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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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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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U.S. Put-in-Place Construction Spending Forecasts – Heading Into Winter 2017

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect is known for its ‘starts’ statistics and forecasts. Twice per year, however, − in early summer and late fall − ConstructConnect also calculates and publishes ‘put-in-place’ construction spending projections.

2017-12-04-US-Economy-Put-in-Place-Graphic

It helps that the ‘starts’ numbers are leading indicators for the PIP figures.

The history of PIP capital spending is compiled and published by the Census Bureau. A thorough explanation of the differences between ‘starts’ and ‘put-in-place’ is provided at the end of this article.

ConstructConnect is now estimating that ‘grand total’ U.S. put-in-place construction spending in 2017, expressed in ‘current’-dollar terms (i.e., not adjusted for inflation), will be $1.233 trillion.
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ConstructConnect’s YTD Starts +2% after May’s Rise of +5%

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that May construction starts, excluding residential activity, were +5% versus April. The modest rise fell a little short of the usual percentage change between April and May, due to seasonality, of +8%.

2017-06-12-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Starts-Apr-2017

Versus May of last year, nonresidential starts in the fifth month of this year were +2.0%.

Compared with January through May of last year, the year-to-date volume of starts in 2017 has been +1.9%.

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.

‘Nonresidential 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 April report was 56%; the latter’s was 44%.

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., May 2017) is one month ahead of the reporting period for the investment series (i.e., April 2017.)
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Top 10 Project Starts in the U.S. – May 2017

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

The accompanying table records the top 10 project starts in the U.S. for May 2017.

2017-06-12-Top-10-US-Projects-May-2017

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.

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Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – April 2017

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Clichés are often true and it is the case that a picture can be worth a thousand words.

2017-04-18-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Start-Trends-Mar-2017

Below are six graphs recording 12-month moving averages of ConstructConnect ’s nonresidential construction starts.

When the value of the current month is higher than for the same month a year ago, the line will turn up; when lower, it will dip.

String a couple of similar positive or negative directional changes together over several months and one has a trend.

And that’s what the graphs are designed to do, show improving or deteriorating trends in a dozen major and more granular categories of construction work. (more…)

ConstructConnect’s YTD Starts -2% after April Softens -7%

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that its April construction starts, excluding residential activity, were -7% versus March. The usual seasonal pattern is for a 12% increase month to month at this time of year, as blustery winter mellows into gentler spring.

April of this year compared with average April results over the prior five years, 2012-2016, was +17.6%. Year-to-date starts so far in 2017 have been -2% compared with the same first four months of last year.

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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ConstructConnect’s -2% February Starts Almost Hold Their Ground

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that February starts, excluding residential activity, nearly held their own versus an upwardly revised January. The latest month’s level of $26.2 billion was only -1.7% compared with the volume in the month before.

2017-03-21-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Starts-Feb-2017

Throughout the long-term history of the starts, there has been a typical drop – due to weather-related factors − of -2.5% between January and February. Harsh conditions in winter can put a halt to field work. February, however, is the last in a string of months during which starts tend to decline period-to-period on account of seasonality. From March through July, the tendency is for starts to pick up from one month to the next.

Starts in February 2017 versus what was an exceptionally strong February 2016 were -9.2%. Year-to-date starts in 2017 compared with January-to-February of last year were -7.5%.

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.

‘Nonresidential 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 January report was 60%; the latter’s was 40%.
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Washington Sets the Pace in Northern Atlantic Region

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

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.
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