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Weekly Briefing: March 4-8, 2024

Week of March 4, 2024

Congress Nears Approval of Major Spending Bill With Emphasis on Infrastructure and Job Creation

  • After four stopgap spending bills, Congress is making significant strides towards approving a comprehensive spending bill, which includes construction and improvement of federal buildings and courthouses. The measure is also set to allocate funds for various critical infrastructure sectors.

  • The spending measure designates $20.9 billion for the Department of Transportation, earmarked for airports, highways, and transit projects. Furthermore, it increases the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers to $8.7 billion for infrastructure resiliency projects, emphasizing a multifaceted approach to addressing diverse infrastructure needs.

  • The legislation is enjoying bipartisan support, with lawmakers actively engaging in negotiations to finalize details. A key point of consensus is the commitment to improving infrastructure resilience against natural disasters, exemplifying bipartisan cooperation to address urgent national priorities.


January Jobs Report Demonstrates a Strengthening Labor Market

  • The January jobs report reveals a gain of 353,000 jobs, surpassing economists' expectations and marking a positive trend in the labor market's recovery. The unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7%, with notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and healthcare sectors.

  • The professional services industry, including AEC, saw gains of approximately 7% over the last year. As new jobs flood the sector and wages continue to increase, the AEC industry may see its struggle to obtain talent persist.

  • Average hourly earnings increased by 4.5% compared to the previous year, indicating a notable surge in wage growth. However, the labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 62.5%.

  • The strong job growth in January contributes to a positive economic outlook, supported by the Federal Reserve's commitment to managing inflation. As the labor market continues to recover, the January jobs report suggests a combination of improving economic conditions and ongoing challenges, emphasizing the complexity of the recovery process.

March 4, 2024

LJA Engineering (LJA), a Texas-based multi-disciplinary engineering consulting firm, has acquired Freeland & Kaufmann, Inc., a South Carolina-based site and civil engineering firm. The acquisition supports LJA's commitment to expanding its footprint in the southeast United States, adding additional offices in Charleston and Greenville. James Ross, CEO of LJA, commented, "This partnership is a testament to our commitment to providing unparalleled service to our clients while expanding our existing presence in South Carolina. Together, we will leverage our combined expertise to deliver exceptional value to clients."


March 5, 2024

Stengel Hill Architecture (SHA), a Kentucky-based architectural design firm specializing in healthcare facilities, and backed by Godspeed Capital Management, has acquired Smith Consulting Architects (SCA), a California-based architecture design firm specializing in master planning and interior design. The acquisition marks the first addition to SHA's platform and extends its geographic footprint into California. Brad Stengel, Senior Principal and Founding Partner of SHA, said of the acquisition, "SCA's highly experienced, licensed, and accredited team comprises some of the industry's top professionals, and the platform has built a reputation for excellence that will help diversify our growing portfolio of clients across the U.S. healthcare facilities market."


March 6, 2024

Hoyle Tanner, a New Hampshire-based engineering services firm, has acquired TF Bernier, a New Hampshire-based surveying and consulting firm. The acquisition expands Hoyle Tanner's portfolio of services to include land surveying, environmental permitting, stormwater design, wildlife resource identification, and sUAS (drone) capabilities. Hoyle Tanner CEO and President Christopher Mulleavey commented, "Having a professional relationship with the TF Bernier team for nearly 30 years, we know their values aligned perfectly with ours relative to being employee and client focused. We are truly excited about this partnership for the additional capabilities we can now bring to our clients and the growth opportunities it will create for our team members."


March 7, 2024

RTM Engineering Consultants (RTM), an Illinois-based engineering consulting firm backed by Luana Investments, has acquired K&A Engineering (K&A), a California-based civil engineering, land development, and surveying services firm. The acquisition expands RTM's civil services on the West Coast and brings additional expertise to the RTM team. Tony Mirchandani, CEO of RTM, commented, "We are thrilled to be integrating the K&A team with RTM. Not only is their expertise and reputation in the Southern California market unmatched, but their team culture aligns seamlessly with our own. We look forward with anticipation to the opportunities that lie ahead."


March 7, 2024

RMA Companies (RMA), a California-based professional services firm specializing in materials testing, inspection, certification, environmental, and geotechnical consulting, backed by OceanSound Partners, has acquired Insight Group, a South Carolina-based geotechnical, environmental, and construction materials engineering consulting firm. The acquisition expands RMA's geographic reach in the Southeastern market and supports its continued strategy of establishing a national platform for technology-enabled testing, inspection, and certification capabilities. Insight Group Founder William "Reg" Christopher will continue to lead the region as Southeastern Divisional President for RMA. Reg Christopher commented on the acquisition, "We are pleased to partner with RMA and expand our presence in the Southeast and beyond. Through this partnership we are excited to deliver expanded capabilities to our clients and growth opportunities to our employees."

Women in Construction Week™ (WIC Week™), held from March 3-9, 2024, is an annual event that celebrates and promotes the role of women in the construction industry. This year’s theme, ‘Keys to the Future’, underscores the vital role women play in shaping the industry’s future. Many top construction and design firms in the AEC industry are celebrating the week, showing support for their women employees through various activities. The event, which has grown since its inception in 1998, includes activities such as presentations to high school classes, job site tours, luncheons, and virtual events.


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