare has set up more than 360 year-round locations where households and businesses can drop off leftover latex and oil-based house paint for recycling—providing locations within 15 miles of more than 95 percent of households in each state.
Most PaintCare drop-off locations are paint and hardware stores that accept leftover house paint, stain, or varnish (i.e., architectural coatings) for recycling during regular business hours. Other drop-off locations include household hazardous waste facilities (HHWs), solid waste transfer stations, and “reuse” stores. For municipal HHW and solid waste partners, PaintCare covers that cost of transporting and processing leftover paint, saving the municipalities resources.
“We are honored to receive this award recognizing the hard work of our state managers, Laura Honis and John Hurd, and the commitment of our hundreds of retail partners across New England,” said Marjaneh Zarrehparvar, Executive Director of PaintCare. “We also thank our partners in each state’s oversight agencies, whose visionary leadership has enabled the local PaintCare programs to grow and thrive.”
Since the start of each state’s program, PaintCare has processed more than 1.2 million gallons of paint in Connecticut, 272,000 gallons in Maine, 305,000 gallons in Rhode Island, and 438,000 gallons in Vermont. Most latex paint is recycled back into paint, while oil-based paint is utilized for energy recovery, and some paint is redistributed to the public for “reuse.”
PaintCare’s recycling programs demonstrate that leftover paint can be effectively diverted from landfills or improper disposal and properly managed in accordance with the hierarchy of “highest best use.”
Through the American Coatings Association, paint manufacturers created PaintCare Inc., a non-profit stewardship organization, to run recycling programs in states and jurisdictions as they pass paint stewardship laws. PaintCare sets up drop-off locations for unused paint, arranges for recycling and proper disposal of the paint, and conducts outreach about proper paint management. PaintCare currently runs paint recycling programs in California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. For more information about PaintCare, visit www.paintcare.org.
About the Northeast Recycling Council
NERC is a multi-state non-profit organization that is committed to environmental and economic sustainability through responsible solid waste management. NERC conducts projects that influence policy and affect change through research, technical assistance, demonstration projects, and education across 11 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Contact PaintCare’s Brett Rodgers for more information.
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