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.

PPI for new buildings moderate; hiring plans diverge; income properties remain healthy

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.

Signs of a slowdown in construction activity are accumulating but not conclusive. Construction spending and employment have been flat or generally decreasing since March, but remain above year-ago levels. Producer price indexes (PPIs) for new building construction are rising more slowly than in the past several years, suggesting reduced pricing power by contractors. Contractors' hiring plans for next quarter vary by region from "a slight decline" to "moderately stronger."    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 12-19, 2016

Job openings rise in July; Dodge sees more projects ahead; surveys vary on cost trends

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC Americato 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.

There were 214,000 construction industryjob openings, seasonally adjusted, at the end of July, BLS reported on Wednesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). Openings amounted to 3.1% of combined employment plus openings. Both figures were the highest for July since 2006. In contrast, the 334,000 hires in July, seasonally adjusted, and the hiring rate (5.0% of monthly employment) were in line with monthly levels over the past eight years. Together, the near-record openings and trendless hiring pattern are consistent with the results of a survey AGC released on August 31 in which 69% of the 1,459 responding contractors reported difficulty filling craft positions. The number and rate of layoffs and discharges in August, seasonally adjusted, are near the lowest levels in the 16-year history of the JOLTS data, suggesting contractors are trying to hold onto workers, a possible indication that they have a backlog of projects to complete.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 7-9, 2016

Contractors again report difficulty filling jobs; employment, spending rise less steadily

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.

Filling craft positions and some salaried positions remains a challenge for contractors, according to participants in AGC's 2016 Workforce Survey, though slightly less so than in 2015. More than two-thirds (69%) of the 1,459 respondents stated they were having a hard time filling some hourly craft positions, AGC reported on August 31. In addition, 38% said they were having a hard time filling some salaried field positions; 33%, salaried office positions; and 15%, hourly office positions, while 8% reported no trouble filling any positions and 9% had no openings to fill.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 23-September 6, 2016

The following article originally appeared in the September 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 latest City of Houston permit data provided the local newspapers with headlines announcing that commercial construction was up 40% while residential construction floundered. However, upon closer inspection, the increase in the value of new permits is a direct result of medical, school and public work construction projects, while nearly all other sectors are relatively flat or slightly down compared to a year ago. Also trending is an increasing amount of renovation work versus the new construction, a trend likely to continue in the months ahead.

The drop in residential permits isn’t as bad as suggested either. Builders are finding creative ways to offer homes in a lower price range. Metrostudy is projecting housing starts will end up down about 14% this year when compared to a year ago, but that drops Houston from the largest new home volume market nationally to the second largest, behind Dallas-Ft Worth.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: September 2016

A tech startup has just launched hardware coupled with cloud-based software designed to allow employers in the construction industry to conduct real-time monitoring of conditions that could cause health problems for the workers on their jobsites.

As with any industry, there are certain health risks associated with construction. That's why the developers of this monitoring system are hopeful the technology can find widespread acceptance. Respiratory illnesses, skin problems due to exposure to certain substances, and high levels of noise and vibrations are included in the monitoring system’s calculations.

One of the system's developers said the monitoring should improve the overall health of workers, which of course means there is self-interest for companies investing in it as well.    Read more » about High-Tech Monitors for Health and Safety on Construction Sites

39 states add construction jobs in latest 12 months; reports on July starts diverge

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 39 states from July 2015 to July 2016, declined in 11 states and was unchanged in the District of Columbia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Friday showed. The highest percentage gains occurred in Iowa (17%, 12,800 jobs), followed by Hawaii (13%, 4,500), Idaho (13%, 4,800), Colorado (11%, 16,100), Arizona (8.6%, 10,900) and Massachusetts (8.4%, 11,600). Iowa and Massachusetts set new records. California again added the most jobs (29,100 jobs, 4.0%), followed by Florida (16,400, 6.1%), Colorado, Iowa and Massachusetts. North Dakota again lost the highest percentage of construction jobs (-8.5%, -2,900), followed by Wyoming (-7.5%, -1,700) and Kansas (-7.3%, -4,400). Kansas lost the largest number of construction jobs, followed by North Dakota, Alabama (-2,400, -3.0%) and Kentucky (-2,300, -3.0%). From June to July, seasonally adjusted construction employment increased in 23 states and D.C., shrank in 26 states, and was unchanged in Alaska.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 15-22, 2016

PPIs show little change in July; job growth resumes; openings rise as hiring dips in June

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 July, not seasonally adjusted, decreased 0.3% from June and 0.2% year-over-year (y/y) from July 2015, 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, declined 0.6% for the month but rose 0.8% 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—also rose 0.8% y/y. Changes ranged from -0.4% y/y for industrial building construction to 0.1% for schools, 0.9% for healthcare buildings, 1.4% for office buildings and 1.5% for warehouses.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 5-12, 2016

Employment rises in 64% of metros; spending drops in June but grows year-to-date

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 employment, not seasonally adjusted, increased from June 2015 to June 2016 in 228 (64%) of the 358 metro areas (including divisions of larger metros) for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides construction employment data, decreased in 82 (23%) and was stagnant in 48, according to an AGC release and map on Tuesday. (BLS combines mining and logging with construction in most metros.) The Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. division again added the most jobs during the past year (12,500 construction jobs, 14%), followed by Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (10,700 construction jobs, 11%) and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale (9,900 construction jobs, 10%).    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 1-4, 2016

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