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Posts Tagged ‘Economic’

A Composite Ranking of Job Markets in 50 U.S. and 33 Canadian Cities

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Trying to get a handle on the relative performances of city labor markets is complicated by the fact that strength and weakness in the two most important indicators – jobs growth and the unemployment rate – are the reverse of each other.

What’s most desirable is a high rather than a low employment growth figure. But with respect to a jobless number, the wish is for a low rather than a high number.

There is a relatively simple means to circumvent this problem. First, rank all the cities under consideration according to their year-over-year jobs growth, fastest to slowest. Then compile a second listing according to unemployment rates, smallest to biggest.

The third critical stage is to calculate the average ranking for each city from steps one and two and to use that new number to place them in order by their ‘composite’ ranking.

The results for the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S. are shown in Table 1. Table 2 is similar for Canada, showcasing the nation’s 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

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ConstructConnect’s December Starts Defied Seasonality With 3.4% Increase

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that December’s level of U.S. construction starts, excluding residential activity, was $24.0 billion, an increase of 3.4% versus the dollar volume in the period before. The gain, small though it may have been, was welcome nonetheless since November-to-December’s long-term average change, on account of inhibiting winter weather, has been -5.0%.

December of 2016, however, compared with December of 2015 was -5.6%. But it’s encouraging that total nonresidential starts for full year 2016 stayed ahead of full-year 2015 by +6.8%.

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 November report was 61%; the latter’s was 39%.

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., December 2016) is one month ahead of the reporting period for the investment series (i.e., November 2016.)

Canada’s Jobs Picture Improved Modestly in November

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

Canadian total employment in November rose by 11,000 jobs, according to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, marking a slowdown from the three prior months: October, +44,000; September, +67,000; and August, +27,000. July’s change was -32,000 jobs.

From January through November of last year, the average month-to-month gain in total employment in Canada was +12,000. For the same time frame this year, there has been an improvement to +15,000. If the economy were performing better, a figure closer to +20,000 per month would be expected.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 6.8% in the latest month from 7.0% in October. The decline is explained by a lower participation rate, which fell from 65.8% to 65.6%. In other words, a smaller percentage of the labour force was looking for work in November than in the month before.

There are some interesting differences in unemployment rates according to demographic groupings.

For all workers aged 25 to 54, the current jobless rate is lower for women (5.2%) than for men (6.3%).

For older individuals, − i.e., those aged 55-plus − the jobless-rate advantage held by women over men is even more pronounced, 4.7% compared with 6.6%.

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With Few Exceptions, U.S. Construction Material Costs Continue to Speak Softly

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

Table 1 accompanying this article sets out U.S. price movements for numerous construction materials from a variety of time markers in the past to the present (i.e., July 2016).

The data comes from the Producer Price Index (PPI) series calculated and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Graphs showing the history of the behind-the-scenes index figures on which the percentage changes in Table 1 are based also appear below.

Some of Table 1’s most significant shifts have been as follows.

The charge for softwood lumber in July of this year was +7.8% compared with six months earlier, but it was a more modest +3.0% when set next to July of 2015.
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Top 10 Largest Construction Project Starts in the U.S. – July 2016

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

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.
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Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – July 2016

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

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.

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Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – June 2016

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – June 2016 – ConstructConnect.com

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.
(more…)

A Dozen Mid-April Economic Nuggets

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

It may just be the calm before another storm, but the economic news seems to have quietened down quite a bit over the last little while. As for the political news, as both the Democrats and Republicans race towards their leadership conventions in a few months, that’s another story.

The pain in the oil sector on account of the deeply depressed price of crude is finally leading to some self-correcting courses of action. In the U.S. and Canada, capital spending plans have been slashed and production levels in the fracking sector significantly reduced. Internationally, Iran isn’t expected to ramp up export sales as quickly as once thought. And other OPEC members, including Saudi Arabia, appear intent on re-imposing a degree of control over their output levels.

The global price of oil may have found a floor near $40 USD per barrel. That’s a lot better than when it was nosediving towards $20. Furthermore, it will still provide car drivers, when they fill up, with gasoline charges that are pleasing bargains. Freeing up money so that it can be spent in other areas will prove especially important as the summer vacation season quickly arrives.

Against this backdrop, there are the following additional ‘nuggets’ to be gleaned from the latest government agency and private sector data releases. The ‘soil’ is rich and the ‘crop’ abundant.

(1) Let’s begin with CMD’s own construction starts statistics. Perhaps the most informative way to look at the numbers is to compare the year so far (i.e., through the first quarter, 2016) with the same time frame in 2015. On such a basis, grand total starts, in ‘current’ (i.e., not adjusted for inflation) dollars, were +7.4%, with major type-of-structure sub-categories performing as follows: residential, +3.7%; non-residential building, +11.8%; and heavy engineering, +5.8%.
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U.S. and Canadian City Long-term Home Start Trends – Proxy for Vitality Part 1

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

While practicing the ‘art’ of economics, sometimes the statistics just fall into your lap.

For example, heading into 2016, it was the consensus opinion among analysts that Ontario and British Columbia would have the best upcoming growth performances among Canada’s ten provinces.

Consequently, there were grins from ear to ear among my fraternity when March’s Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada showed Ontario with the largest year-over-year increase in jobs at +86,000, with British Columbia not far behind, at +72,000.

No other province was even close. In fact, the sum of Ontario and B.C., at +152,000, was greater than for the country as a whole, +130,000.

The material in this current Economy at a Glance continues in a similar vein. I’ve graphed the relatively long-term history of housing starts, from 1980 to the present, for the major cities in the U.S. and Canada and allowed Microsoft’s Excel to add a trend line.

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Applying the High-tech Wizardry of Sparklines to Economic Data

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

Yes, I’m an economist first, but in my secondary role as ‘tech whiz’ – my wife and kids would guffaw at that assertion – I’ve come across an exciting feature of standard Excel spreadsheets that I feel must be shared with you.

Of course, there’s always the danger that I’ve finally clued in to something everybody else has known about for years. However, I’ve asked around and it seems most people aren’t yet aware of a tool called ‘Sparklines’ that is highly worthwhile.

And neat and cool and easy to use.

Let’s suppose you have a ‘wall’ of data, such as appears in Table 1 that accompanies this Economy at a Glance. I’ve included the row numbers and column letters for ease of explanation.

The statistics in cells ‘C2’ diagonally to ‘O22’ are percent changes of U.S. put-in-place construction investment, latest 12-month averages versus previous 12-month averages.
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