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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: U.S. Rail & Rapid Ttransit Projects

 
December 20th, 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 U.S. rail and rapid transit projects.

Infographic: U.S. rail & rapid transit projects

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.

Read the rest of Infographic: U.S. Rail & Rapid Ttransit Projects

13 Mid-December Economic Nuggets

 
December 17th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

The tail that is attempting to wag the dog these days is the stock market. With only two weeks remaining in 2018, America’s major stock market indices have moved, at best, sideways versus close-of-year 2017. The Dow Jones Industrial Index (DJI) is currently -0.5% relative to its closing level on December 31 of last year. The S&P 500 is -0.9% and NASDAQ, -2.4%.

13 Mid-December Economic Nuggets Graphic

North of the border, the Toronto Stock Exchange is -9.0% compared with year-end 2017.

The FANG stocks have been leading the retreat in equity prices. Since the summer of this year, the share price of Facebook, which has experienced confidentiality problems galore, is -29.2%; Amazon, the retail sector’s ‘disruptor-in-chief’, is -19.9%; Netflix is -34.1%; and Google/Alphabet, -16.2%. Even Apple has moved out of favor, -26.3%. On August 2nd, Apple became the world’s first trillion-dollar company, but of course that valuation no longer stands.

The Federal Reserve has been paying attention. Earlier, the Chairman of the Fed was adamant that he wanted to see the federal funds rate return to its ‘equilibrium’ or neutral level of 3.00%. Neutrality is when prevailing interest rates are neither too stimulatory nor too contractionary.

The current level of the federal funds rate is in a range of 2.00% to 2.25%. The likelihood is still high there will be another 25 basis-point (where 100 basis points equals 1.00%) increase later in this month of December. The schedule for next year, however, is no longer as firmly established. Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, has stated that future action on interest rates will be ‘data driven’.

By the way, the stock markets also really don’t like the tariff skirmish with China. Whenever there is even a hint of a resolution of that dispute, investors respond ecstatically.

Read the rest of 13 Mid-December Economic Nuggets

Top 10 Project Starts in the U.S. – November 2018

 
December 14th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

The accompanying table records the top 10 project starts in the U.S. for November 2018.

2018-12-12-Top-10-US-Projects-November-2018

There are several reasons for highlighting upcoming large projects. Such jobs have often received a fair amount of media coverage. Therefore, people in the industry are on the lookout for when jobsite work actually gets underway. And, as showcase projects, they highlight geographically where major construction projects are proceeding.

Also, total construction activity is comprised of many small and medium-sized projects and a limited number of large developments. But the largest projects, simply by their nature, can dramatically affect total dollar and square footage volumes. In other words, the timing and size of these projects have an exaggerated influence on market forecasts.

Read the rest of Top 10 Project Starts in the U.S. – November 2018

Rough Patch for Nonresidential Starts in November, But YTD Decline Remained Modest

 
December 13th, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that November’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential work, was $27.4 billion, the lowest level since February ($26.6 billion) of this year.

2018-12-12-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Starts-November-2018

On a month-to-month basis, November’s nonresidential starts fell by nearly one-quarter (-22.6%). The usual seasonal pullback, due to harsher winter-onset weather, is in a range of -2% to -7%. November 2018 compared with November 2017 was -9.8%. November 2018 relative to the previous five-year average for November, − i.e., from 2013 through 2017, − was +0.9%.

Year-to-date starts in 2018 compared with January-to-November of 2017 have been -4.0%. There is only one month still to go, December, before 2018’s annual results will be tabulated.

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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‘Nonresidential building’ plus ‘engineering/civil’ work accounts for a larger share of total construction than residential activity. The former’s combined proportion of total put-in-place construction in the Census Bureau’s October report was 59%; the latter’s was 41%.

ConstructConnect’s construction starts are leading indicators for the Census Bureau’s capital investment or put-in-place series. Also, the reporting period for starts (i.e., November 2018) is one month ahead of the reporting period for the investment series (i.e., October 2018.)
Read the rest of Rough Patch for Nonresidential Starts in November, But YTD Decline Remained Modest

November Jobs Creation: U.S. +155,000; Canada +94,000

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

Article source: ConstructConnect

There was a dramatic reversal in fortune on the jobs front between the U.S. and Canada in November.

November Jobs Creation: U.S. +155,000; Canada +94,000 Graphic

It wasn’t that the U.S. number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was so bad. At +155,000, it slowed from +237,000 the month before, but it was still a solid increase.

Rather, it was that Canada set a blistering pace. Statistics Canada’s figure of +94,000 jobs was the biggest monthly increase in more than six-and-a-half years, dating back to March 2012 (also +94,000).

Canada’s unemployment rate in November improved to 5.6%, the lowest it’s been in more than 40 years.

America’s unemployment rate stayed the same in November as in October, but keep in mind that the current level of 3.7% is the tightest in almost 50 years.

Canada may have had a better November than the U.S., but for year-to-date 2018, it’s been the latter that has been vastly outperforming the former.

U.S. monthly average jobs creation so far this year has been +206,000, +12.7% above last year’s comparable figure of +183,000.

Canada’s monthly average jobs bump to date in 2018 has been only +14,000, -58% versus January-November 2017’s climb of +33,000.

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Construction Jobs Regionally by Level and Change, U.S. and Canada

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

Tables 1 through 3 accompanying this article detail the latest (October 2018) statistics on construction employment regionally in the U.S. and Canada.

Construction Jobs Regionally by Level and Change, U.S. and Canada Graphic

Table 1 is a ranking of states, D.C. and Puerto Rico for the U.S. and provinces and territories for Canada by construction employment levels.

Table 2 is a ranking of states, D.C. and Puerto Rico for the U.S. and provinces and territories for Canada according to year-over-year (y/y) nominal changes in construction employment levels.

Table 3 is a ranking of states, D.C. and Puerto Rico for the U.S. and provinces and territories for Canada by y/y percentage changes in number of construction jobs.

With respect to number of construction jobs (Table 1), the four most populous states in America are the frontrunners. California (874,000) is in first place, followed by Texas (774,000), Florida (553,000) and New York (415,000).

After New York, there’s a sizable step down to fifth-place Pennsylvania (266,000).

There are six other states with construction levels exceeding 200,000 – Illinois (243,000); Ohio (238,000); North Carolina (222,000); Washington (218,000); Georgia (+207,000); and Virginia (206,000).

(By the way, how populous are California, Texas, N.Y. and Florida? Combined, they account for the residences of one out of every three Americans.)
Read the rest of Construction Jobs Regionally by Level and Change, U.S. and Canada

Maps – Georgia Best and New Jersey Worst for Construction Jobs Growth

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

Article source: ConstructConnect

The latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records that the U.S. construction sector’s unemployment rate in October was 3.6%, lower than the national ‘headline’ rate of 3.7% for all jobs in the economy.

Uneven Recovery in U.S. Construction Jobs, Residential versus Nonresidential Graphic

Since 3.7% as the national jobless level was a nearly 50-year low, for construction to have done even better was an outstanding achievement.

Also, for October 2018, the BLS calculated that construction workers’ year-over-year (y/y) wage gains were ‘richer’ than for all jobs (i.e., not just construction, but manufacturing and all manner of services work), both hourly (+4.2% versus +3.2%) and weekly (+4.5% versus +3.2%).

Read the rest of Maps – Georgia Best and New Jersey Worst for Construction Jobs Growth

Big October U.S. Jobs Gain Has Fed Interest Rate Implications; Meanwhile, Canada Quiet on the Jobs Front

 
November 2nd, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

According to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the total number of jobs in the U.S. in October rose by 250,000, an outstanding gain.

Big October U.S. Jobs Gain Graphic

Because the participation increased slightly, from 62.7% in September to 62.9% in October (i.e., more people re-entered the work force), the unemployment rate stayed the same as the month before, at 3.7%.

What’s important to remember, though, is that a 3.7% American jobless figure is a 50-year low.

According to the latest Labour Force Survey results published by Statistics Canada, total employment north of the border in October bobbed up by a relatively anemic 11,000 jobs.

Read the rest of Big October U.S. Jobs Gain Has Fed Interest Rate Implications; Meanwhile, Canada Quiet on the Jobs Front

2 Leading Monitors of U.S. Construction Activity, 1 Public and 1 Private – Fall 2018

 
October 2nd, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

In 2017, as calculated by the Census Bureau, total U.S. put-in-place construction activity was +4.5% year over year (y/y), with all the strength coming from residential, +12.2%, since nonresidential work was a little worse than flat, -0.5%. (‘Put-in-place’ as a concept captures work-in-process or progress payments as projects proceed.)

Over the past five years, 2013 through 2017, the annual total of U.S. put-in-place construction has averaged +8.0% y/y, led by exceptional growth in residential, +14.0%, with nonresidential doing okay, +4.5%, but not shattering any records.

The latest data from the Census Bureau, for August 2018, shows year-to-date results (i.e., versus the first eight months of last year) being +5.2% for total; +6.5% for residential; and +4.3% for nonresidential, +4.3%.

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With U.S. Tariffs on Chinese ‘Parts’, Advantage Goes to Canada in Auto Sector Investments

 
September 21st, 2018 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: ConstructConnect

The Trump Administration in Washington has recently imposed $200 billion in tariffs on imports from China. Included in those new duty assessments are auto parts.

This action, along with another key development in Mexico, has introduced a strange twist into the dynamics of where, in North America, motor vehicle assemblers may wish to carry out future capital spending.

Read the rest of With U.S. Tariffs on Chinese ‘Parts’, Advantage Goes to Canada in Auto Sector Investments

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