ConstructConnect announced today that August’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential activity, was $33.1 billion − a month-to-month change of -18.9%. The long-term history of the starts data records a ‘normal’ change of -3.5% from July to August, due to seasonality. (Starts are traditionally strongest in Spring and early Summer.)
Compared with August of last year, this year’s latest-month nonresidential starts volume was -9.5%. Relative to the nonresidential five-year average for August, from 2013 through 2017, this year’s latest-month starts volume was +2.7%. Year-to-date nonresidential starts in 2018 compared with the same January-August time frame of 2017 have 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 larger share of total construction than residential activity. The former’s combined proportion of total put-in-place construction in the Census Bureau’s July report was 55%; the latter’s share was 45%.
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., August 2018) is one month ahead of the reporting period for the investment series (i.e., July 2018.)
The all-jobs increase for the U.S. economy in August was +1.6% year over year, according to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Hiring by the construction sector has been more robust, +4.3% year over year. The month-to-month nominal jobs increase in construction in August was +23,000, the same as the average monthly gain since the beginning of this year. Construction hiring on average for January-August 2018 is up by one-third versus 2017’s +18,000 monthly average for the first two-thirds of 2017. Construction’s current unemployment rate is 3.4%, the same as in July, but down from 4.7% in August 2017. Construction’s jobless rate is lower than the ‘headline’ figure for the whole economy, 3.9%.