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.

September employment hits highest level since 2008; August spending slides

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 September increased by 156,000, seasonally adjusted, from August and by 2,447,000 (1.7%) year-over-year (y/y), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The unemployment rate (5.0%) inched up from 4.9% in August, as the number of jobseekers increased more than hiring. Construction employment (6,669,000) increased by 23,000 from the upwardly revised August total to the highest level since December 2008. Over the past 12 months, industry employment rose by 218,000 or 3.4%, twice as fast as total nonfarm employment. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) rose by 15,700 for the month and 146,000 (5.9%) y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: October 3-7, 2016

We take note of developments in the 3D printing world, and a recent article in Forbes titled “Can 3D Printing Transform Construction?” by Freddie Lawson caught our eye.

Why? Mainly because it refers to the Daedalus Pavilion designed and built by a joint venture of Arup and AiBuild for the nvidia GPU Technology Conference.

The pavilion was built using a large scale 3D printer, new GPU processors and learning software. Additionally, it looks fantastic and opens another door into the possibilities for early adopters of 3D printing in the construction industry.

   Read more » about 3D Construction Printing Update

Number of metros with job gains hits three-year low; nonresidential starts rise sharply

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 August 2015 to August 2016 in 220 (61%) of the 358 metro areas (including divisions of larger metros) for which BLS provides construction employment data, decreased in 76 (21%) and was stagnant in 62, according to an AGC release and map on Wednesday. (BLS combines mining and logging with construction in most metros.) The number of metros with increases was the smallest since April 2013 but the number with decreases was similar to other months; this could suggest contractors in some metros are unable to find the workers with requisite skills. The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area again added the most (11,400 combined jobs, 12%), followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. division (10,200 construction jobs, 11%) and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (10,200 construction jobs, 17%) and the %).    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 26-30, 2016

Fewer states show job gains; AIA survey suggests worker shortages may be the reason

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 36 states from August 2015 to August 2016, declined in 13 states and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in Nebraska, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Tuesday showed. The number of states with increases was the smallest since April 2013, which may indicate either a slowing in construction activity or contractors having greater difficulty in finding acceptable workers. The highest percentage gains again occurred in Iowa (19%, 14,400 jobs) and Hawaii (12%, 4,300), followed by Colorado (11%, 16,800) and Idaho (9.2%, 3,500). Iowa and Massachusetts set new records. The top four states in number of jobs added were again California (29,300 jobs, 4.0%), Florida (22,000, 5.1%), Colorado and Iowa. Kansas lost the highest percentage and number of construction jobs (-7.7%, -4,700), followed in percentage decline by Montana (-7.2%, -1,900), North Dakota (-6.5%, -2,200) and Wyoming (-5.7%, -1,300). Alabama lost the second-largest number of construction jobs (-3,500, -4.3%), followed by North Dakota, Montana and Kentucky (-1,900, -2.5%). From July to August, seasonally adjusted construction employment increased in 24 states, shrank in 25 states and D.C., and was unchanged in Montana.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 20-23, 2016

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

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