Like the temporary good news from retailers on sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, construction employment in California is doing better than many have forecasted.

Over the past year (October 2010 to October 2011), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics with an AGC analysis, California added the second largest number of construction jobs in the U.S. (after Texas): 17,100, or a 3.1% gain. From August to October, construction jobs in the state were up 1.5% or 8,500. Percentagewise, not great, but better than the negative numbers we’re used to seeing. (Click here for another positive overall economic outlook via The Economist.)

And I recently saw some more potentially good news via the San Jose Mercury News regarding employment possibilities in 2012: On Dec. 8, the Valley Transportation Authority is expected to approve a $772-million contract for the construction of the 10-mi BART extension to San Jose (Warm Springs to Berryessa). Next up is a February decision from the Federal Transit Administration on how much additional federal funding the VTA/BART project will get. The whole project will cost $2.3 billion, with additional funding also coming from a county sales tax. (Eventually, BART is planning to extend to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara for another $4 billion.)

The expected winning bid is from the Skanska/Shimmick/Herzog design-build joint venture, which came in $77 million under the estimated $849 million cost.

Anyway, if the project does break ground in the spring or summer (and if Congress acts like grown-ups), it means “thousands of jobs,” according to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. These big transportation projects are getting few and far between in California, what with the federal stimulus funds already committed or spent and austerity fever gripping Washington.

Speaking of thousands of jobs, the Los Angeles Times tells a tale of infrastructure madness: Los Angeles has a $1.6 billion sidewalk repair backlog and of the city’s 10,750 mi of mostly concrete paths, more than 42% are in disrepair. If the city remains on its current pace, the fixes could be completed in nearly 70 years. Residents are banding together to fix the sidewalks themselves, but don’t you think some public or private (or both) funding could be found for an ongoing contracting opportunity here?