Wells Fargo Reports: Home Price Appreciation Stabilizing


Wells_Fargo_Securities_logoThe S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices posted solid gains in January. The slide in year-over-year home price appreciation appears to have halted. Gains have been strongest in markets with large tech sectors.

More Moderation Expected

  • The 20-city and 10-city composite indices both increased 0.9 percent in January and are up roughly 4.5 percent year over year. The national index posted a 0.6 percent rise on the month, but also increased 4.5 percent year over year.
  • Most measures of home prices are stabilizing around 5 percent year-over-year growth after decelerating for some time. Tight inventories and rising development costs will support prices.

Technology Markets Approaching All-Time Highs

  • Year-over-year gains have been broad based. Weakness has been mostly isolated to the Northeast and Midwest. Cleveland and Washington, D.C. both posted sub-two percent growth.
  • Only two of the twenty housing markets in the report have surpassed their prerecession peak. Many of the markets with large technology sectors, however, are rapidly approaching pre-recession levels.

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ABC Economic Analysis of Construction Job Market & Unemployment Rate

NRRecently, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) launched its state-by-state economic analysis with the release of economist Bernard Markstein’s  analysis of construction’s contribution to each state’s gross domestic product. Below is Markstein’s analysis of the construction job market and unemployment rate in each state. This analysis will be produced monthly in addition to ABC’s existing national economic data and analysis


The construction industry has shown evidence of recovery and appears to be on a mild upward trajectory despite occasional backsliding. In 2014, construction spending for all the major areas rose faster than the rise in construction costs. Last year also marked the fourth year in a row that construction employment grew and the largest annual advance in construction employment since 2005.

This rebound in construction employment has been reflected in the construction unemployment rate. For the United States, that rate—which is reported on a not seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis—has been falling on a year-over-year basis for almost four and a half years. Much of that early decline was due to the exit of workers from the industry as they accepted work in other industries, sought training in a new field, or left the workforce. More recently, the decline in the construction unemployment rate has reflected rising employment in the industry.

The return of construction has been fairly widespread across the nation. On a year-over-year basis, the estimate of the January construction unemployment rate was down in 46 of the 50 states.

As would be expected, the January NSA construction unemployment rate for each state increased from December for all states. Only 11 of the 50 states had a rate below 10% in January, down from 21 states in December.

The one big surprise on a year-over-year basis was Louisiana where the rate jumped from 7.6% in January 2014 to 10.8% in January 2015. Note that even with this dramatic surge in the construction unemployment rate, Louisiana had the 16th lowest rate among the states. That is still quite a comedown from having the second lowest rate in the nation in January 2014. The jump in the rate may reflect the effects of lower oil prices on construction-related activity in the energy sector. There has also been a slowdown in the overall Louisiana economy as evidenced by a rise in Louisiana’s general unemployment rate.

Click here to see a ranking of states’ construction unemployment rankings.

Click here to see each states’ unemployment rate across all industries.

Click here to see a regional breakdown of states’ construction unemployment rates.

The Top Five States

Four of the top five states based on lowest January construction unemployment rates (or in the case of Maryland, Nebraska, and Hawaii, the construction and mining unemployment rate) remained the same as December, though the order was somewhat different. Maryland, which remained number one,   often has a low construction and mining unemployment rate as a result of being a small state with relatively few workers engaged in the construction and mining industries and in an area (bordering Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington D.C.) where it is easy to move to find work in construction or in other industries.

Hawaii, another state where construction and mining employment are reported together, jumped to number two from number five. Utah, which was number two in December based on revised employment data, slipped to number three. Despite the drop in oil prices, Texas moved up from seventh to fourth in the rankings. That pushed Nebraska, again with a construction and mining unemployment rate, down from number four to number five.

Apparently due to the drop in oil prices and the resulting slowdown in the oil fields, North Dakota fell out of the top five, dropping from third in December to sixth in January.

The Bottom Five States

Four of the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates for January remained the same as in December, although not in the same order. Rhode Island had the highest rate in both January and December (revised up from the earlier estimate).

Illinois had the second highest rate in January, up from the third highest rate in December. Connecticut also moved up one slot in this less-than-desirable list, from fourth highest to third highest. Indiana, which ranked at the 41st lowest rate in December, fell to 47th in January, which is the fourth highest rate.

Michigan had the fifth highest rate in January after suffering from the second highest construction unemployment rate in December. Michigan’s December construction unemployment rate was originally reported as the highest in the country; however, revised data moved the rate down from 15% to 14.5%.

Finally, Georgia’s construction unemployment rate for December was revised down from 14% to 13.4%, dropping it from fifth highest to seventh highest for that month. For January, Georgia recorded a rate of 14.8%, ranking it 38th lowest or 13th highest.

Read more on ABC’s website

Holt Cat® Celebrates Grand Opening Of Little Elm Store, TX

6A53CC47-3003-4829-9854-CA6B5ECD57A6HOLT CAT®(holtcat.com), the Caterpillar® Equipment and Engine dealer for South, Central, North and Northeast Texas, celebrated the grand opening today of a $14 million, 61,000 square-foot full-service facility at 27600 East University Drive in Little Elm, Texas.

The new Denton County store extends HOLT CAT’s presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to nine locations.

“Little Elm is one of the fastest-growing cities in Texas and investments in construction and infrastructure here are driving an ever-increasing demand for Cat® heavy equipment and services,” said Dave Harris, HOLT CAT president and chief operating officer.

“With this new HOLT CAT location, customers can be confident of always having the right machine for the job, backed by knowledgeable advice and expert service delivered by the best-trained technicians in the industry.”

HOLT CAT leaders including CEO Peter M. Holt were joined by customers and state and local dignitaries at the event, including state Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound.)

Nelson predicted the new store would deliver important benefits to the region:

“It’s wonderful to see HOLT CAT expand their presence in North Texas to Little Elm, she said. “This investment will not only bring jobs and economic development to our community, but also help to immensely support this area’s rapid growth.”

Army Sergeant First Class Dana Bowman, a retired U.S. Army paratrooper who is a double-amputee and a leading wounded warrior advocate, performed a skydiving show at the event. HOLT employs more than 350 veterans, approximately 17 percent of its workforce, and is dedicated to actively expanding job opportunities for men and women who have served in the armed forces.

The new Little Elm store features a comprehensive range of offerings to serve a variety of customer needs across the construction, industrial, oil & gas and paving industries: everything from Cat machine sales, rentals, parts and service, to comprehensive rebuild capabilities and custom product fabrication. For a full description of services and store hours, visit Holt Cat Little Elm.


HOLT CAT® sells, rents and services Caterpillar machines, engines, generator sets and trucks in a 118-county Texas territory spanning from the Red River to the Rio Grande. HOLT offers total machine and engine rebuild capabilities, sells used equipment around the world and fabricates its own line of land clearing equipment and HOLT Spray King® water tankers. HOLT is the dealer for Link-Belt Cranes in the Eastern half of Texas as well as the El Paso area. They are the dealer for AGCO/Challenger and Claas farm equipment for the Eastern half of Texas and portions of Arkansas and Missouri.

The Holt name has been associated with heavy equipment and Caterpillar for more than 100 years. Peter M. Holt, Chief Executive Officer of HOLT CAT, is the great-grandson of Benjamin Holt, who in 1904 developed the first successful track-type tractor which he named the “Caterpillar.” HOLT CAT has come to be synonymous with quality, integrity and commitment to customer service. The HOLT CAT team is committed to providing rock solid stability with superior products and services to heavy equipment and engine users from Brownsville to Texarkana, Texas.

Technical Announcement:
Appalachian Basin Energy Resources — A New Look at an Old Basin

USGSNew Geological Compilation Available for Resource Studies and Land-Use Planning

Appalachian coal and petroleum resources are still available in sufficient quantities to contribute significantly to fulfilling the nation’s energy needs, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Appalachian basin, which includes the Appalachian coalfields and the Marcellus Shale, covers parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

“The study we conducted is a modern, in-depth collection of reports, cross sections and maps that describe the geology of the Appalachian basin and its fossil fuel resources,” said USGS scientist Leslie Ruppert, the study’s lead editor.

Petroleum resources, including oil and natural gas, remain significant in the Appalachian basin. Although both conventional oil and gas continue to be produced in the Appalachian basin, most new wells in the region are drilled in shale reservoirs, such as the famous Marcellus and Utica Shale, to produce natural gas.

The Appalachian basin contains significant coalbed methane and high-quality, thick, bituminous coal resources although the resource is deeper and thinner than the coal that has already been mined.

Although this volume is not a quantitative assessment of all notable geologic and fossil fuel localities in the Appalachian basin, the selected study areas and topics presented in the chapters pertain to large segments of the basin and a wide range of stratigraphic intervals. This updated geologic framework is especially important given the significance of shale gas in the basin.

This volume discusses the locations of coal and petroleum accumulations, the stratigraphic and structural framework, and the geochemical characteristics of the coal beds and petroleum in the basin, as well as the results of recent USGS assessments of coal, oil and gas resources in the basin.

Many of the maps and accompanying data supporting the reports in this volume are available from chapter I.1 as downloadable geographic information system (GIS) data files about the characteristics of selected coal beds and oil and gas fields, locations of oil and gas wells, coal production, coal chemistry, total petroleum system (TPS) boundaries and bedrock geology. Log ASCII Standard (LAS) files for geophysical (gamma ray) wireline well logs are included in other chapters.

USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas and coal resources of onshore lands and offshore state waters. This study of the Appalachian basin will underpin energy resource assessments and may be found online. To find out more about USGS energy assessments and other energy research, please visit the USGS Energy Resources Program website, sign up for our Newsletter, and follow us on Twitter.


Charlie Luck Takes Over As Chairman of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association

image001Charles Luck IV, president and CEO of Luck Companies, Richmond, Va., is the 2015 Chairman of the Board of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA). His election came during the NSSGA Board of Directors’ meeting at the association’s annual convention in Baltimore.

“Charlie’s insights into what the aggregates industry faces each day, coupled with his values based leadership, will take NSSGA to the next level,” said NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson. “He is well-prepared to lead and execute our Rocks Build America strategic plan and will advance our association as the leading voice of the industry.”

Charlie Luck IVIn his acceptance address to the NSSGA Annual Membership meeting, Luck urged all to think about how the aggregates industry impacts America. “Let’s never forget that we are building the future infrastructure of our country that enables a quality of life that many other countries can only wish to have,” he said.

He also called on the entire aggregates industry to be a part of the effort and to make a difference. “When all of us are engaged and committed, NSSGA is doing well. When NSSGA is doing well, we are building a better future for this country.”

Luck also outlined a key priority for 2015: a Board Evolution Initiative. “We have a best-in-class strategy, now how do we get a best-in-class board structure?” he asked.

The plan calls for a task force to provide recommendations on a new board structure and rule changes to align the governance of NSSGA with the Rocks Build America strategic plan. “The goal is to have representation in every state with highly qualified and highly committed leaders to ensure the long-term health of NSSGA and the aggregates industry,” Luck said.

Luck considers himself the guardian of a family legacy, built on the founding principles of honesty, integrity and reliability. A 1983 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Luck is an active member in several professional and trade associations as well as numerous community organizations.

He oversees a growing corporation that employs approximately 800 and has locations in the mid-Atlantic and northeast through its four distinct business units: Luck Stone; Luck Stone Center, Har-Tru Sports and Luck Development Partners. One of Luck’s goals is to ensure the future growth and development of employees and the corporation, while maintaining the company’s leadership role in the aggregates industry.

In April 2011, Luck was honored as the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business Executive of the Year. He is active in civic affairs in Va., and currently serves as a board member for a number of organizations including: the Virginia Foundation for Independent Schools; Virginia Military Institute’s Jackson Hope-Fund; and the Virginia Business Council.

Founded in 1923 and having thrived under the leadership of three generations of the Luck family, Luck Companies has embraced creativity, commitment, leadership and integrity as its core values, and strives to build a culture centered on the success of others. Luck Companies inspires its associates, customers, partners and communities to positively impact their lives and the lives of those around them through Values Based Leadership. Luck Companies believes the best path to exemplary personal and business performance is through making a difference in the lives of others around the world. To learn more about Luck Companies, please visit luckcompanies.com.

NSSGA is the leading voice and advocate for the aggregates industry. Its members – stone, sand and gravel producers and the equipment manufacturers and service providers who support them – produce the essential raw materials found in homes, buildings, roads, bridges and public works projects and represent more than 90 percent of the crushed stone and 70 percent of the sand and gravel mined annually in the United States. Production of aggregates in the U.S. in 2014 totaled 2.17 billion metric tons at a value of $20.3 billion. The aggregates industry employs approximately 100,000 highly-skilled men and women.