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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 »

Manufacturing and Construction Both Winners in U.S. July Jobs Report

 
August 3rd, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Article source: ConstructConnect

The lead paragraph of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s July Employment Situation  report highlights that total nonfarm payroll employment in the U.S. rose by 157,000 jobs during the latest month.

U.S. July Jobs Report Graphic

And that the unemployment rate declined again to 3.9% from 4.0% in June. The lowest the unemployment rate has reached in this cycle was 3.8% two months ago, in May.

Historically, the U.S. unemployment rate never falls much lower. The last time it was 3.8% was in April of 2000. Eighteen years have passed since then.

The seasonally adjusted (SA) unemployment rate through the first seven months of this year has averaged 4.0%. During the same time frame of last year, it was 4.5%.
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Disconnect Between High-tech’s Influence and the High-tech Sector’s Jobs Creation

 
August 1st, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Article source: ConstructConnect

Computers, the Internet and other high-tech advances have profoundly affected the workaday lives of every one of us.

Many of the thought-leaders who have sparked the innovation waves have become celebrities beyond the confines of the business sector. And their companies have been richly rewarded through enormous increases in the value of their shares on the major stock markets.

Never mind that Netflix and Facebook have recently had some setbacks, the FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google), along with many others (Twitter, Uber), have soared in value over the past decade-plus.

We’ve been living through a new industrial revolution. But there has long been one quibble raised by economists and others about these transformative times.

Historically, the birth of the auto industry, with its accompanying need for assembly plants, steel mills and gasoline stations, generated millions of new jobs.
Read the rest of Disconnect Between High-tech’s Influence and the High-tech Sector’s Jobs Creation

July 2018 issue based on June starts statistics. 1st half 2018 results.

 
July 13th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that June’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential activity, was $39.8 billion – a month-to-month change of -24.7%. The one-quarter drop was not due to market conditions. Rather, the comparison of June versus May suffered from the latter including Foxconn Technology’s $10 billion industrial plant in Wisconsin. June relative to May exclusive of that single mega project was still down, but by only -7.2%. The historical May-to-June change, aided by favorable ‘seasonality’, has been +4.5%.

2018-07-11-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Starts-June-2018

June 2018 versus the same month of last year was -6.3%. June 2018 versus the five-year average for June, from 2013 through 2017, was +3.2%.

Year-to-date starts in 2018, compared with first half (H1) 2017 starts, have been -5.5%.

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.


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Read the rest of July 2018 issue based on June starts statistics. 1st half 2018 results.

U.S. June Total Jobs Higher by One-quarter Million Versus Previously Reported May

 
July 6th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

June’s Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records a pickup in total jobs of +213,000 in the latest month.

U.S. June Jobs Report Graphic

But that +213,000 compares June’s level of total jobs with a revised figure for May. May’s figure is now being estimated higher by +37,000 vis à vis what was reported for May a month ago.

Therefore, June’s level of total U.S. jobs is now +250,000 (i.e., the sum of 213,000 and 37,000) versus what was reported by the BLS a month ago. That’s an increase in total employment of a quarter of a million jobs.

The gain in U.S. total employment through the first half of this year has been 1.3 million jobs. In H1 of last year, the increase was 1.1 million.

The monthly average climb so far in 2018 has been +215,000. Through the first six months of 2017, the monthly average increment was also good, but it was a somewhat lower +184,000.

Expressed another way, the monthly average jobs jump in first-half of 2018 has been +17% compared with the first-half of 2017.

The unemployment rate in June fell back slightly to 4.0% from 3.8% in May. The retreat was because the continuation of strong employment prospects has caused a month-to-month uptick in the participation rate, to 62.9% from 62.7%.

Among industrial sub-sectors, the three standouts for jobs improvement in June were: ‘education and health services’, +54,000; ‘professional and business services’, +50,000; and in a long-time-coming and pleasantly-welcome development, ‘manufacturing’, +36,000.

The leap in manufacturing employment was almost all within the durable goods realm, +32,000.

And within durable goods, hiring was most intense in ‘motor vehicles and parts’, +12,000; ‘fabricated metal products’, +7,000; and ‘computer and electronic products’, +5,000.

The +54,000 jog upwards in ‘educational and health services’ employment was comprised of ‘educational services’, +19,000; ‘health care’, +25,000; and ‘social assistance’, +10,000.

Staffing in ‘professional and business services’ (+50,000) received boosts from ‘temporary help services’, +9,000; ‘architectural and engineering services’, +7,000; and ‘computer systems design and related design’, +6,000.

Read the rest of U.S. June Total Jobs Higher by One-quarter Million Versus Previously Reported May

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

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.

Read the rest of 12 Mid-May Economic Nuggets With an Emphasis on Mega Projects

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.


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

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.

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

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