The current and future economy, trends in design and construction, political influence – sometimes we have something to say about topics which may be signs of things to come.

Dodge, ConstructConnect, ABI, Census find divergent starts, design and permit trends

The value of construction starts rose 2% from January to February at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on Tuesday. "This was the second straight monthly increase, following a 15% hike in January [revised up from an initial estimate of +12%], as construction starts regained the upward track following four consecutive monthly declines to close out 2016. Much of February's advance came from a strong performance by the public works sector, led by the start of a $1.4 billion natural gas pipeline in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, plus an improved level of highway and bridge construction. The electric utility/gas plant category also strengthened with the start of two large power plants and a major transmission line project. At the same time, nonresidential building made a partial retreat [-9%] after its strong January performance, yet still remained slightly above its average monthly pace during 2016. Residential building in February also settled back [-3%], due to a slide for multifamily housing....Additional perspective is obtained by looking at...the 12 months ending February 2017 versus the 12 months ending February 2016, which lessens the volatility present in comparisons of just two months. On this basis, total construction starts were up 2%. By major sector, nonbuilding construction dropped 12%, with public works down 4% and electric utilities/gas plants down 30%.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 20-23, 2017

Construction input costs again outpace building PPIs; hires rise; 39 states add jobs

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand in February, not seasonally adjusted, increased 0.4% from January and 2.2% year-over-year (y/y) from February 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Tuesday. AGC posted tables and an explanation focusing on construction prices and costs. Final demand includes goods, services and five types of nonresidential buildings that BLS says make up 34% of total construction. The PPI for final demand construction, not seasonally adjusted, dipped 0.1% for the month but increased 1.2% y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 13-17, 2017

Construction spending, starts stumble in January; Beige Book finds 'modest' growth

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Construction spending totaled $1.180 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in January, a decrease of 1.0% from the December rate but a 3.1% year-over-year (y/y) gain from the January 2016 rate, the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. Private residential spending in January increased 0.5% for the month and 5.9% y/y. New multifamily construction increased 9.0% y/y; new single-family construction rose 2.3% y/y; and residential improvements rose 11% y/y. Private nonresidential spending was unchanged from December but climbed 8.9% y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Feb. 27-Mar. 3, 2017

Construction starts soar in January, Dodge says; airport projects take off; ABI slips

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

The value of construction starts jumped 12% from December to January at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on Wednesday. "After losing momentum during last year's fourth quarter, nonresidential building strengthened in January, with much of the lift coming from the start of the $3.4 billion Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport in New York [LGA] as well as groundbreaking for several other large airport terminal projects."    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: February 15-24, 2017

Construction input costs outpace new building PPIs; more price hikes appear imminent

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand in January, not seasonally adjusted, increased 0.5% from December and 1.6% year-over-year (y/y) from January 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  reported today. AGC posted tables and an explanation focusing on construction prices and costs. Final demand includes goods, services and five types of nonresidential buildings that BLS says make up 34% of total construction. The PPI for final demand construction, not seasonally adjusted, climbed 0.3% for the month and 1.3% y/y. The PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of five categories of buildings—rose 1.4% y/y. Changes ranged from 0.8% y/y each for industrial and school building construction to 0.9% for health care buildings, 1.9% for office buildings and 2.0% for warehouses. PPIs for new, repair and maintenance work on nonresidential buildings ranged from 0.8% y/y for electrical contractors to 0.2% for plumbing contractors, 2.0% for roofing contractors and 4.1% for concrete contractors. The index for inputs to construction—excluding capital investment, labor and imports—comprises a mix of 59% goods (including 5% for energy) and 41% services (including trade services, 26%; transportation and warehousing, 4%; and other services, 10%).    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: February 6-14, 2017

The following article originally appeared in the February newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation, for the purpose of providing the latest leading indicators and industry issues to those clients.  Reprinted with permission.

Houston managed to squeak through 2016 with a net job growth of 14,800 jobs. For what many economists have stated is the worst recession to hit Houston in decades, that is a major achievement for our region and a testament to the diversification of our city.

Thanks to our ever-growing Port of Houston and Texas Medical Center, and the heavy industrial boom on the east side of town, Houston was buffered from a more severe downturn. However, companies were also quicker to act. Right-sizing and making the difficult decisions early. Breaking the bone to ensure it resets itself right the first time.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: February 2017

Employment rises in January; spending slips in December; recent pay trends are mixed

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Nonfarm payroll employment in January increased by 227,000, seasonally adjusted, from December and by 2,343,000 (1.6%) year-over-year (y/y), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The unemployment rate inched up to 4.8% from 4.7% in December. Construction employment (6,809,000) increased by 36,000 from the upwardly revised December total to the highest level since November 2008 and rose by 170,000 (2.6%) y/y. Average hourly earnings in construction increased 3.2% y/y to $28.52, or 9.7% higher than the average for all private-sector employees ($26.00 a y/y gain of 2.5%).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Jan. 30-Feb. 3, 2017

An article by Johnny Magdaleno which was published in Next City last month offers reactions by representatives from the Workers Defense Project and Workforce Solutions Capital Area to a report by personal finance website NerdWallet which listed Austin, Texas as “the best place to search for a job in 2017.”

The Austin area is indeed growing its employment opportunities in technical fields with the opening of Apple’s new campus and the promised funding by Microsoft, Google, and IBM for internships for low-income job seekers and veterans through the TechHire initiative.

However, workers in the construction, restaurant, and other service industries are not all finding the same job growth opportunities.   Read more » about Austin, Texas: Best City for Job Seekers?

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