Tag Archive for 'ABC'

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ABC Says, U.S. Economic Growth Accelerates in Second Quarter; Nonresidential Fixed Investment Maintains Momentum

Real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 2.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis during the year’s second quarter, according to Associated Builders and Contractors’ analysis of data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Nonresidential fixed investment, a category of GDP embodying nonresidential construction activity, expanded at a 5.2 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate. This follows a 7.2 percent expansion during the first quarter.

The expansion in nonresidential fixed investment indicates that growth in business outlays continues to support the ongoing economic recovery, now in its ninth year.  The expansion of nonresidential fixed investment contributed more than sixth-tenths of a percentage point to GDP growth.  This was due in large measure to an uptick in investment in construction equipment.  The other two components of nonresidential fixed investment—investment in structures and intellectual property—also expanded, but at a slower pace.

“This was a good report from the perspective of the nation’s nonresidential construction firms, particularly those primarily engaged in private as opposed to public construction,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.  “The uptick in investment in construction equipment is particularly noteworthy because it signals a general belief that construction activity will continue to recover in America.  Backlog among many nonresidential construction firms is already healthy, and today’s report suggests that backlog is not set to decline in any meaningful way anytime soon.

“One might wonder why construction firms remain so busy in an economic environment still characterized by roughly 2 percent growth,” said Basu.  “There are many factors at work, including the ongoing boom of the e-commerce economy, which has continued to trigger demand for massive fulfillment and distribution centers even as stores close in massive numbers at America’s malls.  The influx of global investment to a number of segments, including hotel and office construction, also helps explain disproportionate growth in certain private categories.  With global fixed-income yields remaining so low, investors from around the world, including from the United States, are likely to continue to seek out opportunities for higher rates of return in commercial real estate, which thus far has had the impact of increasing property values and triggering construction.

“For the broader economy to accelerate, policymakers in Washington, D.C., will need to begin to make progress on corporate tax relief and infrastructure,” said Basu.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Visit ABC Construction Economics for the Construction Backlog Indicator, Construction Confidence Index and state unemployment reports, plus analysis of spending, employment, GDP and the Producer Price Index.

 

 

ABC Calls on Congress to Support Expansion of Construction Apprenticeship Programs

Michael Bennett, vice president of the Cianbro Cos., Pittsfield, Maine, today told Congress that industry-driven training programs should play a bigger role in government efforts to close the workforce/skills gap that has left 500,000 construction jobs unfilled in the United States today. Bennett testified on behalf of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development to call for support for President Trump’s recent executive order expanding apprenticeships, which would help ensure job seekers get exactly the training required for success in today’s job market.

“At Associated Builders and Contractors, as with Cianbro, we support all workforce programs that develop people and help them reach their potential, whether they’re government-defined, like apprenticeships, or industry-driven,” said Bennett.  “As we look at the holistic picture of workforce development, successful models combine technical knowledge and proficiency through hands-on application and on-the-job experience. When you employ the earn-while-you-learn model and support individuals with lifelong learning and mentoring, the opportunities are endless.”

Bennett called for flexibility in designing apprenticeship and other types of training programs in an “all-of-the-above” approach to workforce development that aligns with the needs of the educational system and businesses, including:

  • Creating multiple pathways to excellence for apprentices;
  • Establishing reciprocity across federal and state apprenticeship councils;
  • Allowing nationally recognized, portable, industry-recognized credentialing programs with third-party oversight, including targeted programs for high-demand skills; and
  • Ensuring that such programs are industry- and market-driven, competency-based and flexible in structure, scheduling and duration to address industry needs.

“Industry-recognized programs come in all shapes and sizes, and that is the beauty of them: they provide for the highest level of flexibility that benefits the worker, their company and their client,” Bennett said. “Industry-recognized programs give students, veterans, second-chance seekers and the entire American public an opportunity to learn a skill, develop themselves and build their careers. They  are the best tools available right now.”

For more information on careers in construction, visit workforce.abc.org.

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.”