The accompanying table records the 10 largest construction project starts in the U.S. in July 2016.
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 job-site 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. (more…)
The accompanying tables rank seven major cities along America’s northern Atlantic coastline according to eight demographic and economic criteria. In the ‘overall’ listing that appears at the end of this article, Washington comes out best and Philadelphia worst. To reach those conclusions, however, it has been necessary to journey through the following data sets.
Population size: It’s no surprise that New York (20.2 million) is number one in terms of population size. Washington and Philadelphia (both with 6.1 million) are virtually tied for second. Across the U.S. as a whole, the population of Los Angeles (13.3 million) is not as big a step back from ‘The Big Apple’ as one might suppose.
Population change: With respect to population change, measured as the average annual growth rate over the latest two years for which statistics are available, Washington (+1.12%) is on top, followed by Richmond (+1.00%). New York (+0.47%) is in the middle and Philadelphia (+0.28%) and Providence (+0.25%) are barely making any headway at all.
Housing Starts: Residential building permits, as compiled by the Census Bureau and readily made available at the website of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), serve as the equivalent of new home starts for cities in the U.S. Through May of this year, New York (14,582 units) has been the leader in the number of residential building permits issued. Washington (10,937) has placed second. Providence hasn’t even exceeded 1,000-units. (more…)
CMD announced today that January’s level of U.S. construction starts, excluding residential work, was $24.7 billion, an increase of 9.8% versus December. The nearly double-digit percentage increase was noteworthy since there is usually (i.e., average over 10-years-plus) a December-to-January decline, due to seasonality, of 8.5%.
Compared with January of 2015, the latest month’s starts level was +12.9%. Relative to average non-residential starts in January over the preceding five years, 2011 to 2015, the gain was +18.6%.
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.
‘Non-residential building’ plus ‘engineering/civil’ work accounts for a considerably larger share of total construction than residential activity. The former’s combined proportion of total put-in-place construction in the Census Bureau’s December report was 63%; the latter’s was 37%. (more…)
Following up on the subject of Canadian construction material costs, this Economy at a Glance concentrates on seven graphs.
Graph 1: Softwood lumber prices in Canada rose rapidly throughout 2012, but over the past three years, they have stayed mainly flat. The U.S.-Canada softwood lumber agreement (SLA), after being in effect for nine years, was allowed to expire in October of last year.
Participants in Canada wanted to see continuation of the SLA under the same terms as originally negotiated. The U.S. industry has been wishing for a re-calibration of provisions.
Under the SLA, quotas and/or export taxes were to be imposed on Canadian producers when prices fell below a benchmark range. Individual provinces were allowed to choose their own form of regulation. Additional disputes were argued on several occasions before the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA).
Without the SLA, as shown by the long history of contentious wrangling prior to its 2006 implementation, there is considerable potential for legal action that will disrupt North American lumber markets. (more…)
The cost of construction is largely determined by labor and material inputs.
The previous Economy at a Glance studied U.S. year-over-year average hourly wages in construction relative to all private sector jobs and other major industries.
Expanding the analysis somewhat, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in its monthly Employment Situation report, publishes four series on wage rates. Table B3 records average hourly and average weekly earnings for all employees in a range of industries. Table B8 has similar average hourly and weekly earnings information, but only for production and non-supervisory personnel.
For construction, the December 2015 year-over-year results were +2.9% (average hourly) and +4.2% (average weekly) from Table B3 and +2.7% (average hourly) and +3.3% (average weekly) from Table B8.
To summarize, the earnings results for construction ranged from +2.7% to +4.2% annually.
At the end of 2010, the unemployment rate in the United States was 9.3%.
Five years later, as of December 2015, the national jobless figure has been cut nearly in half, to stand at 5.0%.
There’s a common lament being heard that the tightening in U.S. labor markets has been overstated because a large bloc of potential workers has given up hunting for a job.
Furthermore, so the argument goes, whatever employment improvement has happened isn’t yet leading to better wages and salaries and the economy won’t really build up a head of steam until workers are being paid more, so they can spend more.
This Economy at a Glance will look at the percentage changes of year-over-year average hourly earnings for both production and supervisory workers in the private sector as a whole, and for major industrial sectors. Historical data can be readily downloaded from the web site of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In the hopes of finding trend lines, the analysis in this EAAG will be limited to the past five years.