Tag Archive for 'infrastructure'

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Wells Fargo Reports: Homebuilder Confidence Jumps in August

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose 4 points in August to 68. Rising demand for new homes pushed the future sales index up 5 points to 78, back to its post-recession high.

Demand for New Homes Strengthens in August

  •   Homebuilder confidence rose solidly in August, as more homebuilders reported improving sales and strengthening demand in general.
  •   The present sales index rose 4 points to 74, which is precisely even with its average for the past six months. The future sales index climbed 5 points to 78 and is back at its post-recession high. Builders are selling homes as fast as they can build them.

Low Inventories Continue to Limit Sales

  •  Single-family starts have not risen nearly as much as builder confidence has, reflecting the greater difficulty builders are having obtaining lots and labor relative to past cycles.
  •  The lack of new construction is apparent in prospective buyer traffic, which remains below past highs. Builders have far fewer model homes today than they did in the past and little finished inventory, making for difficult comparison with prior cycles.

AEM Poll: Rural-Urban Agreement on Need for Infrastructure Investment

An overwhelming majority of Americans in urban, suburban and rural communities believe that investing in infrastructure will improve the U.S. economy according to a new poll released Tuesday by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers(AEM).

While infrastructure needs differ in different parts of the country, the new survey shows that adults strongly support modernizing U.S. infrastructure and believe that investments will create jobs and improve their quality of life.

“The findings underscore the fact that infrastructure connects rural and urban America – both literally and physically,” said AEM president Dennis Slater. “America’s infrastructure was once the envy of the world, but after years of underinvestment, our infrastructure and connectivity between rural and urban America have deteriorated considerably. This is one of the areas rural and urban Americans agree on today – that we must modernize and rebuild our infrastructure to reclaim the infrastructure advantage we once had.”

The national poll identified a number of key findings, including

  • An overwhelming majority (89 percent) of all adults believe that investments in infrastructure will strengthen the U.S. economy, including eighty-six (86) percent of urban and eighty-nine (89) percent of rural Americans.
  • More than eight out of every ten adults (82 percent) agree that investments in infrastructure will increase the number of jobs in their communities, with eighty-four (84) percent of suburban, eighty-two (82) percent of urban and eighty (80) percent of rural Americans sharing this belief.
  • Americans across the country agree that investments in infrastructure will improve their quality of life (81 percent). This sentiment is equally strong in suburbs or towns (82 percent), cities (80 percent) and rural America (79 percent).

Read the full polling memo here.

“It is time for Congress and the administration to listen to the American people and rebuild our infrastructure, spur economic growth and accelerate job creation as a result,” said Kip Eideberg, AEM vice president of public affairs and advocacy.

Respondents also identified transportation, construction and manufacturing as the top industries poised to benefit most from increased infrastructure investment. Thirty (30) percent of all Americans pointed to manufacturing as one of the three primary beneficiaries of increased spending on infrastructure, a figure that rises among Midwesterners (34 percent) and rural Americans (34 percent).

The poll also found that a third of Americans (33 percent) believe that investing in broadband and wireless connectivity would most likely benefit their ability to access educational and workforce training resources.

The findings support recommendations made in a recently released report by AEM called The U.S. Infrastructure Advantage (TM). The report emphasizes the importance of the United States reclaiming its infrastructure advantage in order to maintain its global economic dominance. The report also highlights several areas in which infrastructure, such as surface transportation and broadband, provide critical links between urban and rural communities and economies.

About the Survey

AEM conducted the poll in partnership with YouGov through its online omnibus survey. The survey was fielded to 3,481 U.S. adults, including 667 adults who self-identify as living in a rural area. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all American adults (18+). Fieldwork was conducted between July 26 and July 28, 2017.

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  If your friends tell you you’re full of wind, well, take it as a compliment and then tell them (assuming you have more than one friend *:D big grin) everything you’ve learned from reading DOE’s extensive and very user-friendly “2016 Wind Market Reports.”  Wow – great resource.  The reports update the continued growth in wind energy nationwide. The wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts of capacity last year, representing 27 percent of all energy capacity additions in 2016. The reports cover the following market sectors:  land-based utility scaleoffshore, and  distributed wind.  Definitely worth a close read!
*  Well, it’s not quite at the out-sized status achieved by the Coast Guard’s 2016 proposal to establish safety/anchorage zones on the Hudson River.  You may recall that proposal generated over 10,000 comments from interested citizens, or at least citizens who knew how to flood the docket with form letters.  But the CG’s proposal for safety zones in the Puget Sound has turned into a similar hot button issue, indicating again how usually very low-key, ho-hum proposals can get morphed into flashpoints that, for some, indicate, well, just about the end of the world.  In its proposal the CG references its “preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment.”  Hah, nice try team!

*  Michigan’s DEQ has a series of videos documenting how that agency has helped redevelop some very challenging brownfield sites.  A new video was distributed last week about a project in Lansing, MI, on the Grand River, and it’s worth watching.  One comment, though: There were pictures of the old site, and old facilities, the polluting entities that left an abandoned disaster.  But something caught my eye, a bit unsettling.  The jobs at the new family-friendly site with fishing and boating excursions and sunny bike paths were mostly restaurant and retail, selling coffee and pizza and, likely, some very tasty local beers.  But, uh, hate to ask, where are the old-school jobs where people made stuff, created complex and complicated things using brains, raw materials and skill?  Yeah, decades ago they did it all wrong, environmentally.  But now we know better.  If those jobs and facilities wanted to return to the Lansing riverfront, could they?  Would they be welcome?  Couldn’t tell from the video…

Tom Ewing
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Practice Smart Digging: AEM Supports “Call 811” Day

Practice Smart Digging: AEM Supports “Call 811” Day
8/11 on Calendar a Convenient Reminder from Common Ground Alliance

Do you know where your local utility lines are?

The Common Ground Alliance has designated 8/11 on the calendar as a convenient reminder to “call before you dig,” and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and its members are proud to support CGA and its programs.

“AEM and CGA have worked diligently together to promote safety in all utility excavation. Why? Because it saves lives,” said William “Bernie” Bernhard, AEM technical and safety services manager.

“Contractors, farmers, landscapers, homeowners and anyone involved in a digging project, no matter how large or small, needs to call 811. It’s a free call and the risk is just not worth it!”

Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, says CGA. From high-speed Internet, cable TV and phone to electric, gas, water and sewer lines, many are buried underground and hitting one can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient neighborhood outages.

Read Bernhard’s “8/11 Day” commemoration blog here, outlining CGA resources as well as AEM and machinery manufacturer “Call 811” outreach.

Visit the Common Ground Alliance website for more information on CGA and its services.

“Smart digging means calling 811 and using AEM’s safety manuals before each job,” says Bernhard.

AEM safety manuals specifically for underground excavation cover auger boring, backhoe loaders, compact excavators, digger derricks, directional drilling, hydraulic excavators, trenchers and vacuum excavators.

Visit safetymaterials.org as you prepare for your next excavation project.

AEM’s world-class trade shows include ICUEE, International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (aka The Demo Expo). Visit www.icuee.com for details on the 2017 show, set for October 3-5 in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

ABC Reports: Construction Input Prices Plod Higher, Energy Prices Down

Construction input prices increased0.3 percent in July and are up 3 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis of data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonresidential construction input prices were in line with overall industry dynamics, increasing 0.3 percent for the month and 2.7 percent for the year.

Eight of 11 key construction input prices rose in July. Among the inputs experiencing declines in prices were crude petroleum (down 8 percent) and natural gas (down 7 percent). Natural gas prices have fallen during four of the past six months.

“Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of U.S. economic performance in recent years has been the general lack of inflation,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Despite recently completing eight years of economic recovery and hurtling towards full employment, the Federal Reserve’s most intensely scrutinized measure of inflation remains well below 2 percent. Even worker compensation has not risen rapidly, despite indications by construction firms, trucking enterprises, hotel operators and manufacturers of large-scale shortfalls in human capital. America is presently home to 6.2 million job openings and 7 million unemployed, which means that there is nearly one job for every person looking for one.

“The lack of inflation helps explain many things, including low interest rates, rising levels of consumer indebtedness, rising home prices, high multiples on corporate earnings and elevated commercial real estate values. In other words,” said Basu, “the reasonably strong performance of the U.S. economy and the phenomenal performance of financial markets is largely traceable to surprisingly low inflation.

“It is in this context that today’s report is so important,” said Basu. “Inflationary pressures are certainly apparent in today’s report. True, one should not make too much out of a single month of data. Moreover, one cannot make the claim that today’s release is consistent with anything approaching rampant inflation.

“However, in certain input categories, the rise in prices has been noteworthy,” said Basu. “For instance, steel mill products, iron and steel and softwood lumber have each experienced price increases of around 10 percent over the past 12 months. With energy prices stabilizing recently, the construction producer price index is likely to exhibit faster growth during the months ahead. Many contractors continue to report elevated backlog, and other leading nonresidential construction indicators remain positive. This implies growing demand for materials in America. With the global economy firming and with the dollar having weakened a bit recently, the implication is that materials prices will continue to rise during the months ahead along with compensation costs. These dynamics are likely to place additional pressure on construction industry profit margins.

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.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents more than 21,000 members.

Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit us at abc.org.