Toolbox Tuesday: Inequality rising

Why are middle class construction jobs so important to the economy? This graphic maps wealth and income distribution from 1962 to 2010. The picture it paints is stark. During this time period, the richest have become richer and the poorest have become poorer.

Worth noting:

  • The richest 20 percent claim 46 percent of American income in 1962, and almost 60 percent of income in 2010.  Their share of non-home wealth (not including home equity) went from 86.1 percent to 95.4 percent over the same span.
  • After widening in the 1970s, the inequality of net worth (the red line is the gini coefficient measure of inequality) was pretty flat through 2007, but spike sharply between 2007 and 2010.
Construction is one of the few remaining US industries that provide pathways to middle class careers. Still, it is an industry with two faces. It contains workers from all walks of life and can can exploit workers in dangerous and temporary dead-end jobs, or it can provide high quality, lifelong career opportunities. Given the trends of growing income inequality, will these middle class careers last?

Graphic by Colin Gordon, The Telltale Chart and Iowa Policy Project

Every Tuesday the Construction Academy posts a graphic, chart or other resource to demystify the construction industry. To receive updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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Housing Market Boon?

Huffington Post Live, November 28, 2012

Partnerships Director Uyen Le appeared on Huffington Post Live to discuss new housing market numbers. Watch the show.

ABOUT:

Numbers out today show that the U.S. housing market grew less in October than thought. But economists are talking about another housing market boon. What’s going on?

Hosted by: Alyona Minkovski

GUESTS:

  • Jed Kolko (San Francisco, CA) Chief Economist and Head of Analytics at Trulia @jedkolko
  • Anthony Randazzo (New York, NY) Director Of Economic Research, Reason Foundation @anthonyrandazzo
  • Courtney Poulos (Los Angeles, CA) Real Estate Broker
  • Uyen Le (Los Angeles, CA) Partnerships Director of the California Construction Academy at UCLA @goodjobscca

Watch the full archived segment.

Toolbox Tuesday: U.S. Housing Starts Rise

Last week several sources released reports about the increase in housing market numbers. Housing is one of the first signs that the construction market overall is coming back, and with that the expectation is that commercial, industrial and other sectors will also grow.

According to the US Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, October 2012 saw 894,000 construction starts. This is 41.9% higher than October of last year.

Read more on the new housing market construction numbers:

Will this boost the economy?  A big part of the answer to this question is the quality of jobs that return with this boost in economic activity. Are these low-skill, short-term, and temporary jobs, or are they long-term careers? The construction industry is cyclical, with extreme booms and busts. To make sure the next downcycle does not look like the last, it’s important to learn from the mistakes of the past economic downturn and build the industry back stronger.

See Huffington Post Live Interview with Uyen Le, Partnerships Director of the California Construction Academy.

Graphic by the California Construction Academy

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Toolbox Tuesday: A Greener Future for Business

McGraw Hill just released a study showing that green building is accelerating globally despite the economic downturn.

Top findings from the study include:

  • Green building has become a long-term business opportunity with 51% percent of study firms planning more than 60 % of their work to be green by 2015, up from 28 percent of firms in 2012
  • The largest opportunity areas for green building globally are in new commercial construction and renovation of existing buildings

Why are firms taking on more green construction work?

  • Overwhelmingly, firms report that their top reasons to do green work are client demand (35 percent) and market demand (33 percent)—two key business drivers of strategic planning.
  • The next top reasons were also oriented toward the corporate bottom line—lower operating costs (30 percent) and branding advantage (30 percent).
These findings show that the market around energy efficient construction is shifting. Rather than contractors increasing these projects because of personal motivations, market demand for green work is on the rise.  Construction is increasingly going green because it is the right move for business.

Read more about the study.

Find out how to take advantage of this surge in green. Download Beyond Green Jobs.

Graphic by the California Construction Academy
Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building Trades Council

Every Tuesday the Construction Academy posts a graphic, chart or other resource to demystify the construction industry. To receive updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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7 Things to Be Thankful For at Work

With Thanksgiving on Thursday, here are some reasons to be thankful at work. It may sometimes be easy to take these workplace rights for granted, but they are the result of years of work by community and labor leaders.

Let’s give thanks for the right to:

  1. The weekend!
    Overtime pay and the 40-hour work week, from the National Labor Relations Act (1938).
  2. Minimum wage
    National Labor Relations Act (1938).
  3. A work-free childhood
    National Labor Relations Act (1938).
  4. Rest and meal breaks
    National Labor Relations Act (1938).
  5. Maternity leave
    Family and Medical Leave Act (1993).
  6. A safe workplace
    Occupational Health and Safety Act (1970).
  7. Stand up for these rights without being fired
    National Labor Relations Act (1938).

There’s definitely much more to do to ensure that all people have access to high quality jobs. Let the fight continue!

Graphic courtesy of the California Construction Academy and the UCLA Labor Center. Photo courtesy of Dawn Jones, Oregon Tradeswomen.

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Voters Strike Down Charter City Initiatives, Yet More Loom On the Horizon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 19, 2012

Contact: Stefanie Ritoper, sritoper@ucla.edu, 213-375-4841

California –On November 6, voters in Costa Mesa, Escondido, and Grover Beach decided on ballot measures to convert their cities from general law cities to charter cities. This is part of conservative campaign to change the governance of California cities. The group hopes to bypass state construction wage law (“prevailing wages”) and downgrade worker wages by converting cities to charter cities.

Voters in Costa Mesa and Escondido voted down charter city measures. In Costa Mesa residents voted down Charter Measure V by 59.9% and in Escondido residents rejected Prop P by 52.71%. In the small city of Grover Beach (13,000 residents), the I-12 charter city measure is too close to call, with just a handful of votes left to count. See voter results in Costa Mesa, Escondido, and Grover Beach.

Supporters of city charters suggest that eliminating prevailing wages would save taxpayer money. However, those who oppose this legislation argue that labor costs typically make up just 25% or less of project costs, and reducing wages provides marginal savings at the expense of workers. Eliminating state wage laws also removes oversight of public works projects, setting a poor precedent for attacks on other state laws. For more on the issue, read Daniel Villao’s Huffington Post piece.

Daniel Villao, Director of the California Construction Academy, a project of the UCLA Labor Center, issued this statement:

“The election results were overall a victory for working families, as voters in Costa Mesa and Escondido decided that budget savings should not come at the expense of middle class jobs. In a difficult economy, where families are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing you want is to cut their ability to contribute to the local economy. Yet, California needs to be alert to more initiatives like these—more are already on the horizon.”

Toolbox Tuesday: Prop 39 Passes!

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Prop 39 Means More Green Construction

Last week, California voters decided overwhelmingly (60.3%) to pass Proposition 39. This proposition closes a California tax loophole that gave a break to corporations that have their operations in multiple states. In doing so, it raises $1 billion a year, half of which will go to renovate buildings and make them save more energy. Read more about Prop 39.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that this can create nearly 40,000 jobs throughout the state. This means more construction jobs and growth for California’s clean energy economy.

How did your county vote?

Check out the interactive map of election results! Maps for other propositions are also up.

Map by: California Secretary of State

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Eliminating Middle Class Jobs in the Shadow of the Election

Daniel Villao, Huffington Post, November 5, 2012

Huffington Post featured Daniel Villao, Statewide Director of the California Construction Academy.  Under the cover of the presidential and state ballot races, a construction lobby group is quietly working to change the governance of California cities — just to pay workers unfairly. On Tuesday’s ballot, in addition to voting on larger, more familiar statewide initiatives, smaller cities such as Costa Mesa, Escondido and Grover Beach will also decide whether to become charter cities. This is one step in a campaign with the conservative construction lobby group Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) at the helm, to convert California cities to charter cities. This small step could have wide reaching consequences, with middle class families in the balance.

Read “Eliminating Middle Class Jobs in the Shadow of the Election” on the Huffington Post.

Toolbox Tuesday: What’s driving California’s clean energy economy?

Every Tuesday the Construction Academy posts a graphic, chart or other resource to demystify the construction industry.  To receive updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

What’s driving California’s clean energy economy?

This year was the first election in over 20 years that neither of the presidential candidates mentioned climate change in the debate. So what is happening in California’s clean energy and energy efficiency economy anyway?

This new report from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) gives some numbers and great charts about current trends in energy efficiency. The chart above shows manufacturing and installation jobs leading the seven growth sectors of California’s clean and efficient economy. These are important sectors for construction jobs.

Check out Invest to Grow, the new report by Environmental Defense Fund.

Chart by: Environmental Defense Fund.

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Three Generations: From the Fields to Construction to UCLA

MIT’s CoLab Radio blog featured Paul Garcia, who talks about the three generations of his family, from the fields to construction to UCLA. Paul’s father is a laborer with Laborers Union Local 652.

“It’s been a generational struggle, from backbreaking work in the agricultural fields my grandfather endured to my father’s hard work in construction,” Paul says. “I am proud of where I come from, and this is what I felt when I received my diploma this year. I owe all the opportunities available to me to my family’s sacrifice and hard work.”

Read the story on CoLab Radio.

Update: Several other outlets also picked up this story! Read Paul’s story on the AFL-CIO Blog, California Labor Federation’s Labor’s Edge blog, and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s Construction Careers site.