Unemployment Still Shrinking

The construction industry's jobless rate continues to decline, dipping to 8.6% in May from April's 9.4%, as the industry added 6,000 jobs. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest employment report, released on June 6, also showed that construction's jobless rate last month improved from its May 2013 level of 10.8%. Moreover, last month's rate was the best May since 2008, when it also was 8.6%. The industry's jobs results were mixed among its various sectors. The strongest segments were heavy-civil engineering construction and residential specialty-trade contractors, which each picked up 3,200 positions. The weakest were non-residential buildings and non-residential specialty trades, which shed a modest 500 jobs, combined.

Atlanta Starts New Stadium

Less than three weeks after the Atlanta Braves first accepted construction- manager proposals, Cobb County, Ga., commissioners on May 27 approved the team's selection of a Brasfield & Gorrie-led joint venture to lead construction of an estimated $672-million ballpark. The construction team also includes Mortenson Construction, Barton Malow Co. and New South Construction. Populous is the architect. According to Cobb County, sitework is set to begin in August. The ballpark is scheduled for completion before the 2017 baseball season. The county will provide $300 million toward the ballpark's construction, and the Braves will chip in $372 million.

President Obama Signs New $12-Billion Water-Resource Law

The long-awaited $12.3-billion Water Resources Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA, has been signed into law, the first such measure to go on the books in more than six years. WRRDA, which President Obama signed on June 10, authorizes federal funding installments for 34 new Army Corps of Engineers' flood control, dredging and environmental restoration projects. It also includes $375 million to launch the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program. Further, WRRDA calls for increased spending for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for dredging work.

Federal Court Finds FERC Rule On Pipeline Project 'Deficient'

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's environmental review of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.'s Northeast upgrade project was "deficient" because FERC did not consider all interconnected segments to the project. The court ordered FERC to perform more analysis on the northeastern leg of the pipeline. In a June 6 opinion, a three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said FERC had "impermissibly segmented the environmental review in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act." The panel also found FERC had failed to include significant analysis of the cumulative impacts of the upgrade projects. Several environmental groups had challenged the FERC determination, including the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the New Jersey Sierra Club. They praised the ruling, saying it clarifies that segmenting pipeline projects undergoing a FERC review is impermissible.