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Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for ConstructConnect. He is a frequent contributor to the Daily Commercial News and the Journal of Commerce. He has delivered presentations throughout North America on the Canadian, United States and world construction outlooks. A trusted and often-quoted source for … More »

Infographic: Notable U.S. and Canada Construction Project Starts

 
June 7th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

Due to its complexity, much of the subject matter concerning the economy requires detailed editorial commentary, often supported by relevant tables and graphs. This infographic looks at notable U.S. and Canada construction project starts.

Infographic: Notable U.S. and Canada construction project starts

At the same time, though, there are many topics (e.g., relating to demographics, housing starts, etc.) that cry out for compelling ‘short-hand’ visualizations.

Whichever path is followed, the point of the journey, almost always, is to reach a bottom line or two.

To provide additional value at its corporate blog site, ConstructConnect is now pleased to offer an ongoing series of Infographics.

These will help readers sort out the ‘big picture’ more clearly.

to view the latest infographic  Click Here

Monitoring the Cost of 3 of Life’s Essentials: Gasoline, Rent and Coffee

 
May 29th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

Aficionados of horror movies know there are certain things – e.g., the proximity of Frankenstein’s monster – that will cause ‘the villagers’ to pick up their pitchforks and charge into the woods for a confrontation. It’s widely understood that the ‘villagers’ are you and me.

Such works may be escapist fiction, but while basic safety and security will always be a primary concern in real life, there are other terrors in non-fiction that are equally likely to incite our concern and ire and they’re mainly economic – e.g., a scarcity of jobs or sky-high prices.

With respect to inflation and rapidly increasing price levels, this article looks at three products that for many people are essentials – rent, gasoline and coffee.

Charts 1 through 6 show the year-over-year percentage changes of the rent, gasoline and coffee sub-indices within the broader Consumer Price Index (CPI) data produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Statistics Canada.

In the U.S., media headlines immediately prior to Memorial Day Weekend carried the message that travelers taking to the roads were about to discover that a fill-up at the gas pump would cost them nearly one-third more than a year ago.

The stronger U.S. economy has been contributing to more demand for gasoline. According to the website, www.gasbuddy.com/charts, the average price of gasoline in America is now $3.00 USD per gallon. Last year at the same time, it was $2.40. The increase has been +25%.

Rent Prices USA
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Austin, San Jose and Orlando Lead U.S. Large City Labor Markets

 
May 25th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

Tables 1 and 2 accompanying this article set out the latest (March 2018) year-over-year jobs growth and unemployment rate rankings for the 51 largest (by population) U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). The raw data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The objective for any city is that its jobs growth be faster rather than slower and that its unemployment rate be lower rather than higher. The total U.S. pace of employment gain has most recently been +1.5% year over year, while the national jobless rate has dropped to 3.9%.

The three U.S. cities with the best combined results from Tables 1 and 2 are: Austin, TX; San Jose, CA; and Orlando, FL. In March of this year, Austin was first for jobs growth (+3.6%) and tied for sixth with respect to unemployment rate (3.1%). Orlando was second for jobs growth (+3.5%) and tied for ninth with respect to unemployment rate (3.3%). San Jose was ninth for jobs growth (+2.7%), but tied for first with respect to unemployment rate (2.7%).
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12 Mid-May Economic Nuggets With an Emphasis on Mega Projects

 
May 18th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

t’s been a busy four-weeks-plus on the news front since the writing of the previous mid-month Nuggets report. A surfeit of headline stories has included: a volcano erupting in Hawaii; an on-again off-again bromance between President Trump and Kim Jung Un of North Korea; the relocation of America’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; feverish preparations for a royal wedding ‘across the pond’; U.S. withdrawal from the deal designed to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons capability; a drip-drip of revelations concerning Washington influence-peddling dished out by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels; and violence in the Gaza Strip.

A Dozen Mid-May Economic Nuggets Graphic

Shunted aside by other attention-grabbing matters, the economy seems to have taken a back seat for a while. But the spotlight never stays away for long and there are the following observations that arise from the latest press and data releases issued by government and private sector entities.

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ConstructConnect’s April Starts +14%, A Bit Better than Usual Seasonal Uptick

 
May 15th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that April’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential activity, was $42.5 billion. The latest month-to-month change was +14.3%. Moving from March to April usually accounts for the biggest gain due to seasonality. The long-term average increase in starts between the third and fourth months of the year has been +12.0%.

2018-05-14-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Starts-April-2018

April of this year versus the same month of last year was -5.0%. April of this year versus the five-year average for April, from 2013 through 2017, however, was a much better +28.8%.

April 2018’s year-to-date performance was -15%. Still, that was an improvement over March’s first-reported pull-back of -22%. The year-to-date percentage changes early in 2018 are being held down by Q1 2017’s exceptional strength in starts. This effect will gradually dissipate.

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
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An Eye-Popping 3.9% Unemployment Rate in April’s U.S. Jobs Report

 
May 4th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

April’s Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights a month-to-month increase in total U.S. jobs of +164,000. But that figure understates the employment improvement, since March’s level was revised upwards by +30,000.

U.S. April Jobs Report Graphic

Therefore, the accumulated gain in April was +194,000 jobs.

The average monthly increase in total U.S. employment through the first one-third of this year has been +200,000. In 2017, during the same January-to-April time frame, the average monthly climb was +117,000. The year-over-year increase in the monthly average is +13.0%.

The number that really pops out from the latest data release on the U.S. labor market, however, is the unemployment rate. Prior to April, it had been sitting at 4.1% for six months in a row.

In April, it finally dropped below 4.0% to stand at 3.9%. A 3.9% jobless figure is the lowest since December 2000, almost two decades ago.

Furthermore, there is another measure of the unemployment rate calculated by the BLS that is broader in scope and habitually higher. Its official title is U-6 and it includes individuals only marginally attached to the labor force, plus those who are engaged part-time but would prefer to be occupied full-time.

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11 Mid-April Economic Nuggets

 
April 16th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

Despite U.S. construction continuing to record a total activity level below potential, the sector should be receiving more bouquets for the bigger role it is playing in the economy overall.

11 Mid-April Economic Nuggets Graphic

Historical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records that in the year 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs in America’s economy was 17.3 million. The same source records that the number of construction jobs at the turn of the century was 6.8 million.

In 2017 versus 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. was down by 28% to 12.4 million, while the number of construction jobs was ahead by 3%, to 7.0 million.

The clearest way to illustrate the rising importance of construction relative to manufacturing, at least from an employment standpoint, is to express their relationship in terms of a ratio. In 2000, there were four jobs in construction for every ten jobs in manufacturing. Now, there almost six on-site jobs for every ten production-line positions.

More dramatic still has been the shift in favor of construction work in Canada. In 2000, there were 2.2 million Canadian manufacturing jobs compared with 800,000 in construction. By 2017, manufacturing employment had retreated by -23%, to 1.7 million, while construction employment had surged by +75%, to 1.4 million.
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Ranking and Reviewing America’s Top Dozen Exporting States

 
April 3rd, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

This article provides a ranking of America’s Top Dozen States according to their goods export volumes in full year 2017.

Total U.S. goods exports last year amounted to almost one-and-a-half trillion dollars.

Ranking and Reviewing America’s Top Dozen Exporting States Graphic

The background foreign trade data comes from the Census Bureau’s web-based site entitled USA Trade Online. While it’s relatively easy to open a free account, if one is not familiar with ‘pivot tables’, there is a bit of a learning curve to access the statistics.

The type-of-product designations follow the definitions in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

(1) Texas:

Texas, with export shipments of $264.1 billion and a 17.9% share of the nation’s total, was the leader among U.S. states for foreign sales in 2017. The NAICS category at the top of the Lone Star State’s exports list was ‘computer and electronic products’ ($47.0 billion), but close behind were ‘petroleum and coal products’ ($44.0 billion), ‘chemicals’ ($40.0 billion) and ‘oil and gas’ ($32.0). ‘Chemicals’ exports were dominated by synthetic rubber.

While Texas has a high level of computer-product exports, it would be more accurate to say that the State is especially strong in energy-product export sales. Energy products as a catch-all would combine refined petroleum (e.g., gasoline), chemicals, crude oil and natural gas for more than $100 billion.

In 2017, there were substantial increases in oil exports from Texas to China, Canada and South Korea. Other major customers for Texas crude last year were Mexico and Brazil.

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Spring 2018 Put-in-place Construction Forecasts for Canada

 
March 27th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

The historical records of Canada’s put-in-place capital spending numbers for residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and engineering construction are to be found in Statistics Canada’s on-line Cansim Tables 026-0013, 026-0016 and 029-0045.

Whereas construction ‘starts’ numbers are lump-sum figures entered at the time of groundbreaking, the ‘put-in-place’ data series are meant to mirror progress payments as projects proceed.

2018 03 26 Canada put in place construction forecasts Graphic

The history i n those previously mentioned Cansim Tables, however, currently stops at 2017. But there is another source for 2018 estimates – the non-residential Capital and Repair Expenditures (CARE) survey.

There’s a problem, though. The 2018 data from CARE is set out according to capital spending by industrial sectors. These is no re-arrangement of those amounts according to the five type-of-structure categories.

Read the rest of Spring 2018 Put-in-place Construction Forecasts for Canada

3 Maps Showing Q4 2017 versus Q4 2016 Construction Employment Change in American States

 
March 20th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

This article features three maps showing relative rates of change in total number of construction jobs year over year for U.S. States. The not-seasonally-adjusted (NSA) background data on employment comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The year-over-year (y/y) percentage calculation for each state, which enables a ranking (within ranges) from fastest to slowest, is the three-month number-of-jobs average for Q4 2017 versus the three-month number-of-jobs average for Q4 2016.

The ‘legend’ sets out the ranges. The U.S. national average construction jobs growth was +3.5%.

In the maps, states where the y/y increase in on-site jobs from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017 exceeded +3.5% are colored green. There are four shades of green progressing from lightest (jobs growth of +3.6% to +5.0%) to darkest (+10.1% and higher.)

States where the y/y change in on-site construction jobs was +3.5% or less are indicated by blue shading. The two deepest shades of blue denote states where the y/y change was 0.0% or negative.

  Read the rest of 3 Maps Showing Q4 2017 versus Q4 2016 Construction Employment Change in American States

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