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Top 10 Project Starts in the U.S. – March 2017

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

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

2017-04-18-Top-10-US-Projects-Mar-2017
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Springy Bounce in ConstructConnect’s March Starts, +18%

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

ConstructConnect announced today that March construction starts, excluding residential activity, were +17.8 versus February. The long-term February-to-March advance, due to seasonality, has been only +2.5%. It’s usually not until April that more accommodating weather causes a big lift in volume of about +12.0%. Spring has apparently come early for groundbreakings this year.

2017-04-18-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Starts-Mar-2017
March 2017 versus what was an exceptionally buoyant March 2016 did not fare as well, -5.9%. And year-to-date starts (Q1 2017) have been -5.1% versus January-to-March 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.

‘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 February report was 60%; the latter’s 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., March 2017) is one month ahead of the reporting period for the investment series (i.e., February 2017.)

View this information as an infographic.
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Top 10 Project Starts in the U.S. – February 2017

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

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

2017-03-21-Top-10-US-Projects-Feb-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.

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Nonresidential Construction Starts Trend Graphs – February 2017

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

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

2017-03-21-US-Nonresidential-Construction-Start-Trends-Feb-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.
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A Dozen Mid-March Economic Nuggets

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Further big improvements in America’s labor market statistics at the beginning of this year – with net new jobs creation climbing by almost half a million (+473,000) and the unemployment rate falling to a tight 4.7% − have convinced many analysts that the Federal Reserve will be acting quite aggressively in 2017 to hike interest rates. Where before there was an expectation that the federal funds rate would be lifted two or three times through December, by 25 basis points on each occasion (with 100 basis points equaling 1.00%), the consensus now is for an upward adjustment more frequently, either three or four times.

The Fed is probably hoping to attain, in easy-to-absorb stages over this year and next, a key policy-setting rate close to 3.00%. Nor are stock markets viewing such a prospect with anything like the same amount of dread as in the not so distant past. Share prices have been on a roll that has taken them to all-time highs.

Canada’s most recent employment report had a bottom line figure that wasn’t particularly outstanding (i.e., net new jobs of +15,000 in February), but included in the detail was an impressive increase in full-time staffing (+105,000), with most of the gain (+84,000) coming among what are termed ‘core-aged’ women (i.e., females 25-to-54 years of age).
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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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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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Ten Mid-May Economic Nuggets

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

The U.S. and Canadian economies appear to have entered a ‘blah’ stretch. In April, U.S. total employment rose by 160,000 jobs, a tepid figure compared with the previous two months (i.e., +208,000 in March and +233,000 in February). The unemployment rate, though, stayed the same as in March, at a tight 5.0%.

The latest U.S. initial jobless claims figure shot up to 294,000 for the week ending May 7. Only four weeks prior, it had been as low as 248,000. The most recent 294,000 number does extend the streak of beating 300,000 for more than a year. If that’s ever been done before, it was way back in the early 1970s. But 294,000 is now cutting it close. It doesn’t permit much wiggle room. The foreheads of some economists are beginning to show worry lines.

Canada’s jobs pool shrank by 3,000 in April, although again the unemployment rate stayed on a par with the month before, at 7.1%. Total employment in Canada is presently +0.8% year over year, which is less than half the U.S. rate of increase, +1.9%. Specifically for the construction sector, on-site employment in the U.S., at +4.1% year over year, is significantly outpacing Canada’s +1.4%.

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) Where are the jobs of the future? With an aging population, on account of the post-World War II baby boom generation moving half-way and further down the hall of life, providing expanded and personalized health care is becoming more critical. Consider the following percentage changes. While the year-over-year increase in total employment in the U.S. economy in April was +1.8%, the jobs climb at hospitals was +4.0%; at assisted living facilities for the elderly, +4.1%; and in home health care, +6.1%.

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15 Eye-Catching Charts that Highlight Trends in Canada and U.S. Jobs (Part 3)

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

In Part 3 of this Economy at a Glance, we’ll conclude our examination of how certain key sectors of the Canadian and U.S. economies are performing, as captured by the slopes of their jobs graphs.

As stated in Part 1, whether or not employment is on the upswing can give a pretty good indication of which way firms in a particular sector are leaning in terms of investment spending (which may be limited to machinery and equipment) or construction projects.

The underlying data for the U.S. and Canada comes from surveys of employers. A significant point of difference is that the U.S. numbers are seasonally adjusted, while for Canada, they are moving 12-month averages of not seasonally adjusted (NSA) figures, placed in the latest month.

Some of the charts in Parts 1 and 2 grabbed one by the neck-tie and demanded that attention be paid. In Part 3, while subdued by comparison, they still offer much that is informative.

Canada Elementary and Secondary Schools (Graph 11): Demographics as a driver of elementary and secondary school attendance, and by extension new construction, is currently quite positive. The number of children in the relevant age cohort from 4 to 17, after declining from 2000 to the present, is now set to begin increasing again in fairly dramatic fashion, out to at least the mid-2030s.

Canada Community Colleges (Graph 12): The ‘community college’ category includes Quebec’s C.E.G.E.P.s (Collèges d’enseignement general et professionnel). Employment in colleges in Canada has flattened since the mid-point of 2010. Due to the fact the age-specific demographic drivers for colleges are mostly the same as for universities, both will be covered in the next section.

Canada Universities (Graph 13): Take what was said for elementary and secondary schools and turn it upside down. The primary age-relevant cohort for college and university enrolments is 18 to 26. While the population count for that faction in society has risen steadily during the 16 years since the start of the new millennium to the present, a tumble will be occurring from this point in time moving forward until about the middle of the 2020s.

Employment in universities has been exhibiting a gentler upward slope in the latest two-and-a-half years. The best hope for this branch of academia may reside in older adults and retired seniors returning to classrooms for re-training, skills upgrades and the general thrill of the learning experience. The latter may lead to a second degree in a beloved subject that was put on the back burner during the raise-a-family and bring-home-the-bacon years.

Canada Hospitals (Graph 14): In the U.S., employment in hospitals has followed a bumpy pathway since the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010. Not so in Canada, which has a long history of universal health care.

As Graph 14 so ably illustrates, there’s been nary a setback in the upward progression of the jobs level at Canada’s hospitals over the past dozen or so years. Not even during the Great Recession.

And now the federal government is planning a big boost to spending on socially- and ecologically-conscious infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. Hospital boards will be rejoicing and hospital workers will see their ranks swell.

U.S. Temporary Help Services (Graph 15):  For three to four years following the 2008-2009 ‘Big Dip’ in the U.S. economy, the stirrings of employment re-birth were most apparent in the ‘temporary help services’ sub-sector jobs category. Graph 15 highlights how steeply inclined the curve was in 2010 through 2012.

The logic flows easily. Employers, shaken by the severity of the preceding precipitous plunge and worried that the recovery might not last, were quick to hire part-time workers to satisfy any increases in orders for goods or services that might come their way.

As the improving business conditions became more prolonged, this stop-gap measure ran its course and was replaced with hiring policies more favorable towards full-time positions.

Now, with the unemployment rate at only 5.0%, the need to make job offerings attractive (i.e., through benefits, pensions, etc.) has become essential.

Still, there are analysts who point to the apparent flattening, of late, in the ‘temporary help services’ curve as conveying a forewarning of harsher times pending, perhaps leading to the onset of a new recession.

The argument is as follows. Some employers are beginning to experience more challenging business conditions once again and their response has been to dismiss part-time staff. From an administrative standpoint, and perhaps even an emotional one, such a course of action is a lot easier than downsizing supposedly permanent workers.

The foregoing seems to be a lot of weight to attach to a relatively small correction in the graph.

But if one believes in being ever-vigilant, then it’s a theory worth tagging and remembering.

15 Eye-Catching Charts that Highlight Trends in Canada and U.S. Jobs (Part 1)

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Article source: CMDGroup

Note: The graphs (‘New Graphs’ and ‘Canada Graphs’ tabs in excel file) are integral to the article, but the text is actually standalone.

There’s a diversity of ways to assess the strength of an industry within the broader context of the overall economy. Stock market investors prefer to look at profit levels and price-earnings ratios. Financial institutions focus on debt and cash flow. Economists often choose jobs levels.

Whether or not employment is on the upswing can give a pretty good indication of which way firms in a particular sector are leaning in terms of investment spending or construction projects.

Previous Economy at a Glances have featured employment-level charts for key U.S. sub-sectors. Similar graphs have now been developed for Canada and they are featured in this EAAG.

The underlying data for the U.S. and Canada comes from surveys of employers. A significant point of difference, however, is that the U.S. numbers are seasonally adjusted. For Canada, they are moving 12-month averages of not seasonally adjusted (NSA) figures, placed in the latest month.
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