Tag Archive for 'construction industry'

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ABC Reports: Construction Materials Dip for Second Consecutive Month


CEU2“Commodity markets were particularly frenzied in August due to a series of events in China, Brazil, Iran and other parts of the world.” —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu

PPI_Aug15 Prices for inputs to construction industries declined 0.1 percent in July after increasing 0.2 percent in June, according to the Aug. 14 producer price index release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Year-over-year prices were down 3 percent in July and have been down on an annual basis for each of the past eight months. Prices of inputs to nonresidential construction industries declined 0.3 percent on a monthly basis and are down 3.9 percent on a yearly basis.

Prices for inputs to the construction industry fell 0.9 percent in August after shedding 0.1 percent in July. Inputs to nonresidential construction behaved similarly, losing 0.8 percent for the month and 4.7 percent for the year.

On a year-over-year basis, prices were down 3.9 percent for the month and have fallen by at least 2.8 percent in each month this year. Prices have now fallen on a yearly basis in nine consecutive months, the longest such streak since March to November of 2009.

“Commodity markets were particularly frenzied in August due to a series of events in China, Brazil, Iran and other parts of the world,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The result is that input prices continue to slide lower, defying predictions from earlier this year suggesting that commodity prices would stabilize and at some point head higher. Global demand remains low and there is a chance that prices could fall even lower during the months ahead.

“This is good news for most contractors, with the obvious exception being those in commodity-rich communities,” said Basu. “Already, North Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Alaska are deemed to be at risk of recession, and the ongoing slide in commodity prices will only serve to further weaken those economies and suppress overall construction activity.”

Only three key input prices rose in August. The key input prices that increased in August are:

  • Prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding expanded 2.2 percent for the month and 2.4 percent for the year.
  • Natural gas prices expanded 2.2 percent on a monthly basis but are down 29.2 percent for the year.
  • Plumbing fixtures and fittings expanded 0.2 percent from July and are up 1.2 percent from August 2014.

The key input prices that fell or remained flat include:

  • Crude energy materials prices fell 9.5 percent in August and are down 40.5 percent from the same time last year.
  • Fabricated structural metal product prices remained unchanged for the month and are down 0.4 percent on the year.
  • Iron and steel prices fell 2.9 percent for the month and 17.6 percent for the year.
  • Prices for steel mill products fell 0.7 percent from last month and 14.1 percent from last year.
  • Nonferrous wire and cable prices are down 1.1 percent in August and 6.9 percent from the same time last year.
  • Softwood lumber prices fell 3.2 percent on a monthly basis and 7.5 percent on a yearly basis.
  • Prices for concrete products inched 0.2 percent lower in August but are up 2.6 percent from the same time last year.
  • Crude petroleum prices plummeted 20 percent in August and are down 57.3 percent from the same time last year.

To view the previous PPI report, click here.

ABC Reports: Construction Activity Increases as Backlog Edges Higher

Untitled-2Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) expanded by 1 percent to 8.5 months during the 2nd quarter of 2015. Backlog declined 3 percent during the 1st quarter, which was punctuated by harsh winter weather and the lingering effects of the West Coast ports slowdown. CBI stands roughly where it did a year ago, indicative of an ongoing recovery in the nation’s nonresidential construction industry.


“The nation’s nonresidential construction industry is now one of America’s leading engines of growth,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The broader U.S. economic recovery is now in its 74th month, but remains under-diversified, led primarily by a combination of consumer spending growth as well as residential and nonresidential construction recovery. Were the overall economy in better shape, the performance of nonresidential construction would not be as closely watched. The economic recovery remains fragile despite a solid GDP growth figure for the second quarter, and must at some point negotiate an interest-rate tightening cycle. Recent stock market volatility has served to remind all stakeholders how delicate the economic recovery continues to be.

“Though CBI expanded during the second quarter, performance continues to be uneven,” Basu said.  “A surge in heavy-industrial investment in the Middle States, including in the auto sector, and technology-led growth in the West were responsible for the bulk of second-quarter momentum. Backlog actually slipped in the infrastructure category, which remains hamstrung by uncertainties lingering around the Highway Trust Fund. Backlog was not statistically significantly different in the South between the first and second quarters.

“The national outlook continues to be positive,” said Basu. “The most consistently upbeat information regarding U.S. economic performance continues to emerge from the labor market. The nation added more than 2.9 million jobs between July 2014 and July 2015, enough to help drive down office and other commercial vacancy rates in many major markets despite ongoing construction.

“Also consider the tendency for commercial construction to follow residential construction. To the extent that remains true, the recent uptick in residential starts should translate into more commercial starts going forward. All of this should set the stage for further rebounds in CBI during the quarters to come, even in the absence of a long-term policy regarding infrastructure investment in the U.S.”

For additional analysis click here.

Regional Highlights

  • The West experienced a significant expansion in backlog, rising 1.2 months following the resolution of the West Coast port slowdown, however backlog in the region remains nearly 2.5 months below its year-ago levels, the largest drop of any region.
  • Backlog in the South has essentially returned to where it was two years ago, in part because of a slowdown in energy-related investment. The implication is that the average contractor remains busy, but boom-like conditions no longer prevail in energy-intensive communities.
  • Despite this, backlog in the South continue to hold the longest average construction backlog.
  • Backlog slipped for a second consecutive quarter in the Northeast, but remains above levels registered during the second half of 2013.


Year-Over-Year CBI Map of Regions and Backlog Months
Second Quarter 2014 v. Second Quarter 2015Untitled-3

See Charts and Graphs

Highlights by Company Size

  • On a quarterly basis, backlog rose or remained flat across all firm sizes.
  • Average construction backlog is higher or roughly the same as year-ago levels for firms of all size categories with the exception of a half-month drop in backlog among firms generating $100 million or more in annual revenues.
  • TThe largest firms, however, continue to have the lengthiest average backlog at 10.7 months.

See Charts and Graphs


To read more about the latest CBI, click  here

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Employment Downtick No Cause for Concern

CEU2“Today’s employment numbers are consistent with the notion that the U.S. economy and the construction sector remain in recovery.”—ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Employment 9.4Nonresidential construction employment fell by 700 jobs in August after losing 5,600 jobs in July and 800 jobs in June. Despite the recent slide, nonresidential construction employment is still up 38,800 jobs for the year.

Total U.S. construction industry employment inched higher again in August, expanding by a modest 3,000 net new jobs from July, an increase of less than 0.1 percent. Residential construction and the heavy and civil engineering segment added 2,400 and 1,500 net new jobs in August, respectively.

“The recent slide in nonresidential construction employment is likely an aberration caused by seasonal adjustments,” said Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors’ chief economist. “The first estimate of August employment tends to be low across all industries, and next month’s revisions may well show job growth in nonresidential construction. It’s also true that the construction industry tends to lag the broader economy. Considering that August was the 66th consecutive month of private-sector job growth—the longest streak ever—there’s plenty of reason for optimism about the construction industry’s economic health.

“The nationwide unemployment rate fell for all the right reasons,” said Basu. “There were 1.5 million fewer unemployed persons in August than July and nearly 200,000 more employed persons. Even the employment-to-population ratio rose, if only by 0.1 percentage points. The upward trend in the construction unemployment rate also represents a positive change. A higher—though still historically low—unemployment rate is not necessarily bad news for an industry plagued by skilled labor shortages.

“We are in the mid-cycle stage of the recovery, which is frequently the lengthiest stage of the business cycle,” said Basu. “This phase is associated with solid job growth, low and/or falling unemployment, respectable GDP growth, and significant construction volume. It is also associated with rising interest rates. Today’s employment numbers are consistent with the notion that the U.S. economy and the construction sector remain in recovery.”

The construction unemployment rate added 0.6 percentage points in August and now stands at 6.1 percent. This is a sizable increase from July’s eight-year low, though it’s not necessarily a bad sign for an industry that has been plagued by labor shortages. The unemployment rate across all industries shed 0.2 percentage points, reaching a seven-year low of 5.1 percent.

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:

  • Nonresidential building construction employment fell by 1,600 jobs for the month but is up by 15,500 jobs or 2.2 percent since August 2014.
  • Residential building construction employment expanded by 200 jobs in August and is up by 27,000 jobs or 4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 900 jobs for the month and employment in that classification is up by 60,000 jobs or 2.7 percent from the same time a year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors added 2,200 net new jobs in August and have added 84,000 jobs or 5 percent since August 2014.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment added 1,500 jobs in August and employment is up by 32,800 positions or 3.6 percent on a year-over-year basis.

To view the previous employment report, click here.

Action Needed to Reduce Traffic Congestion’s Impact on Drivers, Businesses and Local Economies

America’s traffic congestion recession is over. Just as the U.S. economy has regained nearly all of the 9 million jobs lost during the downturn, a new report

produced by INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) shows that traffic congestion has returned to pre-recession levels.

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours – 42 hours per rush-hour commuter. The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter.

Washington, D.C. tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours).

The problem has become so bad in major urban areas that drivers have to plan more than twice as much travel time as they would need to arrive on time in light traffic just to account for the effects of irregular delays such as bad weather, collisions, and construction zones. For example, drivers on America’s Top 10 worst roads waste on average 84 hours or 3.5 days a year on average in gridlock – twice the national average. Of these roads, six are in Los Angeles, two are in New York and the remaining two are in Chicago. Nine other cities have roads ranked among the 50 worst.

Scorecard findings also illustrate how traffic congestion isn’t just a big-city issue. Cities of all sizes are experiencing the challenges seen before the start of the recession – increased traffic congestion resulting from growing urban populations and lower fuel prices are outpacing the nation’s ability to build infrastructure. Of America’s Top 10 Worst Traffic cities, 7 of them experienced population growth outpacing the national average of 0.7 percent last year, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Houston and Riverside, CA. Additionally, some of the worst traffic cities also experienced some of the largest decreases in fuel prices (-4.1 percent nationally) including Riverside, Houston, Los Angeles, San Jose, Boston and Chicago. The result, the average travel delay per commuter nationwide is more than twice what it was in 1982. For cities of less than 500,000 people, the problem is four times worse than in 1982.

“Our growing traffic problem is too massive for any one entity to handle – state and local agencies can’t do it alone,” says Tim Lomax, a report co-author and Regents Fellow at TTI. “Businesses can give their employees more flexibility in where, when and how they work, individual workers can adjust their commuting patterns, and we can have better thinking when it comes to long-term land use planning. This problem calls for a classic ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach.”

Recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that Americans have driven more than 3 trillion miles in the last 12 months. That’s a new record, surpassing the 2007 peak just before the global financial crisis. Report authors say the U.S. needs more roadway and transit investment to meet the demands of population growth and economic expansion, but added capacity alone can’t solve congestion problems. Solutions must involve a mix of strategies, combining new construction, better operations, and more transportation options as well as flexible work schedules.

“Connectedness, big data and automation will have an immense impact over the next decade on how we travel and how governments efficiently manage the flow of people and commerce across our transportation networks,” says Jim Bak, one of the report’s authors and a director at INRIX. “This report is a great example of how data and analytics are evolving to provide transportation agencies with the insight needed to not only make our existing transportation systems work smarter but more quickly pinpoint where investment can have a lasting impact.”

The report predicts urban roadway congestion will continue to get worse without more assertive approaches on the project, program, and policy fronts. By 2020, with a continued good economy:

  • Annual delay per commuter will grow from 42 hours to 47 hours.
  • Total delay nationwide will grow from 6.9 billion hours to 8.3 billion hours.
  • The total cost of congestion will jump from $160 billion to $192 billion.

Findings in the Urban Mobility Scorecard are drawn from traffic speed data collected by INRIX on 1.3 million miles of urban streets and highways, along with highway performance data from the Federal Highway Administration. The vast amount of information, INRIX and TTI say, makes it possible to examine problems in greater detail than before, and to identify the effect of solutions at specific locations.


INRIX is one of the fastest growing big data technology companies in the world. The company leverages big data analytics to reduce the individual, economic and environmental toll of traffic congestion. Through cutting-edge data intelligence and predictive traffic technologies, INRIX helps leading automakers, fleets, governments and news organizations make it easier for drivers to navigate their world. Our vision is simple – to solve traffic, empower drivers, inform planning and enhance commerce.

Whether through an in-car or smartphone navigation application, a local newscast or our INRIX Traffic app, our up-to-the-minute traffic information and other driver services help millions of drivers save time, fuel and frustration. INRIX delivers traffic and driving-related insight, as well as sophisticated analytical tools and services across six industries covering nearly five million miles (7.9 million km) of road in 41 countries. For more information visit us at INRIX.com or download our INRIX XD Traffic App for iOS and Android.

About the Texas A&M Transportation Institute

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is the largest university-affiliated transportation research agency in the U.S. and a member of the Texas A&M University System. Since 1950, the Institute has been dedicated to saving lives, time, and resources by addressing problems related to all modes of transportation. See more information about the study at mobility.tamu.edu.



Redesigned Terex/Genie RL-4 Light Tower

RL4-1Terex recently introduced its newly-redesigned RL™-4 light tower. Already known for its reliable and cost-effective performance across jobsites varying from building and highway construction to oil field applications and sporting events, the newly-redesigned Terex® RL-4 light tower has significant improvements that make it an even stronger performer.

The redesigned light tower was introduced the company’s Rock Hill, SC facility where the unit is actually produced along with other Terex/Genie product. The facility was acquired in 2002 when Terex acquired Genie. The Rock Hill facility is comprised of two locations, one 110,000 sq ft and the other 115,000 sq ft. the trailer-mounted Z-Booms and portable light towers are produce here other products, — rough terrain telehandlers, scissors lifts, booms and the Genie Runabout with jib – are assembled, received and readied for distribution, and inspected here. Currently Terex has 190 people on staff at the two Rock Hill locations.

“Our RL-4 redesign focused on providing greater efficiency and improved performance for our light tower customers,” said Karen Stash, Senior Director, Global Marketing and Product management, Terex Aerial Work Platforms (AWP). “By pairing the vertical mast and larger 45 gallon fuel tank with the ability to get 17 units on a trailer, customers will see the benefits from day one.” RL4-3

Marie Engstrom, associate product manager, Terex aerial work platforms covered the changes and innovations by giving a hands-on/walk around explanation of the unit’s innovations and changes . The Terex RL-4 light tower is 23.4 ft (7.13 m) in height with a width of 59 in (150 cm), and a stowed length of 85 in (215 cm). It has a dry weight of 1,461 lbs (663 kg) and has four metal halide 1,000 W lamps. High-density polyethylene covers eliminate corrosion and dents, and vertical mast with an internal mast brake offers 359-degree non-continuous tower rotation and a retractable mast cable.

The light tower’s new vertical mast dramatically cuts set up time by using only one winch for quick operation. Being able to stow the mast on top of the unit instead of hanging over the end reduces the potential that the unit will be damaged in transit. The light tower also offers a smaller footprint which lets you haul up to 17 units on a 48 ft trailer instead of the 10 units you were limited to with the previous model, resulting in significant cost savings. Engstrom,. “This allows the Terex RL-4 light tower to be RL4-2loaded on a truck sideways, across the truck, instead of down the truck’s length.”

Previously, the Terex RL-4 light tower had a 30-gallon tank and provided approximately 60-hours of run time. The new RL-4 light tower has a 45-gallon tank and an efficient engine which extends the run time to as long as 90 hours. The RL-4 light tower also has an optional autostart feature which uses a photocell or timer to turn on the unit automatically and run when you need it without having to manually start it. “By increasing the run time by up to 50 percent, the unit can provide light up to seven nights on one tank of fuel. That’s a tremendous efficiency,” said Engstrom.

The new Terex RL-4 has a Kohler® KDW1003 3-cylinder diesel, liquid-cooled engine with a 6.0kW power configuration. “This engine is considered to be one of the most popular workhorses in the industry and now it’s part of the Terex solution,” said Engstrom. Kohler has worked to make this engine quieter with less vibration. Terex and Kohler worked together to provide the RL-4 with a larger oil pan so it can go about 500 hours between oil changes. Combine the Terex service team with over 2,000 Kohler RL4-4parts and service locations worldwide and service to reduce downtime is never far away.

A noteworthy feature, which is standard on all models, is that they are equipped with universal telematics connections. According to Engstrom, all currently available telematics systems will work on the new light-towers.

The Terex RL-4 light tower is now in production and available worldwide. To view a video of the Terex RL-4 light tower, please visit http://www.genielift.com/RL4