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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 »

Mild Turbulence in U.S. and Canadian Labor Markets

 
October 16th, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

It’s not rocket science. There are a few key benchmarks to be aware of concerning U.S. and Canadian labor markets.

For the U.S. economy, a net jobs gain of 170,000 in any given month will be viewed as acceptable by most economists, analysts and pundits.

If the figure climbs to 200,000 or higher, their mood will elevate into a range from happy to ecstatic.

Below 170,000, doubts creep in. That’s why the Department of Labor’s September number of +143,000, combined with a downward revision of August’s level to +136,000, was met with such alarm, at first.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the news. But then another train of thought took over.
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The Sometimes Mysterious Sources for Put-in-place Construction Statistics in the U.S. and Canada

 
September 23rd, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

Obtaining data on put-in-place construction activity in the U.S. and Canada isn’t quite the straightforward path one might assume it to be.

(Put-in-place statistics are like ‘progress payments’ as projects proceed. They lag ‘starts’ information that essentially captures ‘shovels-in-the-ground’ activity.)

On balance, I’d say the U.S. put-in-place statistics are a little easier to find; plus they’re timelier.

Monthly seasonally-adjusted-at-annual-rate (SAAR) and not seasonally adjusted (NSA) numbers are published by the Census Bureau at the following site: http://www.census.gov/construction/c30/c30index.html.

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A Dozen Mid-September Economic Nuggets

 
September 17th, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

September 17 is fast approaching. In fact, by the time you read this, it may already have been and gone. Why is that date so important? Because that’€™s when the next Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve is scheduled to meet, with an announcement concerning interest rates to follow.

The federal funds rate hasn’€™t been altered from a range of 0.00% to 0.25% since December 16, 2008, nearly seven years ago. In mid-summer of this year, there seemed to be a strong likelihood the Fed would begin shifting yields higher in September. Then world stock markets fell into disarray as growth projections for China’€™s economy were scaled back and the yuan was devalued, slightly.

If the fed temporarily delays pulling the trigger out of concern over fragile world trade, the next FOMC meeting dates to mark on your calendar are October 28 and December 16 of this year and January 27 of 2016. Odds are pretty good that somewhere in that time frame, the fed will initiate tighter credit market action.

The Fed’€™s decision-making will take place against a backdrop that includes the following economic nuggets, as revealed in government reports and through media dissemination.
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Fascinating Statistics (for Canada, Saudi Arabia and Others) From the Latest U.S. Foreign Trade Report

 
September 10th, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

This Economy at a Glance examines the most interesting and surprising data from the latest U.S. foreign trade report.

(1) U.S. Oil Imports: Due to the rapid emergence of a domestic hydraulic fracturing industry, plus efficiency improvements and conservation-minded consumer behavior, there is nothing like the former U.S. energy-dependency with the rest of the world.

The steep drop in the global price of oil from a year ago, combined with some extreme exchange rate fluctuations, have rendered the dollar figures on U.S. energy trade confusing.

However, ‘Exhibit 17a’, in July’s publication, released jointly by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), presents the data in ‘barrels’.

‘Barrels’ as a volume measurement carry the same constant-valued connotation as ‘units’ for both housing starts and motor vehicle sales and ‘square footage’ for construction activity.

Year to date, through July of this year, Canada − by a considerable margin − accounted for the largest proportion of U.S. crude oil imports (41.2%). (Keep in mind that this has been without a go-ahead for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion.)
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As Fall Approaches, Key Aspects of The U.S. and Canadian Construction Outlooks

 
August 24th, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

Yes, there are ongoing caveats concerning the U.S. economy – a disproportionate number of part-time as opposed to full-time jobs; high levels of student debt; the psychological hangover of recession-era foreclosures in the housing market; etc. Nevertheless, proof of greater strength is everywhere.

The bellwether initial jobless claims figure has been below 300,000 for 24 weeks in a row. This proxy measure for layoffs, during the week ending July 18, fell to its lowest level since 1973, when total employment was nothing like as high as it is now.

In both June and July of this year, total housing starts in America climbed above 1.2 million units (annualized) for the first time since before the recession. This was the logical result of residential building permits bettering 1.3 million units (annualized) in June.

And the almighty ‘greenback’ has become even more powerful, soaring above every other major currency, mostly by percentage changes that are in double-digits-plus.

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A Dozen Mid-August Economic Nuggets

 
August 17th, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

Who can doubt that there’s an exchange-rate war underway? Almost all the world’s currencies have fallen to one degree or another versus the U.S. ‘greenback’. One of the few hold-outs, until recently, was China. Now, even Beijing has stepped back from parity.

The cries of alarm, though, have been overblown. If the yuan’s reduction doesn’t stray significantly from -2%, it won’t play a huge role in promoting China’s exports. To site an example from the retail sector, nobody ever holds a sale announcing that prices have been ‘slashed’ by 2%. If the slide continues and reaches -10%, that’ll be another story.

Since most commodities are priced in U.S. dollars, they will become slightly more expensive for Chinese buyers. This is another knock against owning the shares of companies engaged in supplying raw materials at this time. A deeper concern, though is what this says about the state of China’s economy. An output growth rate that was once 10% to 12% has slowed to a range of 6% to 7%. And that’s if China’s ‘official’ statistics are to be believed.

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AECCafe to exhibit at the 2015 AIA Convention and record video interviews

 
April 27th, 2015 by Sanjay Gangal

We are exhibiting at the 2015 AIA Convention in Atlanta on May 14-15 at our booth #2878 and we are recording video interviews at our booth. Let me know if you want to book a 15-minute time slot for you or someone from your firm. Interview opportunities are open to all attendees, architects, and exhibitors.

You can see past interviews here.

Come by our booth to say hello even if you don’t want to record an interview. We are doing a raffle for a KindleFire and you are most welcome to drop in your business card for a chance to win it.

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FARO Acquires Complementary Software Companies

 
March 6th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

As we said a little over a month ago, we have witnessed the ongoing and perpetual consolidation of the CAD/CAM industry as companies continue to get swallowed up by others.

We’ve witnessed CAD companies acquiring CAD/CAM companies, simulation companies acquiring CAD companies, and other types of technical software and service companies acquiring CAD/CAM companies. With all the attention seemingly focused on the CAD/CAM side, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there also has been a significant consolidation through acquisition on other sides of technical software as well over the past several years. In other words, with these other acquisitions technical software circles of all types continue to get smaller.

This time around its 3D scanning giant, FARO Technologies, and its recent acquisitions of kubit (AEC point cloud processing software) and ARAS 360 (crime reconstruction/forensic software). Founded in 1981, FARO Technologies Inc. develops and markets portable 3D measurement systems for computer-aided manufacturing measurement.

FARO Focus 3D Laser Scanner

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The Future of How Visualizations Are Made: Real-time Exploration of Design Data

 
January 15th, 2015 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: Autodesk

This is a presentation from the 2014 Autodesk University.

 

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Technology Trends with Dell, HP, and Intel: Hosted by Lynn Allen

 
January 14th, 2015 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: Autodesk

Description

Join AU’s own Lynn Allen for a candid conversation with technologists from Dell, HP, and Intel. Learn how new and emerging technologies are affecting and enhancing the way we work with Autodesk® design and creation suites, and more.

Key Learning

  • Hear near-term technology predictions from technologists from leading companies
  • Learn how leading technology companies approach workstations, cloud computing, mobility, innovation, the Internet of things and big data, and 3D printing

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