Industry Unemployment Rate Falls for a Third Year in a Row

Construction's unemployment rate fell in May to 10.8%, the third consecutive annual decline for the May data. As the industry added a net 7,000 jobs last month, it was also the lowest monthly rate recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since October 2008.

BLS says construction-job gains came in nearly all industry segments, paced by the residential specialty-trade-contractor sector, which added 4,600 jobs. The heavy-civil engineering-construction sector picked up 3,100 jobs. "Healthy job performance in this segment is considered a leading indicator for a number of other construction segments," says Anirban Basu, chief economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors. The exception to the upward trends was non-residential building, which lost 2,600 jobs in May. The BLS unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Gulf Oil-Spill Cleanup Completes 'Active' Work in Three States

After three years of working to remediate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Coast Guard said on June 10 that it has completed its active cleanup operations in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. U.S. officials said the monitoring of the response will transition back to the National Response Center by mid-June. According to a statement from BP, the responses and cleanup effort cost the oil giant more than $14 billion. BP says operational activity has ended on 4,272 out of the 4,376 shoreline miles in the response area.

Home Depot Spinoff Firm Plans $1.2-Billion IPO

Construction mega-distributor HD Supply Holdings Inc. plans to raise around $1.2 billion in an initial public offering filed earlier this month. The Atlanta-based former unit of Home Depot, which operates 600 locations in the U.S. and Canada, expects to sell 53.1 million shares priced at between $22 and $25 per share. At the midpoint of the IPO price, the company would be valued at $4.3 billion, not including $6.6 billion in long-term debt.

Private-equity firms Carlyle, Bain Capital and others bought the company in 2007 for $8.5 billion at the height of the homebuilding bubble. As the housing market recovered, in its 2012 fiscal year ending in February, HD Supply generated $8 billion in net sales, a 14.3% increase, but it booked a net loss of $1.2 billion, a 117% increase, over the prior year.

DOE Launches New Database To Improve Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Dept. of Energy has launched its Buildings Performance Database. The tool includes residential and commercial building energy-performance information, allowing users to access real data and perform statistical analyses on more than 60,0000 buildings in the U.S. The database contains a building's location, age, size, function, electricity and fuel consumption, equipment information and operational characteristics. It can be used to compare performance trends among similar buildings, identify and prioritize cost-saving energy-efficiency improvements and assess the range of savings.

Elevator Worker Killed After Being Struck by Counterweight

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the death last week of an elevator mechanic at the $1.3-billion Levi's Stadium, being built for the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara County. Donald White, 63, had been working on a ladder at the bottom of an elevator shaft early on June 11, when he was struck by an elevator counterweight and killed. White had been employed as an elevator mechanic for the past several years by Schindler Elevator Corp., Morristown, N.J., according to a statement by the stadium-project subcontractor. Turner-Devcon—the joint-venture contractor, which had suspended construction activity in the aftermath of the accident—resumed work on June 13.

TVA Cuts Back Alabama Job After Reviewing Market Shifts

The Tennessee Valley Authority is further reducing funding and staff on construction of its Bellefonte-1 nuclear unit, limiting work on the Alabama project site to maintenance activities, the utility said on June 12. The site's operations-and-management budget will shrink to $66 million from $182 million in fiscal year 2014, which begins on Oct. 1, TVA said. Total on-site staff and contract workers will drop to 140 from 540 over several months. Mike Skaggs, TVA senior vice president for nuclear construction, said the utility is reviewing Bellefonte-1's cost, schedule and future needs based on changes in fuel prices and lower demand. That decision also is affected by delays in work at TVA's Watts Bar 2 unit in Tennessee. Last year, TVA announced a reduction of contract workers at Bellefonte-1 from 900 to 430 by mid-May.