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.

Employment rose in 32 states in 2016; materials costs climb; yearend Dodge starts slip

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.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment rose in 32 states from December 2015 to December 2016 and fell in 18 states and the District of Columbia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on January 23 showed. Nevada again led in percentage gain (15%, 11,000 jobs), followed by Oregon (9.0%, 7,600), Iowa (8.3%, 6,900), Minnesota (8.0%, 9,300), Washington (7.6%, 13,500) and Colorado (7.0%, 11,000). Florida  added the most jobs (22,300 jobs, 5.1%), followed by California (20,900, 2.8%), Washington, Nevada and Colorado. Illinois lost the most jobs (-9,700 jobs, -4.5%), followed by New York (-7,800, -2.1%), Alabama (-6,100, -7.4%) and Kentucky (-5,000, -7.4%). Alabama and North Dakota (-7.4%, -2,400 jobs) had the steepest percentage loss, followed by Kansas (-6.8%, -4,200) and Kentucky.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: January 20-27, 2017

The presidential election of November 2016 represents an historic change in the United States, producing a new President-elect, Donald J. Trump, who has proposed policies to “Make America Great Again.” Those policies include controlling immigration, renegotiating trade agreements, raising defense spending (of the U.S. and its allies), cutting personal and corporate tax rates, increasing energy independence, reducing regulation, and spending up to $1 Trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure. All or any combination of these, could potentially have a powerful impact on our future.

A review of the construction outlook for chemical plants, LNG terminals, gas plants, refineries, and transmission and distribution for oil and gas leads us to believe, despite abundant uncertainty, that the proposals of President-elect Trump improve the prospects for industrial construction almost across the board.

Regulatory changes will encourage the production of natural gas – encouraging investment in chemical plants, natural gas liquefaction facilities, refineries, and natural gas plants – even though increased capital costs, due to higher interest rates, will somewhat reduce those investments. The outlook for pipelines is better, since the Trump Administration will promote the Keystone North project and encourage the production and utilization of domestic oil and natural gas.   Read more » about The Trump Effect on Industrial Construction

ConstructConnect, ABI, Beige Book signal positive, but mixed, outlook for starts

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 nonresidential construction starts decreased 5.6%, not seasonally adjusted, year-over-year (y/y) from December 2015 to December 2016 but increased 6.8% for the full year, data provider ConstructConnect reported on Tuesday. Nonresidential building starts (66% of the total) slipped 2.3% y/y but expanded by 11% for the full year. Commercial building starts dipped 1.7% y/y but added 11% for the year; institutional building starts, -3.9% y/y and +12% for the year; and the small industrial building starts segment, +0.3% y/y and -13% for the year. Heavy engineering (civil) starts (34% of the total) fell 12% y/y but only 0.5% for the year. The largest subsegments, in descending order of 2016 size, were school/college, down 9.7% for the year; road/highway, up 1.6%; water/sewage, up 6.8%; and retail/shopping, up 25%.

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score in December soared to 55.9, seasonally adjusted, the highest one-month reading since July 2007, and a large leap from November's mark of 50.6, the American Institute of Architects reported on Wednesday. The ABI measures the percentage of surveyed architecture firms that reported higher billings than a month earlier less the percentage reporting lower billings; any score over 50 indicates billings growth. Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: January 16-19, 2017

The following article originally appeared in the January newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation.  Reprinted with permission.

We begin 2017 with optimism and excitement. We have been able to “walk our talk” about executing the right succession plan. As of January 1st, we become part of the Houston Team of the heralded consulting firm, FMI. The timing is right for us, I am now an octogenarian; Candace, a leading-edge millennial on the springboard of her productive years. They are attracted to my past and her future.

Candace and I are humbled and honored to join our industry’s leading consulting firm. Our mandate is to continue to serve our clients exactly as we have and to help them grow in Houston and Texas. This move gives us the capacity to add significant additional value with FMI’s vast resources of bright people, tailored industry data, and an impressive track record of helping construction companies prosper and grow.   Read more » about Practicing What We Preach: Successful Succession

Contractors are upbeat about 2017 markets; job growth slows as openings soar

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.

Contractors are optimistic, on balance, about the 2017 outlook for nonresidential and multifamily construction, based on the 1,281 responses to a survey that AGC released on Tuesday. About 46% expect the available dollar volume of projects they compete for in 2017 to be higher than in 2016, while 9% expect the volume to be lower, for a net positive reading of 36%. The net reading was positive for all 13 market segments included in the survey, the net was highest for hospital and retail, warehouse and lodging construction, at 23% each; followed by private office, 20%; manufacturing, 18%; highway and public building, 15% each; higher education, K-12 school and water/sewer, 14% each; multifamily and other transportation, 11% each; power, 10%; and federal construction, 7%.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: January 6-13, 2017

Emily Peiffer, the editor over at Construction Dive, recently posted a feature article titled 10 Construction Trends to Watch in 2017. Since hers is one of the first of 2017, I thought that we would share the list and give you the link so that you can take a deeper dive into the list at your leisure. Here is Emily’s provocative list.

  1. Collaborative project delivery methods will become more popular.
  2. The labor shortage will continue to plague the industry.
  3. The feeling of uncertainty will linger under the new administration.
  4. Offsite/modular construction will gain a stronger foothold in the market.
  5. Construction firms are cautiously optimistic for a future infrastructure-spending boost.
  6. Read more » about Construction Trends for 2017

Construction spending hits 10-year high; apartments and warehouses remain hot

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 $1.182 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in November, an increase of 0.9% from the October rate and 4.1% year-over-year (y/y) from the November 2015 rate, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday. The rate was the highest since April 2006. Private residential spending increased 1.0% in November and 3.0% y/y. New multifamily construction slumped 2.7% for the month but increased 11% y/y; new single-family construction gained 1.8% from October but declined 0.9% y/y; and residential improvements rose 1.5% for the month and 6.8% y/y. Private nonresidential spending climbed 0.9% for the month and 6.4% y/y. By subsegment, in descending order of November size, power (electric power plus oil and gas pipelines and field structures) edged up 0.5% for the month and 1.5% y/y; commercial (retail, warehouse and farm) added 0.3% for the month and 12% y/y; manufacturing skidded 1.1% in November and 8.0% y/y; office jumped 1.9% in November and 31% y/y to an all-time high; and health care fell 0.2% in November and 2.6% y/y.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Dec. 22, 2016-Jan. 5, 2017

The following article originally appeared in the January 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.

“[2017] isn’t likely to be a banner year for the region’s economy, but it should be a further step on the road back to robust growth.” Those were the sentiments of Patrick Jankowski, Senior Vice President of Research at the Greater Houston Partnership, after unveiling his Houston employment forecast of 29,700 for 2017.

For construction, however, there is still more pain to be had. Digging into Jankowski’s numbers, construction is predicted to lose 16,000 jobs in 2017, largely due to the expected slowdown in the heavy industrial work. City of Houston permits also continue to track down in total dollar volume from a year ago, and are more heavily weighted to renovations and additions rather than new construction.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: January 2017

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