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 falls in April, May but April openings rise; various materials prices increase

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 May increased by 38,000, seasonally adjusted, from March and by 2,398,000 (1.7%) over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Friday. The unemployment rate declined to 4.7% from 5.0% in April. Construction employment dropped by 15,000 for the month (to 6,645,000) but increased by 219,000 (3.4%) year-over-year (y/y). The estimated change for April was revised from +5,000 to -1,000. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) decreased by 4,400 for the month but rose by 127,700 (5.2%) y/y. Nonresidential employment (nonresidential building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) shrank by 10,300 for the month but increased by 91,400 (2.3%) y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: June 3-9, 2016

The following article originally appeared in the June 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.

When it comes to oil, $50 is not enough. Those were the sentiments of Jesse Thompson, Business Economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch. Complimenting that opinion, Dr. Bill Gilmer, Director of the UH Bauer Institute for Regional Forecasting, earlier this month during his bi-annual symposium, noted that a non-volatile $60 price for oil would result in increased activity. The chart above shows the breakeven price, further supporting their claims.    Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: June 2016

Spending falls in April but rises year-to-date; Beige Book finds increasing demand, costs

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 in April totaled $1.133 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, down 1.8% from March but up 4.5% year-over-year, the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. The March level was revised up by an unusually large $18 billion (1.6%). The March-to-April decline may reflect "payback" after a mild winter that enabled contractors to do work that normally wouldn't occur before spring. Combined January-April year-to-date (YTD) spending was 8.7% higher than in the same months of 2015. Public construction dropped 2.8% for the month but climbed 6.1% YTD. The largest public component, highway and street construction, fell 0.4% for the month but increased 13% YTD. The other major public segment, educational construction, fell 2.5% for the month but rose 10% YTD. Private residential spending declined 1.5% in April but increased 9.3% YTD.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: May 23-June 2, 2016

Recently, Builtworlds, one of our favorite sites, hosted a Con Tech Forum in Chicago bringing together “national industry thought leaders and change agents for a high-impact, collaborative event that will deepen attendees’ understanding of the unprecedented power and possibilities now available to those who design, build, operate, maintain, plan and trade in our vital, evolving $7-trillion industry.”

The “C suite” only conference held at the Chicago Athletic Association was 48 hours of jam-packed “forward looking information” for executives in construction. The conference speakers touched on a wide variety of lively subjects and hands on experiences that included:

    • Wearables (headsets, helmets, armbands, etc.);
    • Robotics;
    • Modular Construction;
    • Apps for Safety, Reporting, Documentation, Collaboration;
    • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones);
    •    Read more » about Construction Tech Forum

Craft labor shortages are a serious issue with an enormous impact on project productivity.  To gain a better understanding of productivity from their perspective, the Construction Labor Market Analyzer and the Construction Users Roundtable have collaborated in recent years to conduct surveys of construction owners, contractors and unions across the United States.

The new CLMA® white paper, Construction Productivity in an Imbalanced Labor Market, assimilates that data and addresses the construction industry productivity and labor shortage challenges.  It covers 6 key topics, and is now available for download.

  • Construction Productivity Historically
  • Construction Productivity Today
  • Productivity and Project Outcomes
  • Impact of Skilled Labor Shortages on Productivity
  • Mitigating Project Risk
  • Improving Productivity

The data verifies that an imbalanced labor market is a clear leading indicator of poor productivity.  This white paper offers the opportunity to hear from your peers about the labor risk and decreasing industrial construction productivity issues they’re facing.   Read more » about Construction Productivity in an Imbalanced Labor Market

Dodge, ConstructConnect diverge on construction starts trend; PPIs rise in April

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.

Two firms that collect data on the value of new construction starts issued starkly different assessments of April and year-to-date (YTD) starts for the first four months of 2016 combined compared to year-ago periods. April starts slumped 8% from March's level at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on Wednesday. "Nonresidential building pulled back [-19%] following its sharp March increase, and residential building also declined [-8%] due to a slower pace for multifamily housing. Meanwhile, the nonbuilding construction sector showed improvement [+10%], with public works strengthening after its lackluster March performance. Through the first four months of 2016, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were reported...down 12% from...a year ago.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: May 7-20, 2016

The following article originally appeared in the May newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

That statement, attributed to the late Peter Drucker, Founding Dean of the Management Consulting Profession, is never truer than at this very time.  Only companies with strong, value-based, magnetic cultures will be the big winners in the business environment that is becoming more evident every day.  There is an intense war for talent, and there is a relentless march of technology.  Smart companies will have smart people empowered with smart technologies, working in teams, to achieve superior performance targets.

So what are the elements of a culture, in light of both the present and the future market conditions, that are proven to attract, retain, develop and excel?  Valid research is now confirming the building blocks.  First, winning cultures are based on values that stem from deeply held core beliefs about the value of people, the treatments of clients and all building partners, and the obligation of the company to the industry and community.   Read more » about Is Your Culture a Magnet?

Employment stalls in April but remains strong year-over-year; spending rises in March

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 April increased by 160,000, seasonally adjusted, from March and by 2,682,000 (1.9%) over 12 months, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.0%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Friday. Construction employment rose by 1,000 for the month (to 6,670,000) and by 261,000 (4.1%) year-over-year (y/y). Industry employment reached the highest level since December 2008.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: May 2-9, 2016

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