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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Carrick’

12 Mid-May Economic Nuggets With an Emphasis on Mega Projects

Friday, May 18th, 2018

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

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

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

Friday, May 4th, 2018

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

Monday, April 16th, 2018

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

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

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

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

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.

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ConstructConnect’s February 2018 Starts -8.4% Versus Prior Five-Year Average

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that February’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential activity, was $23.6 billion. The latest month-to-month change in the volume of starts, at -24.3%, was more than the usual mild drop from January to February due to seasonality.

2018-03-19-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Starts-February-2018

February of this year relative to February of last year was -35.5%. The level of starts in February 2017, however, was unusually high, $36.6 billion. Comparing February of this year with the average for February in the preceding five years (2013 to 2017), the change was -8.4%. February of this year versus the average for the four years 2013 to 2016 (i.e., omitting 2017) was +2.4%.

Year-to-date nonresidential starts in 2018 have been -26.4% versus January-February of 2017. The first-two-months of this year versus the comparable period in 2016 was a less severe slide of -3.2%.

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 January report was 60%; the latter’s share was 40%.

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., February 2018) is one month ahead of the reporting period for the investment series (i.e., January 2018.)

Over the past four months, jobs growth in construction has been surging. From November 2017 through January 2018, the month-to-month employment pickups were +42,000, +42,000 and +40,000 respectively. February’s result was a further quickening of the pace, +61,000. The combined four-month gain in construction hiring has been +185,000 jobs. The last time there was such a substantial four-month increase was from January to April 2006, +193,000. In 2006, though, there was a homebuilding boom, fueled by subprime mortgages, that turned into a bust.

Total construction employment is still half a million jobs below its prior peak in 2007, before the onset of the Great Recession. That gap will likely be eliminated quickly. According to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. construction sector is generating jobs at a year-over-year rate (+3.7%) that is more than twice as fast as for all workers in the economy (+1.6%). The unemployment rate in the sector in the latest February was 7.8%. Twelve months ago, it had been 8.8%. The jobless figure is traditionally worse in winter.

The Employment Situation report also includes jobs results for three other sectors with close ties to construction. Employment with ‘real estate’ offices in February was +1.7% year over year; with ‘building material and garden supply stores’, +3.9%; and with ‘architectural and engineering services’ firms, +3.3%. Since designers must provide assembly instructions before projects can proceed, their +3.3% staffing increase suggests ongoing healthy construction activity.
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3 Maps Showing 2017 versus 2016 Housing Starts in American States

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

The three maps in this infographic focus attention on the 2017-over-2016 percentage changes in homebuilding activity in America’s states. The Census Bureau does not publish home starts statistics at the state level, but it does compile and release residential permits numbers.

3 Maps Showing 2017 versus 2016 Housing Starts in American States Graphic

Therefore, the shadings in the maps are based on permits data (in units). The words ‘permits’ and ‘starts’ will be used interchangeably in the following commentary.

The total number of new home permits in the U.S. in 2017 was +6% compared with 2016. As the ‘legend-key’ sets out, individual states with percentage increases over +6% are shaded in green − for warmth.

As the shading moves from lighter green to darker green, the percentage increases move higher.

States shaded in blue − for chillier − had year-over-year increases that were +6% or less. The darkest shades of blue are reserved for states where there were significant 2017-over-2016 declines.

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Construction Material Costs – Latest PPI, IPPI and RMPI Results, U.S. and Canada

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

When assessing building material cost changes, the primary source for the U.S. is the Producer Price Index (PPI) data series calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (The BLS is also responsible for the Consumer Price Index.)

2017-05-05-US-Canada-PPI-Graphic

For Canada, one turns to the Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) and Raw Materials Price Index (RMPI) data series from Statistics Canada.

While the history of the latest PPI numbers (Table 1) extends to January 2018, the IPPI and RMPI figures (Table 2) are currently available only through December 2017.

The PPI results include specific findings for ‘final demand construction’ (i.e., overall construction) as well as private capital versus government investment, plus five specific type-of-structure sub-categories.

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Ten Mid-February Economic Nuggets – With a Focus on Inflation Fears

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

At the beginning of February, there was a great deal of volatility in the U.S. major stock market indices. They fell into ‘correction’ territory, which in ‘market-talk’ means they dropped by 10% from their peaks, before steadying and heading cautiously upwards again.

Ten Mid-February Economic Nuggets Graphic

Some of the initial downward movement was due to profit-taking, on the heels of years of exceptional equity price gains. As the retreat grew more severe, however, it became harder to explain, especially since the recently passed tax cuts will provide an extra boost to corporate bottom lines.

A consensus explanation gradually emerged and it goes as follows. Yes, the economy is growing rapidly and job creation is outstanding. But maybe output growth and labor market conditions are too good. The level of unemployment has dropped near a historical low. Can wage restraint hold? Furthermore, there is a synchronous world expansion underway and commodities demand is heating up. Prices for key raw materials are climbing once again.

All these developments have the potential to light a fire under inflation. And if inflation is on the rise, the Federal Reserve may feel the need to initiate ‘cooling’ interest rate hikes faster than earlier anticipated. Some economic forecasting firms are already projecting there will be four, not three, interest rate increases this year.

Therefore, perhaps the hottest topic for discussion throughout 2018 will be how inflation is performing. Specifically, is the ‘Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U)’ busting free from its +2.0% (year over year) bondage and raising more havoc?

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