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11 Mid-April Economic Nuggets

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

Despite U.S. construction continuing to record a total activity level below potential, the sector should be receiving more bouquets for the bigger role it is playing in the economy overall.

11 Mid-April Economic Nuggets Graphic

Historical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records that in the year 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs in America’s economy was 17.3 million. The same source records that the number of construction jobs at the turn of the century was 6.8 million.

In 2017 versus 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. was down by 28% to 12.4 million, while the number of construction jobs was ahead by 3%, to 7.0 million.

The clearest way to illustrate the rising importance of construction relative to manufacturing, at least from an employment standpoint, is to express their relationship in terms of a ratio. In 2000, there were four jobs in construction for every ten jobs in manufacturing. Now, there almost six on-site jobs for every ten production-line positions.

More dramatic still has been the shift in favor of construction work in Canada. In 2000, there were 2.2 million Canadian manufacturing jobs compared with 800,000 in construction. By 2017, manufacturing employment had retreated by -23%, to 1.7 million, while construction employment had surged by +75%, to 1.4 million.
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Ranking and Reviewing America’s Top Dozen Exporting States

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

This article provides a ranking of America’s Top Dozen States according to their goods export volumes in full year 2017.

Total U.S. goods exports last year amounted to almost one-and-a-half trillion dollars.

Ranking and Reviewing America’s Top Dozen Exporting States Graphic

The background foreign trade data comes from the Census Bureau’s web-based site entitled USA Trade Online. While it’s relatively easy to open a free account, if one is not familiar with ‘pivot tables’, there is a bit of a learning curve to access the statistics.

The type-of-product designations follow the definitions in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

(1) Texas:

Texas, with export shipments of $264.1 billion and a 17.9% share of the nation’s total, was the leader among U.S. states for foreign sales in 2017. The NAICS category at the top of the Lone Star State’s exports list was ‘computer and electronic products’ ($47.0 billion), but close behind were ‘petroleum and coal products’ ($44.0 billion), ‘chemicals’ ($40.0 billion) and ‘oil and gas’ ($32.0). ‘Chemicals’ exports were dominated by synthetic rubber.

While Texas has a high level of computer-product exports, it would be more accurate to say that the State is especially strong in energy-product export sales. Energy products as a catch-all would combine refined petroleum (e.g., gasoline), chemicals, crude oil and natural gas for more than $100 billion.

In 2017, there were substantial increases in oil exports from Texas to China, Canada and South Korea. Other major customers for Texas crude last year were Mexico and Brazil.

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U.S. December Jobs Creation ‘Weakish’, but Construction Compensation Bullish

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Article source: ConstructConnect

U.S. net total jobs creation in the final month of last year was a tepid +148,000, according to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The ‘weakish’ December result caused the monthly average throughout all 2017 to pull back slightly to +171,000

Just the same, +171,000 as a monthly average in 2017 signifies a more than satisfactory performance, although it was down from 2016’s comparable figure of +187,000.

The U.S. unemployment rate in December remained the same as in November, at an exceptionally tight 4.1%.

The seasonally adjusted (SA) number of U.S. construction jobs recorded a nice gain in December of +30,000. Such a substantial increase in employment for on-site workers was the biggest leap since February 2017’s +54,000.
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Construction’s Interaction With High-Tech is Much More Than the Obvious

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Construction’s interaction with high-tech is much more than the obvious.

2017-12-11-Construction-and-Technology-Graphic

Yes, there are the products (e.g., smart phones) and the processes (e.g., BIM) that factor in, but there is also a wide range of economic issues to consider as well.
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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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Ranking the Economic Performance of Canada’s Provinces – Heat Graph

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Chart 1 of this article sets out, for each of Canada’s provinces, the most recent year-over-year growth rates for seven demographic and economic variables – population, housing starts, total jobs, hourly earnings, weekly earnings, retail sales and export sales.

An eighth measure is also included, the unemployment rate, but it is a ‘level’ rather than a growth rate.

To compare how the provinces are doing relative to each other, Chart 2 rearranges the results from Chart 1 in a ‘heat’ graphic. The methodology is as follows.

In each column of Chart 1, when the percent change number is equal to or higher than the Canada-wide figure, the relevant ‘cell’ is highlighted in yellow (for ‘warm’).

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13 Mid-September Economic Nuggets

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Hurricane Harvey, which first struck southern Texas on Saturday August 25, and Hurricane Irma, which reached landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday September 10, will ‘muddy’ the economic statistics for months to come. Estimates of the physical damage range widely, with $200 billion as the current outer limit.

Homes, shopping malls, schools, churches, fast-food outlets, abandoned motor vehicles and fragile vegetation were all victimized, to varying degrees, by storm surges, flooding and crushing winds. In the aftermath, restoring power and ensuring the safety of roads and bridges have been the immediate concerns.

Many building material suppliers and contractors, working together with insurance companies and government relief bodies, will be immersed in lengthy rebuilding efforts. The labor availability problem will become more acute.

(more…)

Chief Economist Alex Carrick Shares Outlook on 2018

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Employment and revenues for architecture, engineering and construction have grown modestly for most of 2017. But the signals for the next 12 months are mixed, with architectural billings positive, construction starts uneven and contractors hiring, but worried about finding enough qualified workers. Meanwhile, there is huge uncertainty about the impact of potential changes in tax, infrastructure, immigration and other types of policy. How will these cross-cutting influences play out?

On November 1, three of the industry’s leading economists will come together for the annual Design and Construction Industry Economic Forecast, where they’ll discuss the changing landscape of commercial construction, the opportunities and challenges facing the industry as well as strategic insight on industry trends.

Construct Connect recently spoke to Alex Carrick, Chief Economists for ConstructConnect, for a quick discussion about his thoughts on the current state of the construction industry and where things are heading.

ConstructConnect: How long have you been hosting this webcast, what’s it about and who should attend?

(more…)

2 Leading Monitors of U.S. Construction Activity, 1 Public and 1 Private – Early Fall 2017

Monday, October 16th, 2017


Article source: ConstructConnect

The percentage levels and changes in Table 1 are based on the Census Bureau’s seasonally-adjusted (SA) August 2017 and earlier put-in-place construction statistics. ‘Put-in-place’ as a concept is meant to mirror work-in-process or progress payments as projects proceed.

2017-10-03-US-Put-in-Place-Aug-2017

For each type-of-structure, Table 1 takes the behind-the-scenes put-in-place data and compares the percentage changes of latest-12-months-over-previous-12-months versus latest-three-months-over-previous-three-months (annualized).

If the three-month percent change exceeds the 12-month percent change, then construction activity in that type-of-structure category is considered to be speeding up. A check mark is entered in the far right column. (If the opposite is occurring, a check mark is entered in the ‘slowing down’ column.)

If a type-of-structure category has a latest 3-month percent-change that is negative, but less negative, than its 12-month percent-change, such a circumstance is also considered to be an instance of ‘speeding up’ and warrants a check mark in the right-hand column. (Or, if it’s turning more negative, then it’s ‘slowing down’ further.)
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U.S. September Jobs Report Delivers a ‘Sit Up and Pay Attention’ Moment

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has just delivered a ‘sit up and pay attention’ moment. Its September Employment Situation report records a month-to-month deterioration (-33,000) in the total number of U.S. jobs for the first time in seven years, dating back to September 2010 (-52,000).

2017-10-06-US-Labor-Graphic

Before economy watchers start gnashing their teeth or bemoaning too loudly, the BLS is quick to point out that there was a special circumstance – horrific weather – that caused the employment downfall.

The jobs numbers are derived from a survey of payrolls. Employees in Texas and Florida who missed receiving paychecks early in September due to the fierce onslaughts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were accorded out-of-work status.

Hence, September’s jobs numbers fell prey to two unique but in many way twin events. There will almost certainly be distortions in October’s numbers as well, but in the opposite direction, as rebuilding rebound effects come into play. (more…)

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