Tag Archive for 'ABC'

Page 3 of 39

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Fixed Investment Falls in Second Quarter

CEU2“In the first half of 2015, both the broader economy and nonresidential investment lost the momentum they had coming into the year.” ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

GDP_Q2_2015Nonresidential fixed investment fell by 0.6 percent during the second quarter after expanding by 1.6 percent during the first quarter, according to the July 30 real gross domestic product (GDP) report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). For the economy as a whole, real GDP expanded by 2.3 percent (seasonally adjusted annual rate) during the second quarter following a 0.6 percent increase during the year’s first quarter. Note that the first quarter estimate for nonresidential fixed investment was revised upward from -3.4 percent annualized growth.

“In the first half of 2015, both the broader economy and nonresidential investment lost the momentum they had coming into the year,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Rather than indicating renewed progress in terms of achieving a more robust recovery, today’s GDP release indicates that a variety of factors helped to stall investment in nonresidential structures. There are many viable explanations, including a weaker overall U.S. economy, a stronger U.S. dollar, decreased investment in structures related to the nation’s energy sector, soft public spending, and uncertainty regarding monetary policy and other abstracts of public policy. While the expectation is that the second half of the year will be better, unfortunately not much momentum is being delivered by the year’s initial six months.

“Perhaps the most salient facet of this GDP release was the revisions,” said Basu. “The BEA revised the first quarter estimate upward from -0.2 percent to 0.6 percent annualized growth. This is not surprising; many economists insisted that the economy did not shrink in the first quarter. However, the BEA also downwardly revised growth figures from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2014. Over that period, GDP increased at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent, 0.3 percentage points lower than previously thought. These revisions could be a function of the agency’s ongoing effort to tackle residual seasonality, a pattern in which seasonal adjustments led to repeated first quarter slowdowns. It will take a few more quarters to understand the full impact of the improved seasonal adjustments.”

Performance of key segments during the first quarter:

  • Investment in nonresidential structures decreased at a 1.6 percent rate after decreasing at a 7.4 percent rate in the first quarter.
  • Personal consumption expenditures added 1.99 percent to GDP after contributing 1.19 percent in the first quarter.
  • Spending on goods grew 1.1 percent from the first quarter.
  • Real final sales of domestically produced output – minus changes in private inventories – increased 2.5 percent for the second quarter after a 2.5 percent increase in the first quarter.
  • Federal government spending decreased 1.1 percent in the second quarter after increasing by 1.1 percent in the first quarter.
  • Nondefense spending decreased 0.5 percent after expanding by 1.2 percent in the previous quarter.
  • National defense spending fell 1.5 percent after growing 1 percent in the first quarter.
  • State and local government spending grew 2 percent during the second quarter after a decrease of 0.8 percent in the first.

To view the previous GDP report, click here .

ABC Reports: June Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 45 States from 2014


Analysis by Bernard Markstein

Construction employment stalled nationally on a seasonally adjusted (SA) basis in June. However, as expected, not seasonally adjusted (NSA) employment increased from May. The result was that 38 states experienced a decline in their estimated NSA construction unemployment rate.

Construction activity and employment continues to improve from a year ago. Thus, on a year-over-year basis, the NSA construction unemployment rates for the country and 45 states were down in June.

For the first half of the year, SA construction jobs rose 105,000, while the industry added 262,000 jobs from June 2014 to June 2015 on an NSA basis.

The Census Bureau reported on July 1 that total SA nominal (current) dollar construction spending increased 0.8 percent in May. Nonresidential construction spending, which struggled in 2014, has advanced for four consecutive months. Total construction spending increased for six months straight.

The Top Five States

The five states with the lowest construction unemployment rates were:

  1. South Dakota*
  2. Nebraska*
  3. North Dakota
  4. Idaho and Montana (tie)

* Unemployment Rate for Construction and Mining

All of the top five states are in the same geographic region, although the Census Bureau places Idaho and Montana in a different census division (West North Central for Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota; Mountain for Idaho and Montana). Wyoming, which would fit in neatly with this group (part of the Mountain census division), was just out of the top five at number six (up from number eight in May).

Four of the top five states were also among the top five in May with a somewhat different order. South Dakota moved into the number one spot from being tied for second with North Dakota in May. Nebraska slipped into the second position from the first in May.

North Dakota fell to third place with the decline in its position, undoubtedly largely due to the slump in oil prices and the resulting slowdown in exploration and drilling new wells. Nonetheless, both the construction unemployment rate and the overall state unemployment rate are at a low level that other states would envy.

Fourth place was a tie between Idaho and Montana. For Idaho, June’s ranking was an improvement from its number seven position in May. Montana moved up from fifth place in May based on revised data (it had previously been in fourth place). Maryland, with a construction and mining unemployment rate,  took over Montana’s fourth place in May based on revised data (originally reported as number five) but fell to tenth place in June in a tie with Utah, which also held tenth place in May.

The Bottom Five States

The five states with the highest construction unemployment rates (from lowest to highest) were:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Georgia and West Virginia (tie)
  4. Mississippi

Three of the states with the five highest construction unemployment rates in May were among the five highest in June: Georgia, Mississippi and Rhode Island. For the second month in a row, Mississippi had the highest rate in the nation. On the positive side, the estimated construction unemployment rate for all 50 states fell below 10 percent for the first time since October 2014.

Georgia and West Virginia were tied for second highest in June. Georgia also had the second highest rate in May based on revised data (originally reported as third highest). West Virginia moved from tied with Connecticut and Missouri for eleventh highest in May to its tie with Georgia for second highest rate in June. West Virginia was one of five states with a year-over-year increase in their estimated construction unemployment rates and one of 12 states with an increase from their May rate. Among those 12 states, West Virginia along with New Hampshire had the largest monthly increase—1.6 percent.

Rhode Island moved from fifth highest in May based on revised data (originally reported as sixth highest) to fourth highest in June. New Mexico took Rhode Island’s fifth place position in June moving down from 17th highest in May.

New Jersey and South Carolina, which tied for third highest in May based on revised data, were sixth and seventh highest, respectively, in June. Alabama and California tied with South Carolina for seventh highest in June. In May, California’s construction unemployment rate was also seventh highest, while Alabama’s rate was sixth highest based on revised data (originally reported as fifth highest).

State_RankingRead more on ABC’s website.


Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) launched its state-by-state economic analysis earlier this year with the release of economist Bernard M. Markstein’s analysis of construction’s contribution to each state’s gross domestic product (GDP). ABC will be releasing Markstein’s next analysis of GDP data August 11, 2015

Unique to ABC, Markstein’s state-level construction unemployment estimate and analysis of state-level construction job markets for June is below. This analysis is produced monthy in addition to ABC’s existing national economic data and analysis. Background on how the data was derived and Markstein’s methodology is available on ABC’s website. 

New Wave of TV, Print, Radio & Digital Ads Target Members of Congress & General Public on Highway Trust Fund Fix

ee0d071a-4431-491a-ae5f-0d9154114fae1982 Reagan Gas Tax Proposal Highlighted

The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and industry allies have launched a new television, radio, print advertising campaign to put increased pressure on Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), and boost federal highway and public transit investment.  The TCC is also utilizing digital ads asking commuters in key states to contact their congressmen and senators on the issue.

The effort highlights how conservative and tax-cutting champion President Ronald Reagan got it right when he said that “common sense” tells us that it’s less expansive to keep our transportation infrastructure in good repair than to let it crumble and have to rebuild.

Reagan also was on the money when he added that, wherever possible, assessing a fee on the people who benefit from a public service is “good tax policy” to pay for that service.

“Our highways were built largely with such a user fee – the gasoline tax,” Reagan said in a November 1982 radio address to the nation. “I think it makes sense to follow that principle in restoring them to the condition we all want them to be in.”

The 60-second television ad, sponsored by the TCC and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), airs June 16-18 on Fox News and CNN inside Washington, D.C., and is scheduled to coincide with this week’s House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committee hearings on the future of transportation financing.  Watch the ad.

The latest funding authorization for the highway and public transit program supported through the HTF expires July 31.  Congress continues to struggle in reaching agreement on a sustainable funding solution.

The TCC is also rolling out a 60-second radio ad featuring Reagan, which airs June 16-18 during morning and afternoon drive time on WTOP, D.C.’s top news-talk station.  Listen to the spot.

Complimentary, full-page TCC print ads will appear this week in Capitol Hill publications.  The ads call for an increase in the federal gas tax and note that nearly 90 percent of Republican and Democratic state legislators who voted to increase their state’s gas tax or equivalent during the last election cycle to fund transportation improvements were re-elected.  The TCC has also placed companion digital ads targeting congressional staff.

The TCC initiative extends beyond the Nation’s Capital and features digital advertising targeting voters in the states of these congressional and tax committee leaders:

  • House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
  • House Speaker John Boehner
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
  • House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)
  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
  • Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
  • Tom Price Price (R-Ga.) Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)
  • Todd Young (R-Ind.)
  • Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
  • Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

When clicked on the digital ads will take voters to a petition  that they can sign and have sent to their respective members of Congress.

The TCC says it plans to continue a wide-range of advertising and grassroots activities in the run up to the July 31 deadline to keep the pressure on Congress to fix the HTF and then pivot to passage of a long-term surface transportation bill.

Established in 1996 and co-chaired by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America, the 31 associations and labor unions that make up the TCC have a direct market interest in the federal transportation program.  TCC members include:

American Road & Transportation Builders Association (co-chair); Associated General Contractors of America (co-chair); American Coal Ash Association; American Concrete Pavement Association; American Concrete Pipe Association; American Council of Engineering Companies; American Subcontractors Association; American Iron and Steel Institute; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Traffic Safety Services Association; Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association; Asphalt Recycling & Reclaiming Association; Associated Equipment Distributors; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; International Slurry Surfacing Association; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers; International Union of Operating Engineers; Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust; Laborers’ International Union of North America; National Asphalt Pavement Association; National Association of Surety Bond Producers; National Electrical Contractors Association;  National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; National Steel Bridge Alliance; National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association; National Utility Contractors Association; Portland Cement Association; Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute; The Road Information Program; and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

ABC Construction Economic Update

NRAssociated Builders and Contractors (ABC) launched its state-by-state economic analysis earlier this year with the release of economist Bernard Markstein’s  analysis of construction’s contribution to each state’s gross domestic product. Markstein also compiles the construction unemployment rate of each state, each month. Unique to ABC, Markstein’s analysis of the construction job market and unemployment rate in each state for April is below. 

This analysis is produced monthly in addition to ABC’s existing national economic data and analysis. Background on how the data was derived and Markstein’s methodology is available on ABC’s website. Markstein is also available for an interview to provide further analysis


The United States economy, along with the construction economy, struggled through the first quarter as the nation was battered with unusually harsh weather. As of the May 29 U.S. Department of Commerce report, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) fell 0.7% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). The June 1 construction spending report showed that nominal (current) dollar construction spending was down 0.5% (SAAR), but on a not seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis was up 3.7% compared to first quarter 2014.

Indications show that with better weather, the economy and construction are rebounding from that poor performance in the first quarter. For the first four months of the year, NSA construction spending was 4.1% higher than the same period a year ago. Among the big gainers in construction spending for the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2014 were manufacturing (+42.0%), lodging (+15.9%), office (+18.5%), commercial (16.7%) and multifamily (+26.3%).

With the combination of improving weather and a rebound from a dismal first quarter, hiring in construction has improved. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that April seasonally adjusted (SA) construction jobs for the United States increased by 45,000 and that year-to-date SA construction jobs were up 108,000. Additionally, NSA construction employment has increased by 300,000 on a year-over-year basis.

The April NSA construction unemployment rate for the country and the estimated construction unemployment rates for 49 states declined from their respective March rates. Only Hawaii, whose unemployment rate includes mining, rose from its March estimate. The year-over-year change in the construction unemployment rates provides an even better indication of how construction industry employment is progressing. Construction unemployment rates for 45 of the 50 states and the U.S. rate were down in April 2015 from April 2014.

The Top Five States

The five states with the lowest construction unemployment rates (the construction and mining unemployment rates where noted below) from highest to lowest were:

  •   Wyoming
  •   South Dakota*
  •   Nebraska*
  •   North Dakota
  •   Utah

* Includes construction and mining unemployment rate

The top four—Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and North Dakota—are in the same geographic area, with fifth-ranked Utah nearby. Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota and Utah were also among the five states with the lowest construction unemployment rates in March. Note that Montana, which would fit in geographically with the top four, had the eighth lowest construction unemployment rate.

Wyoming took over first place from Nebraska, which fell to number three. This was an exchange of their March rankings mainly due to Wyoming’s larger drop in its construction unemployment rate rather than poor performance on Nebraska’s part.

Second place South Dakota moved up from a revised fourth place in March (originally estimated as sixth place) sending North Dakota to fourth place in April. Finally, Utah held its fifth place rank between the two months.

The Bottom Five States

The five states with the highest construction unemployment rates (from highest to lowest) were:

  •   West Virginia
  •   Georgia
  •   California
  •   Rhode Island
  •   Connecticut

Among the states with the five highest construction unemployment rates in April, four of the five remained the same as in March, though in a different order. West Virginia went from third highest in March to highest in April. It was also the only state in the bottom five that saw its construction unemployment rate increase on a year-over-year basis.

The West Virginia economy has been struggling in recent months as the state has suffered setbacks in one of its major industries—coal. That has been compounded by the drop in energy prices, adversely affecting its natural gas industry. Also, as West Virginia has become more export oriented, the rise in the foreign exchange value of the dollar has been another drag on its economy. In terms of construction, from April 2014 to April 2015, West Virginia had the greatest loss of construction jobs of any state both on a percentage and absolute number basis.

Georgia went from fifth highest construction unemployment rate in March to second highest in April even as it experienced a solid 2.2% drop in that rate from April 2014. Georgia’s decline in the rankings is less about a poor economy (although its construction unemployment rate is in the low double digits) than that other states improved more.

This also appears to be the case for California whose construction unemployment rate went from tied for tenth highest in March to third highest in April. Again, although that rate fell both on a monthly and a year-over-year basis, it remained in the low double digits.

Rhode Island improved from the worst construction unemployment rate in March to fourth worst in April. New Jersey, which was fourth worst in March, also improved three notches to seventh worst as its April rate fell to just below 10%.

Connecticut was another state moving up three places from second worst in March to fifth worst in April. Both of these New England states, Rhode Island and Connecticut, have suffered from a harsh winter and a slow recovery from the recession, but appear to be showing some signs of life.


Most states are showing improvement from a difficult first quarter. This results in some relatively large percentage increases in some of the numbers (e.g., April SA total housing starts jumped 20%). However, when taking a longer-term overview and averaging out those fluctuations, the economic picture is one of slow but steady advancement. It seems unlikely there will be any sustained surge in activity anytime soon, but no serious backsliding either. Although greater growth would be preferred, slow and steady beats a decline in activity.

Read more on ABC’s website.

ABC Reports: Construction Materials Prices Remain Tame in April

CEU2“April marks only the second time that price increases have been so suppressed over such a prolonged period.” —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

PPI_April15Prices for inputs to construction industries fell by 0.1 percent in April, ending a two month streak during which material prices expanded by greater than 0.4 percent. Prices have now fallen in six of the previous eight months and input prices are also down on a year-over-year basis, falling 4 percent since April 2014. This represents the greatest year-over-year decline since October 2009 and year-over-year input prices have now declined for 5 straight months after expanding in each of the previous 60 months. Prices for inputs to nonresidential construction showed a similar decline, falling 0.1 percent for the month and 5.1 percent year-over-year. Crude petroleum prices expanded for only the second time in the previous ten months, growing by 13.1 percent, the largest month-over-month increase since November 2011.

“Construction input prices have now fallen by greater three percent on a yearly-basis in each of the year’s first four months,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This is only the second time that price increases have been so suppressed over such a prolonged period and the first since the middle of the financial crisis in the second and third quarter of 2009. That said, the underlying dynamics of this period of downward trending prices are fundamentally different than those experienced in 2009.

“Two major factors contributed to April’s falling prices,” said Basu. “The strong U.S. dollar, which has expanded by over ten percent against the currencies of the United States’ primary trading partners, has neutralized any underlying inflationary pressures. The other key factor in the subdued price growth is lower energy prices. Consider that prices for crude petroleum, natural gas, and crude energy materials are all over 40 percent lower than in April 2014.

“The U.S. economy continues to disappoint as the expectation had been that the U.S. economy would significantly outperform the balance of the advanced world’s economy this year,” said Basu. “While there is still a chance that that could happen, several sectors of the economy continue to underperform, none worse than retail. Data released yesterday indicate that sales remain flat despite improved weather.

“One of the byproducts of a slow economic start has been a weakening dollar,” said Basu. “Most forecasters had predicted that the U.S. dollar would march toward parity with the Euro. That hasn’t happened and as of this morning, one euro buys $1.14. A weakening dollar is consistent with rising input prices, and should lead to renewed price growth in the near future. For now, however, the impact of previous increases in the value of the dollar are dominating price dynamics.”

Only four of the key materials prices increased in April.

  • Softwood lumber prices expanded 2.6 percent but are 4.7 percent lower than one year ago.
  • Crude petroleum prices expanded 13.1 percent in April but are down 50.4 percent from the same time last year.
  • Crude energy materials prices gained 1.7 percent in April but are 42.2 percent lower year-over-year.
  • Concrete products prices grew 1.3 percent in April and are up 5.1 percent on a yearly basis.

Seven of the 11 key construction inputs did not expand for the month.

  • Fabricated structural metal product prices dropped 0.5 percent lower for the month but have expanded 0.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • Natural gas prices fell 11.8 percent in April and are down 47.9 percent from the same time one year ago.
  • Prices for plumbing fixtures fell 0.1 percent in April, but are up 1.5 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • Prices for prepared asphalt, tar roofing, and siding fell 2.5 percent for the month and are down 1.9 percent on a year-ago basis.
  • Iron and steel prices fell 2 percent in April and are down 14.5 percent from the same time last year.
  • Steel mill products prices fell 3.4 percent for the month and are 8.7 percent lower than one year ago.
  • Nonferrous wire and cable prices fell 0.3 percent on a monthly basis and shed 2.8 percent on a yearly basis.

To view the previous PPI report, click here