Tag Archive for 'ABC'

ABC Announces Hire of Stephen Wiltshire as Safety Director

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today announced that veteran construction safety expert Stephen M. Wiltshire has joined its 70-person staff as director of safety.

“Ensuring that our members set the standard for world-class safety in the construction industry is a strategic goal for Associated Builders and Contractors, and the director of safety contributes to and executes the education and outreach programs that make that happen,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “Steve will have a hands-on role in helping ABC members send all their workers home safe every day, leveraging his 37 years of experience across the industrial, commercial, residential and heavy civil construction markets.”

Wiltshire will direct programs and initiatives that support the achievement of ABC’s strategic safety goals, including the Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP), a safety benchmarking and improvement tool for construction firms that can reduce incident rates by 87 percent.

Wiltshire has designed and implemented award-winning safety programs, behavior-based training and loss control processes to create a culture of safety at ECS, Turner, Clark, AvalonBay and other construction firms in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in addition to a stint as a compliance safety and health officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Among his many contributions to Occupational Safety and Health Administration committees, industry stakeholder groups and advisory councils, he has been an active member of ABC’s Health, Safety and Environment Committee for more than 20 years. Wiltshire earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Wilmington University and a master’s degree in safety management from West Virginia University.

ABC Reports: U.S. Labor Market Resurgent in June; Construction Adds 16,000 Jobs

National construction employment added 16,000 net new jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in June, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).  Overall construction employment expanded 3.1 percent on a year-over-year basis, easily outpacing the year-over-year growth rate of 1.6 percent for all nonfarm industries.

The nonresidential construction sector added 10,300 net new jobs in June after adding 4,900 in May (revised upward from 4,400 jobs), while the residential sector added 6,000 net jobs for the month.

The construction industry unemployment rate, which fell 1 percentage point in May, declined further in June and now stands at just 4.5 percent.  Construction unemployment tends to decline in the summer.  However, the decline in unemployment is still significant because industry unemployment now stands near lows achieved in 2006.

“This jobs report is just what the doctor ordered,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.  “June’s employment gains impressed along every dimension.  In addition to a robust headline of 222,000 jobs created, the labor force participation rate ticked higher to 62.8 percent from 62.7 percent and the employment-to-population ratio edged higher to 60.1 percent from 60.0 percent.  While the labor force participation rate is only a bit higher than it was a year ago, the employment-to-population ratio is up 0.5 percent.  Idleness has been on the decline in America, at least based upon the latter measure.

“Construction job growth represents an important part of the story.  The majority of construction job gains in June were in nonresidential construction, though performance within the nonresidential building and heavy/civil engineering segments was subdued.  Within nonresidential construction, nonresidential specialty trade contractors represented more than 100 percent of job gains,” continued Basu.

Prior to June, the nation had failed to add 200,000 or more jobs in five of eight months.  June was a welcome respite from an emerging trend of softening job growth.  However, the acceleration in job creation may not last.  Job gains in June were likely aided by high school and post-secondary graduations, resulting in a surge in new job seekers and more opportunities to fill available job openings.  America continues to face structural shortfalls in skilled human capital, something that construction industry leaders know all too well.”

June 2017 Construction Employment

Despite Lofty Backlog, Nonresidential Construction Spending Remains Stagnant in May, Says ABC

Nonresidential construction spending expanded by 0.3 percent on both a monthly and yearly basis in May and stands at $714.3 billion on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, according to analysis of a report from the U.S. Census Bureau released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

Private nonresidential construction spending fell to $433.6 billion in May, a decline of 0.7 percent. Private nonresidential construction is now at its 2017 nadir, though it is 0.8 percent higher than one year ago. Contrary to the prevailing trend, public nonresidential construction spending rose 1.9 percent in May on a monthly basis but remains 0.5 percent lower than in May 2016.

“Interpreting nonresidential construction spending data has become more challenging in recent months,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Among the sources of perplexity is the fact that the nonresidential construction spending data do not align neatly with trends in other key data.

“For instance, backlog remains strong and has been rising, according to and other recent industry surveys,” said Basu. “Construction employment has also continued to expand, consistent with the notion that the average contractor has been getting busier.  Industry stakeholder confidence remains reasonably high, though many industry participants continue to express alarm regarding growing construction skills shortages. But this sense of industry recovery is barely apparent in the nonresidential construction spending data, which indicate that spending has hardly expanded in nominal terms over the past year and is actually down in real terms.

“The other apparent inconsistency comes from the shift in construction spending growth from the private sector to the public sector,” said Basu.  “In prior quarters, it was private segments that drove industry-wide growth, particularly office, communications, lodging, amusement/recreation and commercial segments.  However, there has been some weakening in a handful of private segments recently, despite anecdotal information and survey data indicating elevated real estate developer confidence, low interest rates and busier architects.

“In May, it was public spending that led the way, including in the highway and street category, which has generally been a source of enormous disappointment since the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act became law in late 2015.  Whether the recent uptick in public construction spending is part of an emerging sustained trend or simply statistical anomaly is not clear.  What is clear is that overall nonresidential construction spending growth appears to be stalling, with many prospective purchasers of construction services having apparently adopted a wait-and-see attitude.”

ABC Reports: Nearly 200,000 Construction Added Since May 2016

Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 24 States 

In May, not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates were down in 24 states on a year-over-year basis, according to analysis released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). At the same time, the construction industry employed 192,000 more workers than in May 2016, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the national NSA construction unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, up 0.1 percent from a year ago.

Because these industry-specific rates are not seasonally adjusted, national and state-level unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis.

“Despite the year-over-year increase, this was the third lowest national not seasonally adjusted May construction unemployment rate on record and the second lowest rate since May 2000,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Also, as in April, all the states except two, Alaska and New Mexico, had estimated construction unemployment rates below 10 percent.”

Since the beginning of the data series in January 2000, the monthly movement in the national NSA construction unemployment rate from April to May has been a decrease every year, except one—2009. This trend continued in 2017 with a one percent rate drop in the NSA rate from April. Among the states, 39 had declines in their May estimated rate from April, and two (Arkansas and Rhode Island) saw no change.

The Top Five States

The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest rate to highest were:

  1. Vermont, 1.5 percent
  2. Iowa, 2.2 percent
  3. Idaho, 2.3 percent
  4. Colorado, 2.4 percent
  5. Indiana and North Dakota (tied), 2.5 percent

Four states—Colorado, Idaho, Indiana and Iowa—were also among the top five in April. Vermont, with a 1.5 percent estimated NSA construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states.

Colorado, with a 2.4 percent rate, had the fourth lowest rate in May, the state’s second lowest estimated May rate on record. Indiana rate was 2.5 percent, the lowest May rate on record and the third largest year-over-year decline among the states, down 2.1 percent. North Dakota’s 2.5 percent rate was lowest May rate on record.

New Hampshire, which had tied with Idaho and Indiana for lowest rate in April based on revised data, dropped to 15th lowest in May, with a 3.8 percent estimated construction unemployment rate. Despite New Hampshire having the country’s largest monthly increase, up 1.2 percent, it was the state’s second lowest May rate since 2004 (3.1 percent), behind last year’s 3.4 percent.

The Bottom Five States

The states with the highest NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest rates were:

46. Missouri, 7.9 percent

47. Mississippi, 8.4 percent

48. Pennsylvania, 9.3 percent

49. Alaska, 10.5 percent

50. New Mexico, 10.7 percent

Three of these states—Alaska, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in April. New Mexico had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in May, 10.7 percent, down from the second highest ranking in April.

Three of these states—Alaska, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in April. New Mexico had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in May, 10.7 percent, down from the second highest ranking in April.

Alaska ended its eight-month streak as the state with the highest construction unemployment rate, moving up to the second highest rate in May, 10.5 percent. A high unemployment rate for the state at this time of year is to be expected since these are not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates. Interestingly, the state posted the largest year-over-year increase (up 3.5 percent) in May while also posting the largest monthly rate drop in the country (down 5.8 percent).

Pennsylvania had the second largest year-over-year rate increase and the fourth largest monthly rate increase among the states. Mississippi had the sixth largest year-over-year increase in the country, up 1.2 percent, and the fifth largest monthly increase, up 0.7 percent. Missouri’s 1.5 percent year-over-year increase was the third largest in the country. Nonetheless, it was Missouri’s second lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2006 (6.1 percent), behind last year’s 6.4 percent rate.

Louisiana, which had the third highest rate in April, improved to 11th highest in May, along with Nevada and Ohio, with a 6.3 percent rate. It was Louisiana’s lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2006 (4.3 percent). Illinois, which had the fourth highest rate in April, improved to 17th highest in May, tied with Alabama, with a 5.9 percent rate. It was the state’s lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2000 (5.7 percent).

View states ranked by construction unemployment rate, year-over-year change in construction unemployment, monthly change in construction unemployment, a regional breakdown of states construction unemployment rates and unemployment rates for all industries. 

To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, see the article Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.

ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator Rebounds in 2017, Gains in All Categories During First Quarter

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today reported that its Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) rose to 9 months during the first quarter of 2017, up 8.1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016.  CBI is up by 0.4 months, or 4 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

“This was a terrific report,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “For the first time in the series’ history, every category—firm size, industry and region—registered quarterly growth in CBI. Among the big winners were firms in the western United States and those with annual revenues between $30 million and $50 million per annum.

“However, some contractors have expressed concerns regarding construction conditions in 2019 or 2020,” said Basu. “These concerns are rooted in a number of factors, including the already lengthy duration of the economic recovery, evidence of saturation in certain commercial real estate markets, weak momentum in numerous public spending categories and tightening monetary conditions. However, first quarter 2017 CBI strongly suggests that rumors of the business cycle’s demise are exaggerated, at least thus far.

“Because of these and other emerging concerns, ABC’s CBI measure is arguably more important than usual,” said Basu. “Backlog is a leading indicator, and meaningful declines in CBI could potentially confirm fears that the current construction spending expansion cycle is winding to a close.”

Highlights by Region

  • Surging financial markets helped support activity in financial centers like New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Expanding cyber-security and life sciences activity supported markets as geographically diverse as Washington/Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Silicon Valley, Calif., and Seattle.
  • Though backlog is slightly lower in the South on a year-over-year basis, it continues to report the lengthiest backlog, at 9.8 months. A number of markets remain extraordinarily active with respect to commercial construction, including Atlanta and Miami and Tampa, Fla. Distribution center construction also continues to be active due to a combination of busier seaports and the ongoing online retail boom.
  • Backlog in the West was up by a remarkable 26 percent during the quarter.  Part of this was due to statistical payback after a surprisingly weak fourth quarter. However, this is also a reflection of the rapid commercial growth in Seattle, Denver, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Phoenix and other population growth hotspots.
  • Higher oil and natural gas prices helped to drive CBI higher in the Middle States. Backlog in the region expanded by a more-than-respectable 10 percent during the first quarter, and now stands at a healthy 8.5 months.  Chicago continues to be a weak spot, however, registering slow job growth relative to other major U.S. metropolitan areas in recent quarters.
  • Backlog in the Northeast rose to 8.7 months during the first quarter. Backlog is up by almost precisely half a month over the past year. The New York and Boston metropolitan areas remain particularly active.

 

Highlights by Industry 

  • Backlog in the commercial/institutional segment rose by more than 11 percent during the first quarter, and now stands at nearly 9 months. Backlog also expanded in the heavy industrial and infrastructure categories during the first three months of the year.
  • Average backlog in the heavy industrial category rose to 5.88 months, but remains well below levels registered during much of the history of the series.  Excluding the fourth quarter of 2016, this represents the lowest reading since the fourth quarter of 2014. There are many forces at work, including slowing auto sales, downward pressure on prices in a number of key manufacturing segments and soft exports.
  • Backlog in the infrastructure category expanded during the first quarter and remains above historic levels. Actual infrastructure spending has been unimpressive in many categories recently, including wastewater, water supply, dams/levies and highway/street. Available survey data hint at a bit of a pickup in activity during the quarters ahead.
  • Commercial/institutional backlog expanded to 8.9 months, matching its highest level since the third quarter of 2014. Though there are growing concerns regarding overbuilding in a number of metropolitan areas, and retail stores continue to close in large numbers, increases in office and hotel construction are helping to propel this category forward.

Highlights by Company Size

  • Backlog for each of the four company size categories increased to start the year.  Firms with revenues of $30 million to $50 million, many of which are in the commercial/institutional segments, were the clear outperformers in terms of expanding backlog during the first quarter of 2017. Backlog for this group of firms expanded by more than two months, indicating growing confidence among developers and other purchasers of construction services
  • Backlog among firms with annual revenues of less than $30 million increased by 5.3 percent during the quarter. Over the course of time, the nonresidential construction recovery has broadened enough to encompass many of the smallest firms.
  • The largest firms, those with annual revenues above $100 million and which are disproportionately represented in the infrastructure category, report the lengthiest backlog at 11.8 months. This was up by more than 9 percent during the quarter.  Backlog for this group is approaching the one-year mark, which is considered to be a sign of significant health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CBI is a leading economic indicator that reflects the amount of construction work under contract, but not yet completed.

CBI is measured in months, with a lengthening backlog implying expanding demand for construction services. More charts and graphs are available on abc.org