In The Know

Unemployment in the construction industry climbed to 22.7 percent in December as another 80,000 workers lost jobs in December, according to the latest federal figures.

More than 2 million construction workers are unemployed, with about 934,000 losing jobs during 2009, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. The unemployment rate for construction workers was 9.0 percent one year earlier.

“If it wasn’t for construction, our economic picture would actually be getting slightly better,” said AGCA chief economist Ken Simonson. “Unfortunately, construction layoffs are dragging down the broader employment picture.”

California suffered the largest decline in construction jobs of any state over the past 12 months, a staggering 118,200 jobs.

El Centro lost a larger percentage of its construction work force (36 percent) from November 2008 to November 2009 than any other metropolitan area in the nation, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.

The issue is not a regional problem. AGCA figures show construction employment declined in 324 out of 337 metropolitan areas over the past year.

“Private nonresidential construction is in freefall,” said Simonson. “Those cuts are causing layoffs in virtually every part of the country for tens of thousands of skilled construction workers.”

Federal figures released last month show that construction spending declined by $137 billion between November 2008 and 2009 to a six-year low of $900 billion, Simonson said.

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KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture and Planning, has completed work on three single-family homes for Habitat for Humanity in Yorba Linda.

One home has been turned over to the family who helped build the home and will purchase it under the regular Habitat model. Two homes will be sold to moderate-income families who will secure their own financing under Habitat for Humanity of Orange County's new "Mixed-Income Model."

KTGY donated its architectural services as well as assisted in the construction of these craftsman-style homes.

Earlier in the year, KTGY was awarded Habitat for Humanity's 2009 Dream Builder Award at the organization's Fifth Annual "Doorways to the Future" gala awards dinner and auction.

KTGY has been committed to working with Habitat for Humanity throughout northern and southern California. Recently, KTGY was called upon to develop the next series of homes for Habitat for Humanity in northern California, which will be going after LEED Platinum status. Last year, KTGY designed and assisted with the building of Habitat for Humanity of four homes in Anaheim.

"These three homes in Yorba Linda carry on the beautiful, historic precedent of this great neighborhood with sitting porches, two-car garages turned to the rear and accessed from a private drive, and a material palette that is reminiscent of the era with shingles and clapboard siding," said project designer Jill Williams.

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WoodWorks California, an educational initiative of the Wood Products Council, will host a free Wood Solutions Fair in San Francisco on Jan. 21 at the South San Francisco Convention Center.

The fair will bring together architects, engineers, developers, builders and others for an educational event focused on advances in non-residential wood design and construction.

Sessions will include one on the shake table testing of a 6-story condominium in Japan – the largest shake table test in the world – and another on the construction of the tallest mixed-use wood building.

Information on the fair is available at woodworks.org.

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Whirlpool Corporation has become the exclusive supplier of energy- and water-efficient appliances to Beazer Homes.

Beazer has ongoing operations in 16 states, including several communities in California.

As part of the agreement, Beazer will now include in all of its homes Energy Star qualified Whirlpool brand dishwashers that use 10 percent to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models.

“Partnering with Whirlpool gives us the tools to provide homebuyers with high-quality homes that feature appliances to complement their individual lifestyles,” said Tony L. Callahan, Beazer’s senior vice president of national purchasing, planning and design.

“This partnership leverages technologies and resources from both companies and shows Beazer Homes’ commitment to offering its homebuyers sustainable solutions for conserving water and energy through everyday home appliances,” said Kelly Safis, national director of contract sales at Whirlpool Corporation. “We look forward to a long, successful working relationship with Beazer Homes.”

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The Green California Summit will be held March 15-17 at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Three days of programs and workshops will focus on policy innovations, technologies, strategies and best practices that are keeping California on the cutting edge of the green revolution.

For more information, visit the summit website.

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In the Know is compiled by California Builder editor Greg Robertson. News about companies in the homebuilding industry can be sent to him at grobertson@cbia.org.