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Archive for February, 2018

New Industry Snapshot dated February 2018 and based on January starts stats

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that January’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential activity, was $29.3 billion. The fact that some of the monthly starts numbers can display wild swings is confirmed by the following. January 2018’s volume of starts relative to December 2017’s level was +35.8%; but January 2018 compared with January 2017 was -22.6%.


The outsized percentage changes resulted from December 2017 being abnormally low ($21.6 billion) and January 2017 being inordinately high ($37.9 billion). Usually, it’s the presence or absence of a mega project or two that causes the monthly number to display extreme volatility.

Comparing January of this year with the annual average for January from the preceding five years, 2013 to 2017, − i.e., employing a ‘smoothing’ technique, − yields an increase of +9.7%.

The starts figures throughout this report are not seasonally adjusted (NSA). Nor are they altered for inflation. They are expressed in what are termed ‘current’ as opposed to ‘constant’ dollars.

View this information as an infographic.


Canada’s January Jobs Report Shocks on the Downside

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

After exceptional increases in total employment in the final two months of last year – i.e., +81,000 jobs in November and +65,000 jobs in December − January of 2017’s figure of -88,000, as just reported for Canada by Statistics Canada, is a major shock.

The foregoing numbers are based on seasonally adjusted (SA) data. SA versus NSA (not seasonally adjusted) will become important as this article unfolds.

Canada’s January Jobs Report Shocks on the Downside Graphic
To place the latest month in context, January’s steep slide was the most severe since January 2009’s descent of -125,000 jobs. But in January 2009, the Great Recession was feasting on the economy and the resulting devastation in the labour market was not unexpected.

To lose 88,000 jobs when year-over-year GDP has been growing nicely, at a pace of about +3.0%, is quite another matter.

Furthermore, the composition of that drop seems unusual. There was a +49,000 gain in full-time work that was overwhelmed by a -137,000 step-down in part-time jobs.

At no other time since the turn of the century has the month-to-month retreat in part-time jobs been as dramatic as -137,000. The sharpest decline prior to the latest month was only 60% as bad, at -78,000 in March 2011.

2018’s First Monthly Jobs Report Launches Year in Fine Style

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

In January, net new U.S. jobs creation was +200,000, according to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The +200,000 jobs figure was greater than the monthly average increase throughout last year of +176,000.

The unemployment rate in the latest month stayed the same as in December, at 4.1%. Only rarely in the past has the jobless level been better. The last time it managed to slip below 4.0% was seventeen years ago, in 2000 at the beginning of the new century.

2018-02-05-US-Construction-Labor-GraphicThe ongoing strength in employment continues to find confirmation in the weekly initial jobless claims data. At the height of the Great Recession, the number of first-time unemployment insurance seekers in the economy soared to a truly unpleasant peak of 653,000.

A figure of 300,000 or less is generally considered by analysts to be the benchmark for when the labor market is ticking along smoothly. After the Great Recession, it seemed to take forever for initial jobless claims to recede to the 300,000 level.

The actual length of time that was covered waiting for that magic moment was six years. It occurred for the week ending March 7, 2015.

Oh how things have changed since then!

In four weeks’ time, if initial jobless claims remain low, they will be under 300,000 for 156 weeks in a row, or three straight years. (For January 13, 2018, they were a ‘rock bottom’ 216,000. For the latest week ending January 27, 2018, they were 230,000.)

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