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.

Job growth continues in 35 states; PPIs remain mild; multifamily market appears to slow

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 35 states from September 2015 to September 2016, declined in 14 states and the District of Columbia, and held steady in West Virginia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Friday showed. Iowa again led in percentage gain (13%, 10,400 jobs), followed by Nevada (13%, 9,200), Colorado (11%, 16,400) and Washington (10%, 17,300). The most jobs added were again in California (34,100 jobs, 4.6%) and Florida (28,400, 6.6%), followed by Washington and Colorado. Kansas had the steepest percentage loss (-7.6%, -4,700), followed by Maine (-7.5%, -2,000), Wyoming (-7.4%, -1,700) and Delaware (-6.0%, -1,300). Illinois lost the most jobs (-5,500, -2.5%), followed by Kansas, Kentucky (-3,500, -4.5%) and Pennsylvania (-3,000, -1.3%). For the month, employment rose in 23 states and D.C., shrank in 23 states and was unchanged in four. (AGC's rankings are based on seasonally adjusted data, which in D.C., Delaware and five other states is available only for construction, mining and logging combined.)

The PPI for final demand in October, not seasonally adjusted, was unchanged from September and increased 0.8% year-over-year (y/y) from October 2015, the BLS reported on Wednesday.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: November 14-21, 2016

Voters pass numerous construction ballot and bond measures; job openings rise

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.

Voters approved several long-term measures to increase local sales taxes for public construction and operations on Tuesday. Los Angeles and San Diego voters each approved measures to raise the sales tax rate ½-cent in 2017 to generate $120 billion and $18 billion, respectively, over 40 years. In Los Angeles, construction would begin on $2.5 billion each in 2018 and 2019 on projects including local street improvements. Spending in San Diego would include transit and road projects. Atlanta-area voters approved varying amounts of sales tax increases for expanding and improving mass transit and other transportation.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: November 7-11, 2016

Economic and political uncertainty call into question the durability of this week’s Wall Street rally, but the election of Donald J Trump as the next President of the United States has not inflicted the kind of damage to markets that many analysts expected.

That is in large part thanks to Trump’s tone on election night.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday after Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton called the Republican candidate to concede, Trump gave a victory speech in which he thanked his former political opponent for her service and even said the nation owes her a debt of gratitude.

“I mean that very sincerely. Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together,” Trump said. “To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me,” Mr. Trump said. “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”   Read more » about Construction Firms See Stocks Rise in Wake of Tumultuous Election

Recently at the annual Kiley Advisors Update Conference for construction industry owners in Houston, keynote speaker Christopher Daum, the President and CEO of FMI Corporation, discussed the ownership succession issues facing those current owners of construction companies, especially private family-owned sub contractors, as they come to the end of their careers and begin to wonder what will happen to their companies after they are gone. Though no one in the room would admit to it, many are at the end of the road looking for succession options at a time when we are all living in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world made even more so by the cyclical nature of the construction industry and the demographics of the workforce that contains their future partners or owners.

Daum explored and examined a number of possibilities for ownership succession in detail, but he made one point that hit several of the owners in the audience right between the eyes.    Read more » about Ownership Succession in Construction Companies

Construction employment grows in October; spending slips in September

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 October increased by 161,000, seasonally adjusted, from September and by 2,357,000 (1.7%) year-over-year (y/y), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The unemployment rate (4.9%) inched down from 5.0% in September. Construction employment (6,679,000) increased by 11,000 from September and by 195,000 (3.0%) over 12 months to the highest level since December 2008. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) rose by 4,500 for the month and 139,700 (5.6%) y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 2016

The following article originally appeared in the November newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC for the purpose of providing the latest leading indicators and industry issues to those clients.  Reprinted with permission.

The worst is likely behind us.  At least that was the sentiment around a panel of economists discussing Houston’s economy.  While the recovery will be slower and longer than previous recessions, barring an unforeseen event, it appears that Houston is beginning to recover.

The focus of the panel, instead, was on how far Houston fell before the change in direction.  An early re-benchmark of the employment numbers by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows employment numbers from the Texas Workforce Commission will likely be revised down, though how far is anyone’s guess.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: November 2016

Leaders in the commercial construction industry in Houston have a lot to be thankful for despite a state and global economy that is struggling in many ways. Houston – along with the rest of Texas – has been hit hard by the downturn in energy but the economy here is much more diversified than it was during previous oil busts. Improvements in sectors like health care and real estate have helped to blunt some of the economic damage incurred by oil and gas as well as manufacturing.

During a conference presented by Kiley Advisors this past week, consultants Pat Kiley and Candace Hernandez told construction executives that while the rate of global economic growth is slowing, there are bright spots that will keep builders here quite busy.

Texas has added 1.8 million people since 2010 and a little more than 14% of the state’s economy is now energy specific or energy-related. Job growth has slowed overall, with about 167,000 jobs added in 2015 after more than 361,000 were added in the previous year. GDP growth for 2016 is expected to be 1.6 percent, down from about 3 percent in 2015.

Unfortunately, “Houston continues to be the weak sister,” Hernandez said of the unemployment numbers in metropolitan areas around Texas. Unemployment in the Bayou City is 5.7 percent, compared with 4.1 percent in DFW and San Antonio, and 3.5 percent in Austin.    Read more » about Economic Outlook: A Mixture of Clouds and Sunshine

Construction pay appears to dip; other costs are mixed; injury rate declines again

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.

Compensation costs (wages, salaries and benefits, including required employer payments such as unemployment and workers compensation) in private industry in the third quarter of 2016 (Q3) increased 0.5%, seasonally adjusted (after rising 0.5% in Q2), and 2.3% over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. Wages and salaries also rose 0.5% in Q3 (vs. 0.6% in Q2) and 2.4% over 12 months.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: October 25-28, 2016

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