Things are finally looking up for sections of Wisconsin, which made headlines last month for having shed 10,000 construction jobs – or 11% of its industry work force – in the past year, second only to Alaska in the percentage of job losses in the sector.

Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, a Milwaukee-based trade group that represents construction equipment companies, said the declines were due to Wisconsin's shorter construction season. (Tell that to North Dakota, where construction is booming. Alaska, on the other hand, I'll buy.)

Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America, indicated the data reflected how fragile and fragmented the recovery of U.S. construction is.

"Although private sector demand for structures has risen in most states, improvement in single-family home building is spotty, and public investment is shrinking," Simonson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Whatever the reason, cranes soon may be moving again in Milwaukee and thereabouts.

Having successfully completed – or nearly completed – The Moderne, a 30-story, luxury residential high-rise in downtown Milwaukee,local developer Rick Barrett has proposed constructing another high-end project, a 44-story hotel and apartment building called The Couture, to be sited near the lakefront.

Other planned projects cited by Milwaukee Business News include a large office building that Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. plans to construct at either its downtown or Franklin, Wis., campus; an 18-story, 350,000-square-foot office building Wauwatosa-based Irgens plans to locate downtown; and The Corners, a new upscale retail center Marcus Corp. plans to build in suburban Brookfield.

Additionally, Kohl's Corp. plans to build a 900,000-square-foot new corporate campus in Menomonee Falls.

Here's hoping there's more to come. For area builders, the work can't come soon enough, whatever the season.