ABC: Construction Unemployment Rates Down in 20 States, Showing Regional Improvements in Jobs Numbers

Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. logo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3—Like most of the economy, construction, and therefore construction employment, was hit hard by the spread of COVID-19 and measures to limit the pandemic. However, construction performed better than many other occupational groups and has been relatively quick to rebound, though not back to its pre-COVID-19 levels, according to a state-by-state analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors.Since February, 20 states had lower estimated construction unemployment rates in September even as the national construction unemployment rate was up by 1.6%, due to local market variances.

See graphs of overall unemployment rates (Tab 1) and construction unemployment rates (Tab 2) showing the impact of the pandemic, including a new graphing tool that creates a chart for multiple states; alphabetical lists and rankings; and monthly and annual state unemployment rates.

“After many bumps and bruises, construction has proven to be one of the better performing sectors of the economy over a difficult period. Overall, as of September, about half of the states suffered from construction job losses, while work in several areas remained steady,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Construction has generally done a good job of taking measures to protect its workers from the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. The impact on construction activity comes more from local increases in COVID-19 cases and efforts to contain these outbreaks.”

2020 Decline in Construction Employment, Compared to 2019: In February, on a year-over-year basis, not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 37 states, rose in 12 states and were unchanged in one state (New Hampshire), and national NSA construction employment was 214,000 higher than in February 2019—signifying a robust job market.

In March, the early effects of the spread of the disease and local restrictions began to appear. Only eight states had a lower construction unemployment rate than in March 2019, 41 states were higher, and one state was unchanged (Indiana). At the same time, 16 states had a rate lower than in February. Meanwhile, national NSA construction employment was still up by 125,000 from March 2019.By April and May, a period when construction typically ramps up, the pain was being felt throughout the country. All 50 states had higher construction unemployment rates than in the same month in 2019. Over that same time frame, construction employment dropped 912,000 in April and 464,000 in May from the year before.

In June and July, construction unemployment rates were up from the same month the previous year in 49 states and were lower in just one state (Kentucky, both months). Construction employment was down 334,000 in June and 326,000 in July from the previous year.

In August and September, once more, all 50 states had higher estimated construction unemployment rates than the same month in 2019. Over the same period, construction employment fell 299,000 in August and 285,000 in September.

From February to September, the national NSA construction unemployment rate went from 5.5% in February to a peak of 16.6% in April to 7.1% in September, its lowest post-February rate, according to BLS numbers.

Recent Month-to-Month Fluctuations: Because these industry-specific rates are not seasonally adjusted, national and state-level unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis. However, in the current situation, with fast-changing events, month-to-month comparisons are useful, but extra care should be used in looking at those numbers.

The national NSA construction unemployment rate was down 0.5% from August to September. Since the data series began in 2000, the historical pattern of change in rates from August has been ambiguous, with nine increases, nine decreases and two unchanged prior to this year. Among the states, 35 had lower estimated construction unemployment rates than in August, while 13 were higher and two were unchanged (Connecticut and Indiana).

The Top Five States: The states with the lowest September estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:

  • South Dakota, 2.9%
  • Missouri, 3%
  • North Carolina, 3.3%
  • Nebraska and Utah, 3.4%

Three of these states—North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah—were in the top five in August. South Dakota had the lowest rate in September, up from third lowest in August.Missouri had the second lowest rate in September, up from tied with Wyoming for the 14th lowest rate the previous month.North Carolina had the third lowest rate in September, down from the second lowest rate in August. Nebraska and Utah tied for the fourth lowest rate in September. For Utah, this was down from lowest in August, while for Nebraska, it was up from seventh lowest.

Most Improved Since February: Top Five States: The top five states whose NSA construction unemployment rates were down the most since February in order from largest to smallest change were:

  • West Virginia, -5.3%
  • Alaska, -4.1%
  • Kentucky and Maine (tie), -3.9%
  • Montana, -2.5%

Note that three of these states—Alaska, Maine and Montana—are cold-weather states where February weather often means an elevated construction unemployment rate. However, Montana posted its second lowest February construction unemployment rate since the beginning of estimates in 2000. Warmer-than-normal weather likely played a part in the jobs growth, as well as the state’s strong energy and forestry sectors where unemployed construction workers can generally find work.

West Virginia has suffered from high construction unemployment rates during the past several years, but saw some overall improvement in this measure in the last year or so. Given the state’s mountainous geography, it often experiences a high construction unemployment rate in February due to weather conditions. From May through September, with the exception of August, the state increased construction employment every month. Although an improvement, September’s rate remains high for the state by historical standards.

All these states have relatively low overall unemployment rates. This suggests that for those who cannot find employment in construction, jobs may be available in other sectors of the economy. There is also the possibility that some unemployed construction workers have retired, gone on disability or stopped looking for work altogether, which would mean they are not counted as unemployed.

The Bottom Five States: The states with the highest September estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:

  • Ohio, 11.2%
  • Michigan, 11.3%
  • Massachusetts, 13.4%
  • Rhode Island, 21.2%
  • Hawaii, 24.6%

All five of these states were also in the bottom five in August. Hawaii had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate in September compared to second highest in August. (Note that the unemployment rate for Hawaii is for construction, mining and logging combined.)

Rhode Island had the second highest rate in September compared to the highest in August. Massachusetts had the third highest rate in September for the fourth consecutive month.

Michigan had the fourth highest rate in September compared to a tie with Ohio for fifth highest in August. For the second month in a row, Ohio had the fifth highest rate in August.

Least Improved Since February: Bottom Five States: The bottom five states whose NSA construction unemployment rates were up the most since February in order from smallest to largest increase were:

  • California, 3.4%
  • Nevada, 5.3%
  • Massachusetts, 5.4%
  • Rhode Island, 7.1%
  • Hawaii, 17.9%

Hawaii, again a state whose unemployment rate is for construction, mining and logging combined, has suffered the worst setback. It was doing reasonably well in February with a somewhat low construction unemployment rate for the state. The pandemic and reaction to it hit the state hard with travel, and consequently tourism (both domestic and foreign), suffering severe damage. As a result, construction felt the fallout. Both the overall and construction unemployment rates shot up and, although they have fallen somewhat, remain high. With little work available on the mainland (particularly the West Coast), the usual safety valve of traveling for employment when construction in Hawaii falters was not available this time.

February and March are normally difficult for Rhode Island due to the weather. Despite warmer-than-normal temperatures in early 2020, the coronavirus hit the state’s construction industry particularly hard, rocketing its construction unemployment rate in April. Since then, there has been continual but slow improvement, still leaving the rate 7.1% higher than in February.

Like Rhode Island, Massachusetts was doing well early in the year, posting its lowest January and February NSA construction unemployment rates on record. This even continued into March with its second lowest rate on record. Both states saw increased monthly construction employment from May through August. As with Rhode Island, Massachusetts’ construction industry was hit hard in April, sending its construction unemployment rate soaring. Since then, the state has experienced steady progress lowering that unemployment rate. Still, its September rate was 5.4% above February’s rate. With a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, the progress the state has made may be reversed over the next few months.

California and Nevada have both suffered from widespread wildfires, adding to the slowdown in construction due to the pandemic. Both states had thriving construction activity at the beginning of the year, with each posting its lowest construction unemployment rate on record in January and February. Rates rose in March and peaked in April. Since then, rates have been on a downward trajectory but remain high by historical standards. Presumably, some unemployed construction workers found employment fighting the wildfires.To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, see the article Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.Visit for the Construction Backlog Indicator and Construction Confidence Index, plus analysis of spending, employment, GDP and the Producer Price Index. 

Associated Builders and Contractors is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents more than 21,000 members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 69 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit us at   

Tile of Spain announces winners of the 2020 edition of the Tile of Spain Awards

Miami, FL December 2020 – Tile of Spain, the association representing over 125 Spanish tile manufacturers, announces the winners of the 19th annual Tile of Spain Awards of Architecture and Interior Design. The panel of judges, chaired by architects Kengo Kuma of KKAA, met on Thursday, November 26th, to evaluate the submissions and name a winner in each category.  

Winning Projects:

Architecture Winner: Casa Ter, by Mesura Studio

Architecture: “Casa Ter” by Mesura Studio The jury was moved by the connection the single-family home has with the surrounding environment. The structure of the residence was built entirely of concrete and large elongated ceramic pieces, both of which were manufactured with natural clay from nearby La Bisbal, Spain. The interior of the home opens up to nature, establishing a unique indoor-outdoor living concept. Special Mentions “Runnymede College Campus” by Rojo/Fernández-Shaw and “The Young Old House” by Enrique Espinosa & Lys Villalba.

Interior Design Winner: Atlantis Gastrobar by Arantxa Manrique Arquitectes

Interior Design: “Atlantis Gastrobar” by Arantxa Manrique Arquitectes The jury strongly valued the design of this small lounge that allowed ceramic tiles to shine as the true protagonist in this project. Ceramic subway tiles were placed in a vertical arrangement to add height and volume to this small space, while the electric blue bar demands attention by passersby.  Special Mentions“Tienda Camper La Roca” by Tomás Alonso and “6 Viviendas en Cabrera de Mar” by TWOBO Arquitectura.

Final Degree Project: Propuesta Para un Centro de MENAS by Andrea Puebla Yubero of CEU San Pablo Madrid

Final Degree Project:  “Propuesta Para un Centro de MENAS” by Andrea Puebla Yubero of CEU San Pablo MadridThe judges admired the proposal for a typology of “impluvium building” beyond the traditional method of constructing a Mediterranean style patio to carry off excess rain water. Special Mentions“Patios de Agua y Olivos” by Alba Jiménex of ETSA Granada and “Salam Bir” by Eduardo Casado López of ETSA Madrid.  

The Judges

The panel of judges was chaired by prestigious Tokyo based architect, Kengo Kuma. After graduating from the University of Tokyo with a degree in architecture, Kuma founded his own studio, KKAA in his home country of Japan. In 2008, Kuma established Kuma & Associates Europe and is now involved in projects in over twenty countries.

The panel of judges also included Javier Villar Ruiz (KKAA), Jonathan Arnabat (Arquitectura-G), Izaskum Chinchilla, Daria de Seta (Garcés-de Seta-Bonet) and Lázaro Rosa-Violán. To download the full press kit, click here. To download the full Awards press release and high-resolution images, click here.

About the Awards

The objective of the Tile of Spain Awards is to promote the use of Spanish ceramic tiles in architecture and interior design projects (both in Spain and abroad). The program boasts a consolidated trajectory and are held in high esteem by architecture professionals. 

The Tile of Spain Awards offer cash prizes totaling over $44,000 that are divided among three areas. The two main categories – Architecture and Interior Design – each have a cash prize of over $19,000. Special mentions may also be made in both categories, based on the judges’ criteria. The third category, the Final Degree Project, targets students of architecture and has a cash prize of over $5,000. In all three categories, entries are welcome from both Spanish and international participants. 

The award ceremony will be held in Valencia during CEVISAMA 2021. Full details of this and previous editions of the awards are available at

Walls, floors and showers get upgrades in majority of bathroom refreshes, Houzz study finds

The Houzz 2020 Bathroom Trends Study reveals popular features, styles and colors

Wall finishes, floors and showers are near the top of the list of features targeted in bathroom renovations, according to a recent Houzz study. 
Rachel Loewen ©2019 Houzz

Wall finishes, floors and showers – all target areas for the use of tile in a bathroom – tie at 83% of upgrades in a home bathroom, coming in second only to faucets at 87%, according to the 2020 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. 79% of homeowners seek new countertops in bathroom renovations – another perfect application for porcelain slab or engineered stone. The study surveys nearly 1,600 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are in the midst of, are planning, or recently completed a master bathroom renovation.

An old or outdated space is by far the leading pet peeve for homeowners prior to a master bathroom renovation (69%, up from 59% in 2019), according to the study. Nearly nine in 10 renovating homeowners change the style of their master bathrooms as one way to bring it up to date (89%), with modern leading the way (20%), followed by transitional and contemporary (18%, each). 

Insufficient storage, small showers, poor lighting and limited counter space are among homeowners’ other leading grievances (34%, 34%, 29% and 25, respectively). These coincide with the features most often upgraded during a master bathroom renovation including showers, light fixtures, countertops and vanity cabinets (83%, 80%, 79% and 74%, respectively). To address small showers, a majority of homeowners renovating their master bathrooms are increasing the size of their showers (54%), more than twice as many as those choosing to increase their bathroom’s overall size (20%). 

“We’re seeing that spending so much time at home is bringing a functional, beautiful bathroom to the top of the priority list for many homeowners,” said Liza Hausman, Houzz vice president of Industry Marketing. “They’re enlisting home professionals to bring bathrooms up to date with more current styles, and upgraded features like storage and lighting.”

More than four in five homeowners hired a professional to help with their master bathroom project (82%). General contractors were enlisted most often (43%), though renovating homeowners also hire specialists including bathroom remodelers and bathroom designers (20% and 12%, respectively). 

Bathroom renovations continue to command significant investment, with homeowners undergoing a major remodel, including a shower update, spending three times more than those doing minor remodels and leaving the shower as is (median spend of $14,000 versus $4,500). Bathroom size also impacts budget. Homeowners who remodel a master bathroom larger than 100 sq.ft. have a median spend of $7,000 more than those with a bathroom smaller than 100 sq.ft. ($17,000 versus $10,000, respectively). That said, the median national spend on master bathroom remodels is $8,000. 

Renovators are replacing vanity countertops in 79% of bathroom refreshes. 
Rachel Loewen ©2019 Houzz

Top trends

Additional bathroom trends from the study include:

Designing for R&R: Two in 5 renovating homeowners report using their bathroom to rest and relax (41%). The bathtub and shower are equally important features, with 55% of renovators saying soaking in the tub helps them to relax and 54% enjoying long showers. 

Bathtub soakingis down seven percentage points from last year, which might explain why only 10% of renovators are adding a bathtub (down two percentage points from 2019). In fact, renovators often opt to remove tubs in favor of enlarged showers. Those who do replace tubs most often (53%) choose flat-bottom, freestanding tubs, with deck-mounted tubs falling out of favor. Acrylic tops the material list for tubs (55%), with fiberglass falling five percentage points to 14%, while ceramic or porcelain increased six percentage points to 11% from 2019. 

Showers and bathtubs are nearly equally important in bathroom renovations, with many homeowners opting for larger showers over tubs, and those who choose tubs selecting freestanding flat-bottom models. 
Rachel Loewen ©2019 Houzz
Porcelain or ceramic is the favorite for shower walls among 70% of respondents; 59% choose these materials for bathroom floors outside the shower as well. 
Angela Flournoy ©2018 Houzz

Ceramic and porcelain rule for shower floors and walls: For those tackling shower walls, 70% favor ceramic or porcelain for wall finishes, up four percentage points from 2019. A majority of homeowners (56%) choose ceramic or porcelain for shower floors too. Marble comes in second for walls but only at 15%, and 13% for floors, the latter down five percentage points from 2019. Paint is the favorite for walls outside of showers (77%) but ceramic or porcelain bathroom walls come in next at 26%. Ceramic or porcelain is the runaway favorite for floors outside showers (59%), though it’s dipped four percentage points from 2019, with vinyl/resilient increasing four percentage points to 11%. 

Light and bright: White continues to be the top choice in master bathroom colors, with more than half of homeowners choosing white countertops (51%) and a significant portion opting for white walls both inside and outside of the shower (45% and 32%, respectively). 

Surface material distinguishes accent walls: More than a third of homeowners add or upgrade an accent wall during a master bathroom renovation (37%). Top colors include white (23%, up from 15% in 2019), followed by gray (21%) and blue (19%). Many use surface material to distinguish accent walls (51%, up seven percentage points from 2019), while standout color, pattern, and texture are also popular (45%, 41% and 28%, respectively). 

Customized, built-in and floating vanities abound: Of the three quarters of renovating homeowners who upgrade their vanity (74%), the majority choose to go with custom or semi-custom options (36% and 21%, respectively). Vanities are twice as likely to be built-in as opposed to freestanding (56% versus 28%, respectively), and floating vanities are growing in popularity (15% in 2020 versus 11%
in 2019).

Lighting features are key: Among the eight in 10 renovating homeowners who update light fixtures during their master bathroom renovation, wall lights and recessed lights remain the favorites (58% and 55%, respectively), followed by lighted mirrors and pendant lights (17% and 15%, respectively). Six percent install under-cabinet lights, likely tied to the popularity of floating vanities.

Installing many lit mirrors: Of the three in four homeowners who install new mirrors during a master bathroom renovation (77%), more than half install two or more mirrors (62%). The percentage of renovators installing three or more mirrors is growing (10%, compared with 7% in 2019). One in five renovators also install LED lighting in their mirrors, a significant increase from 2019 (20% versus 14%, respectively).

Touch-Free features on the rise: Nearly half of all new faucets and one-third of toilets (48% and 34%, respectively) include high-tech features. Water efficiency is the leading faucet technology (28%), but a growing percentage of faucets offers touch-only or touch-free activation (5%, up two percentage points from 2019). Nearly one in five homeowners who upgrade their toilet add a seat with a bidet (17%), up four percentage points from 2019. 

You can download the full 2020 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study here.

Please credit “Rachel Loewen © 2019 Houzz” for all photos, except for the Angela Flournoy photo. 

The “U.S. Bathroom Trends Study” is an online survey fielded to U.S. Houzz users between June and July 2020.

NAC yearly calendar: join the tradition

Do you have a fascination with classic cars and vehicle restoration? So did NAC’s founder, Tom Duve! In celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary in 2013, it started its “Classic Vehicles from the Flooring Industry” calendar as a way to recognize the hobby and share the cool and inspirational stories about classic vehicle restoration with people in the industry. This calendar is now an annual tradition that NAC is happy to share with you.

NAC creates this calendar as a thank you to those who make it proud to be NAC: dedicated customers, industry associates and new relationships. Request a calendar today, explore NAC’s past calendars or send in your classic car photos – you may just see it in next year’s calendar!

Contact Dave Hanna at [email protected][email protected] for details on submitting your car for consideration!

The 2021 edition is available for download here.

Use of digital tools: the new normal in construction

(PresseBox) ( MALMÖ/ Munich, 25.11.20) — A study carried out by BIMobject with surveys of more than 2,500professionals in the Architectural, Planning and Design (AECO)sector reveals how digitalization has accelerated in the sector due to the COVID-19 crisis. New digital tools are now a foundation with 61% saying this will be part of their basic workpost-pandemic with the concept of construction fair changed for good.

Since the advent of the pandemic, the world has seen a breakthrough in the adoption of digitization like never before. From one day to the next, companies all over the world have been forced to implement teleworking, videoconferencing or e-commerce in order to maintain their activities.

In this sense, the construction sector, one of the most traditional in terms of digitalization and the adoption of new tools, has been no exception. According to a study carried out by the BIM content platform for the construction sector, BIMobject , in which the responses of more than 2,500 professionals from the AECO sector were collected, more than half stated that their work had become “much more digital” since the beginning of the pandemic.

Not only that, but 61% expect to use even more digital tools after the COVID-19 crisis. This advance in the use of digital tools by professionals in the sector such as architects and engineers corresponds to the figures recorded by Autodesk, collected in the study published by BIMobject. According to the company’s own data, the number of subscribers in Europe has increased by 350% worldwide since the start of the pandemic.

The post-COVID construction fairs

One of the biggest blows the sector has experienced this year has been the cancellation of multiple construction fairs throughout the world. From Coverings in New Orleans to Salone del Mobile in Milan, BAU in Munich or BIMexpo in Madrid. The impossibility of holding large scale events, due to the strict measures implemented by the various health authorities, has cut short the plans of thousands of construction material manufacturers who were planning to present and promote their new products at these fairs.

The big question is – will the fairs return to normal? Recent news about the development of new vaccines seems to shed light on a scenario that was looking rather bleak. Many fairs, such as the next BAU in 2021, are already converting their exhibitions into hybrid events in order to accommodate all attendees, either in person or virtually, while respecting the corresponding security measures.

However, according to the survey carried out by BIMobject, only 7% of professionals in the AECO sector would be willing to attend an industry event today. According to the data collected, 45% of those surveyed attended these events mainly to attend conferences and receive training. Only 25% of industry professionals attended these events to discover new products, something they now do mainly through online search engines.

Digitization is making its way into the construction industry, not only because of COVID, but also because of the need to create more efficient and sustainable processes. With this data on the table, it is now up to the companies in the sector to decide how to redirect their marketing strategies towards a more digital and interactive environment.

LINK to download of the full report:

Clemson University Online offers Applied Drone Technology Course for General and Specialty Contractors

The Applied Drone Technology course, offered through Clemson Online, provides a comprehensive curriculum for contractors to start using this technology safely and profitably.  This course is  taught by one of the foremost drone educators in the country.  Dr. Joseph Burgett is a tenured professor at Clemson University and has extensive experience in the field.  He is a licensed General Contractor and specifically developed this course for general and specialty contractors. 

With 40 hours of material, you’ll learn everything you need to; 1) start saving time, 2) reduce risk, 3) improve logistics and 4) increase efficiency. 

This applied drone course, offered by Clemson University Online, has been developed for general and specialty contractors.

  Click Here for a Video Overview 

Enrollment Fee Includes:

  • Simulator software
  • Simulator controller 3D modeling software
  • FAA study guide
  • FAA test supplement booklet
  • 40 hours of material and activities

Those enrolled will:

  • Earn their Part 107 FAA Remote Pilots Certificate
  • Create 3D models, topographical surveys with incorporated ground control points and stich photos together. (software included) 
  • Quantity take offs such as earthwork volumes 
  • Use our drone simulator to practice flying (software and controller provided)
  • Know how to identify FAA airspace
  • Understand the FAA rules for drone use
  • Much more

Click the link below for more information    

Introducing new product sourcing and distribution opportunities from The International Surface Event

Now more than ever The International Surface Event (TISE): SURFACES | StonExpo/Marmomac | TileExpo is dedicated to being the premiere floor covering, stone, and tile product distribution network for the industry. In an effort to provide new opportunities for our communities to connect and grow, TISE has implemented a “lift and shift” planning program which has a host of opportunities available to ensure all manufacturers, as well as industry buyers, have the maximum opportunity for product distribution, sourcing, networking, and learning. TISE is excited to announce it has expanded its product distribution network with some of these opportunities incorporating the Las Vegas landmark event (TISE Las Vegas), a new virtual experience (TISE Live Virtual Event), and an online broadcasting network (TISE TV). 
TISE LAS VEGAS | JUNE 16-18, 2021
The landmark TISE event, TISE Las Vegas, which normally occurs in January each year, will occur in June for 2021 offering buyers the opportunity to be face-to-face with their business associates and their industry friends. See the newest products, have in-person conversations, and enjoy a special buying experience. Plus, for the first time ever in TISE’s history, the event will be occurring in summer so visitors can take advantage of all of the fun seasonal and outdoor opportunities Las Vegas has to offer while at the event. Exciting new features are being developed for the Las Vegas event, so watch for updates at

TISE LIVE VIRTUAL EVENT | January 26-28, 2021
Occurring this upcoming January over the original TISE event dates is the new TISE Live Virtual Event.This unique industry event will GO LIVE online with the future of floor covering, stone, and tile surfaces for 2021 offering attendees the opportunity to connect and preview products while enjoying creative, immersive online experiences. Join us for three packed days of product-focused live meetings, education, product pitch videos, and unique, fun content and activities, January 26-28, 2021. 
Presenting sponsor | Mannington Mills, Registration sponsor | Phenix Flooring.

TISE TV | Airing episodes all year long
TISE has partnered with the Live Broadcast Network (LBN) to bring the industry a whole new floor covering, stone, and tile shopping and product sourcing experience: the TISE TV Broadcasting Network, streaming all original product programming on Facebook. Episodes will also be available through Google Tv, Youtube, and LInkedIn. Plus, after ariring, episodes are available on demand and sharable with customers. The first episodes from Mannington Mills and Kardean Designflooring are in production now and will be launching as weekly webisodes starting in December. Watch for the TV Guide coming online to preview air dates and follow us on Facebook to ensure you get the live feed updates when the episodes air. TISE TV is an opportunity to watch product introductions and connect with the presenting manufacturers live from anywhere in the world. 

There is so much to look forward to as the TISE team rolls out these product sourcing opportunities and new programs for the upcoming year. Manufacturers interested in participating in any of the above programs should contact the TISE team. Industry professionals should watch for updates and news on all of these programs, and maybe even a few more, in the coming months! Make sure to sign up for the event newsletters and follow the event on social media to stay abreast of industry and event news.

Leading the industry in a changing world

Normally I like to call this article a year in review, and then share with our readers what the National Tile Contractors Association is planning for the following year. I can safely tell you that thanks to the new world we live in, it is very difficult to plan ahead. A better way to describe it would be to say that we are ready to react to whatever situation comes our way. 

The COVID pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. In the association world, it was particularly devastating. All of our educational seminars, training programs, and tradeshows were either cancelled or postponed. Certification tests administered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) were similarly put on hold. This affects our ability to impact the industry and impacts our revenue and outreach. 

I am proud of the way the staff reacted to this situation. Under their leadership, with volunteer support and interaction from a wide array of active members, NTCA reported ongoing developments on legislation, relief and contractor and industry wide responses to COVID on and established a Coronavirus Response Hotline on the NTCA website at We keep this current today. We partnered with other association leaders to share important information for our members to access. 

The training team at NTCA and CTEF quickly mobilized and created virtual webinars and training programs, including offering NTCA workshops online. They also initiated multiple roundtable talks for contractors to get together to discuss issues ranging from operating in a new world, to best practices and technical installation discussions. These programs have continued to grow in popularity and participation. 

TileLetter gets a digital upgrade; ARTISAN publication launches

The new TileLetter Digital Magazine is easy to navigate via a range of devices.

Moving into 2021, I am excited to make a few major announcements. First and foremost, NTCA has decided to expand our outreach in digital marketing with a new TileLetter Digital Magazine. This monthly feature will include video links and technical and business content that is easy to access and read with smartphones, tablets and computers. 

TileLetter ARTISAN will champion artisan tile setters with spring and fall issues.

In talking with our members for the past few years, it has become very clear that NTCA must continue to be a strong advocate and voice for the craftsmanship and artisanship that our skilled installers possess. This is what sets our trade apart from other industries. In addition to many installation awards we offer for our members, we recently introduced the NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Awards. Based on the incredible submissions we receive, and the artistic impact our installers make in the world, we are introducing two new issues of TileLetter in print in 2021. TileLetter ARTISAN will be featured in both the spring and the fall and will celebrate both residential and commercial artistic and technically-challenging installations and projects, as well as the historical legacy of craftsmanship tile setters share stretching back through time.

Using technology to strengthen training

NTCA training staff has invested in mobile equipment to offer more programs on social media in both live and recorded formats.

We are planning for a return to physical training programs, certification testing and educational seminars in 2021. Currently, we are slating most of our programs to begin in late spring and they will continue throughout the year. In order to supplement these programs and reach a broader audience, the NTCA training staff has invested in mobile equipment to offer more programs on social media in both live and recorded formats. We will film training tips and videos for these platforms, and if and when we can travel again, we will use this technology to feature distributor and manufacturer sponsors, visit contractor members at our events and on their jobsites, and of course showcase NTCA events live and in video channels. We are really excited about what the virtual mobile program will offer. In a worst case scenario, if we are unable to travel in 2021 due to the continued restraints we currently have with the pandemic, we will be able to communicate to our members and the industry utilizing all of these platforms and tools. Let’s hope that is not the case. 

NTCA is in sound financial position and is committed to continuing to expand our outreach to the installation community and the entire tile industry. We are proud of the service we have continued to provide for our members, and we will continue to look to new and innovative ways we can communicate and interact with them no matter what happens in the world. We are proud of the continued commitment our members have made to our staff and to each other. 

Members helping members – Owen, Kemna and Welch gather in Grand Rapids for a strategy session. 

I would like to close with a great example of what getting involved in NTCA means to some people, and can mean for you. Thanks to years of attending NTCA programs and events, Rod Owen of C.C. Owen Tile Company in Atlanta, and Barry Kemna of Kemna Tile in Dallas, flew to Michigan to meet with Dan Welch of Welch Tile and Marble in Grand Rapids. They spent several days and into the weekend together, examining new strategies they were considering based on regional and national changes they are anticipating. This is the type of collaboration that occurs when members helping members takes place; and it happens every day. NTCA is proud to be an organization that encourages and facilitates this type of interaction. 

Giving Tuesday: ALMA raffle and fundraiser

A raffle and fundraiser that begins today and extends through December 18 will support ALMA (Apprenticeships for Leaders in Mosaic Arts)  Summer Institute in Albuquerque, N.M.

ALMA was initially established in 1999 as part of the Mayor’s Art Institute, under Mayor Jim Baca. It affords young people aged 16-25 from high schools, college and the community the opportunity to conceptualize, design, plan, hand make and glaze tiles, and install them in various sites around town as part of a paid summer apprenticeship.

ALMA (which means “soul” in Spanish) is operated by a handful of lead artists and three co-directors: Cassandra Reid (, Executive Director; Vanessa Alvarado (, Outreach Director; and Margarita Paz-Pedro(, Operations Director. It has evolved into a 501 (c)3 non-profit , with the majority of its funding coming from grants.

Due to COVID, funding is even more precarious.  ALMA is having an online Raffle and Fundraiser to help it to continue to provide programming for youth in the arts, and to raise $4,000.00 for its own kiln.

ALMA apprentices and Outreach Director Vanessa Alvarado (far left) working on the butterfly mosaic on the wall of the Albuquerque Convention Center in August 2020.

ALMA will announce the winner on Monday, Dec. 21st.  There are four amazingly creative items to raffle off.  Check it out and please share with everyone you know! Find out more here: ALMA Raffle 

Win this butterfly in the raffle. This beauty is about 2ft wide by 1.5ft in height.  If you are the winner, ALMA will come and install and grout it in the place of your choosing in NM or ship it to you with installation and grouting instructions out of state.

These native New Mexican flowers beautify any space they are located. This sunflower is about 2.25ft in height by 16 inches wide and in bloom all year long. The winner may choose a location and it will be installed and grouted in NM or it will be shipped to out-of-state winners with installation and grouting instructions.
Local metal sculpture artist Mike Mulvey created the form and apprentice Jacquelyn Yepa tiled a lovely color combination and fade using butterflies from this summer’s mural. It measures at 8.5”h x 6”w x 5”d — and the box opens!
This ALMA tote was screen printed in-house, using ALMA’s 20th-year logo design, “Mosaics for the Soul.” There is also an 8.5”x 11” high-quality art print of the spring 2011 project “Winds of Change” and a tile magnet with one of ALMA’s signature glazes.

Interested in simply making a donation? Follow this link to see ways you can support ALMA. Donations of $50 or more will receive a tax-deduction letter.

crowd of people at unveiling of a mosaic mural
One of the murals created by ALMA on the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Nonresidential construction spending remains flat in October while residential construction expands; many commercial projects languish

logo for AGC

Demand for most types of nonresidential projects remains flat amid COVID-10 uncertainty, dwindling state and local budgets and the lack of new federal coronavirus relief measures which put jobs at risk.

The construction industry’s fortunes continued to diverge in October, as residential construction expanded again while nonresidential construction remained largely unchanged from a month ago and is down compared to last year, according to an analysis of new federal construction spending data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that demand for nonresidential construction is being hit by private sector worries about the coronavirus, tighter state and local budgets and the lack of new federal pandemic relief measures.

“The October spending report shows private nonresidential construction is continuing to slide,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Public construction spending has fluctuated in recent months but both types of nonresidential spending have fallen significantly from recent peaks this year and appear to be heading even lower.”

Construction spending in October totaled $1.44 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, an increase of 1.3 percent from the pace in September and 3.7 percent higher than in October 2019. But the gains were limited to residential construction, which increased 2.9 percent for the month and 14.6 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, private and public nonresidential spending was virtually unchanged from September and declined 3.7 percent from a year earlier.

Private nonresidential construction spending declined for the fourth month in a row, slipping 0.7 percent from September to October, with decreases in nine out of 11 categories. The October total was 8.2 percent lower than in October 2019. The largest private nonresidential segment, power construction, declined 0.8 percent for the month. Among the other large private nonresidential project types, commercial construction—comprising retail, warehouse and farm structures—slid 1.0 percent, manufacturing construction declined 0.8 percent, and office construction dipped 0.2 percent.

Public construction spending increased 1.0 percent in October and 3.7 percent year-over-year. The largest public category, highway and street construction, gained 1.6 percent for the month. Among other large public segments, educational construction increased 1.1 percent for the month and transportation construction rose 1.0 percent.

Private residential construction spending increased for the fifth consecutive month, rising 2.9 percent in October. Single-family homebuilding jumped 5.6 percent for the month, while multifamily construction spending rose 1.2 percent and residential improvements spending was flat.

Association officials said demand for nonresidential construction was unlikely to rebound in the near-term without new federal relief measures, putting additional construction careers at risk. These should include new investments in infrastructure, to improve aging roads and bridges, public buildings and water utility networks. Federal officials should refrain from taxing Paycheck Protection Program loans as it would undermine the benefits of that program. And Congress and the administration should work together to enact liability reforms to protect honest firms from frivolous coronavirus lawsuits.

“As long as the coronavirus undermines private sector confidence and public sector budgets, the only way to save good-paying construction careers is through new federal relief measures,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Fixing the nation’s infrastructure, preserving the benefits of the PPP program and protecting honest employers will give the economy a much-needed short-term boost.”

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