Editor’s note: Made in America is a roundup of manufacturing-related news.
LITTLE ROCK’S BROADWAY BRIDGE TO OPEN 30 DAYS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
The new U.S. Highway 70 Broadway Bridge crossing the Arkansas River is anticipated to open sometime this week and plans are in the works for a ceremonial first crossing of the new structure, according to Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) officials. The project contractor Massman Construction Co. has alerted AHTD that it anticipates opening the bridge to traffic at a time yet to be determined this week. Work on the structure has progressed so well throughout the unseasonably warm winter months that the opening will occur almost a full month ahead of the 180-day schedule Massman included in its $98.4 million bid to replace the river crossing, officials said. Although an exact time of the opening is unknown at this time, the AHTD has scheduled a ceremonial first crossing media event that will take place on Monday, Feb. 27 at 3:30 p.m.
CONSTRUCTION STARTS JUMP 12% IN JANUARY, DIAMOND PIPELINE PROJECT AMONG BIG U.S. PROJECTS
The value of new construction starts climbed 12% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $690.2 billion in January after losing momentum during last year’s fourth quarter, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Nonresidential building strengthened in January with much of the lift coming from the start of the $3.4 billion Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport in New York NY as well as groundbreaking for several other large airport terminal projects. Nonbuilding construction bounced back from a subdued December, with the boost arising from a $750 million natural gas-fired power plant in Florida plus two pipeline projects – the $900 million Plains Diamond oil pipeline in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and the $767 million Presidio Crossing natural gas pipeline in Texas.
U.S. LABOR PRODUCTIVITY SLOWS AFTER GREAT RECESSION COMPARED TO OTHER PERIODS
Although the economy has been expanding since the Great Recession ended, productivity growth has been relatively slow compared with other periods since 1947. From the fourth quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2016, labor productivity grew at an average annual rate of 1.1%, which is considerably lower than the average growth rate from 1947 to 2007 (2.3%) or the average rate from 2001 to 2007 (2.7%), according to new data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Through most of the Great Recession, from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2009, labor productivity growth lagged behind historical growth rates. During that period, the U.S. economy experienced its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s with nonfarm business output declining by $753 billion and some 8.1 million jobs lost. However, coming out of the recession and into the early quarters of the current expansion, productivity growth reached above-average gains.