Tag Archive for 'job growth'

ABC Reports : Nonresidential Construction Down in March, Says ABC Private Sector Falters, Public Sector Unchanged

Nonresidential construction spending declined 0.3 percent in March, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today. Nonresidential spending, which totaled $740.9 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis, has expanded 2.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. February’s spending estimate was revised roughly $10 billion higher, from $732.8 billion to $742.8 billion, rendering the March decline less meaningful.

Private sector nonresidential construction spending fell 0.4 percent on a monthly basis but rose 2.2 percent from a year ago. Public sector nonresidential spending remained unchanged in March, but it is up 2.9 percent year-over-year.

“The nonresidential construction spending data emerging from the Census Bureau continue to be a bit at odds with other data characterizing growth in the level of activity,” said ABC’s Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “For instance, first quarter GDP data indicated brisk expansion in nonresidential investment. Data from ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator, the Architecture Billings Index and other leading industry indicators have also been suggesting ongoing growth. Despite that, private nonresidential construction spending is up by roughly the inflation rate, indicating that the volume of services delivered over the past year has not expanded in real terms.

“That said, most economists who follow the industry presumed that March data would be somewhat soft,” said Basu. “The Northeast and Midwest were impacted by unusually persistent storm activity in March. The same phenomenon impacted March’s employment estimates, which indicated that construction actually lost 15,000 jobs that month. Other weather-sensitive industries, including retail trade, also experienced slow to negative job growth in March.

“The upshot is that CEOs and other construction leaders should remain upbeat regarding near-term prospects despite today’s construction spending report,” said Basu. “Leading indicators, including a host of confidence measures, collectively suggest that business investment will be on the rise during the months ahead. Improved state and local government finances should also support additional nonresidential construction activity.

“At the same time, construction industry leaders must remain wary of a sea of emerging risks to the ongoing economic and construction industry expansions,” said Basu. “Interest rates are on the rise. Materials prices, including those associated with softwood lumber, steel, and aluminum, are expanding briskly. Wage pressures continue to build. There are also issues related to America’s expanding national debt, increasingly volatile financial markets, the geopolitical uncertainty that has helped to propel fuel prices higher, and lack of transparency regarding America’s infrastructure investment intentions. The challenge for construction CEOs and others, therefore, is to prepare for growing activity in the near-term, but for something potentially rather different two to three years from now.”

ABC Reports: Construction Adds 28,000 Jobs In January, But Unemployment Increases To 16.1 Percent

CEU2“Winter months are notoriously seasonal and subject to construction employment fluctuation based on weather patterns as opposed to economic forces.” —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Employment - February 2013Summary

Despite the addition of 28,000 jobs in January, the nation’s construction industry unemployment rate shot up to 16.1 percent, according to the Feb. 1 employment report by the U.S. Department of Labor. The January rate marks an increase from 13.5 percent in December 2012, but a decrease from 17.7 percent the same time last year. Year over year, construction employment has risen by 102,000 jobs, or 1.8 percent.

The nonresidential building sector lost 2,700 jobs in January, but has added 6,900 jobs, or 1 percent, during the past year. The residential building sector added 700 jobs for the month and has added 2,500 jobs, or 0.4 percent, during the past 12 months.

Nonresidential specialty trade contractors gained 12,400 jobs since December and 15,500, or 0.7 percent, compared to the same time one year ago. Residential specialty trade contractors added 13,800 for the month and 50,700 jobs, or 3.5 percent, for the past 12 months. Employment for heavy and civil engineering construction increased by 4,000 jobs for the month and has added 26,500 jobs, or 3.5 percent, since January 2012.

Overall, the nation added 157,000 jobs as the private sector expanded by 166,000 jobs and the public sector shrunk by 9,000 jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey, the national unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent in January, up from 7.8 percent in December.

Analysis

“For a second consecutive month, the nation’s construction industry added jobs,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “However, there are at least two reasons to question whether this improved performance is indicative of a broadening construction industry recovery or an example of the statistics being impacted by temporary phenomena.

“First, winter months are notoriously seasonal and subject to construction employment fluctuation based on weather patterns as opposed to economic forces,” Basu stated. “Second, some of the acceleration in construction hiring is likely due to ongoing Hurricane Sandy rebuilding, which presumably will only create a temporary increase in construction activity.

“In addition, nonresidential building construction actually lost 2,700 jobs in January, reflecting a modest pace of economic expansion,” said Basu. “In fact, the most recent gross domestic product data indicates the nation’s expansion has become nonexistent, rather than modest.

“While fourth quarter output was impacted by a sharp decline in military outlays and negative adjustments to inventory, the data shows that economic activity is unlikely to accelerate meaningfully during the months ahead,” said Basu. “The economy entered 2013 with precious little momentum, and now has to adjust to a set of higher tax rates.

“Financial markets generally have shrugged off these factors, yet surveys of business and consumer confidence indicate most Americans remain intensely nervous,” Basu said. “Additionally, battles over the debt limit and spending cuts loom in the next few months, which may further strain any economic recovery.”

To view the previous Employment report, click here.

ABC Criticizes Obama Administration Proposed Rules to Advance Big Labor’s Agenda

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today criticized two proposed rulemakings issued by the Obama administration.

The first proposed rulemaking, expected to be issued June 22 by the National Labor Relations Board, would take steps that would likely cut the period for union representation elections from an average of 45-60 days to 10-21 days.  This would severely limit an employer’s ability to effectively communicate the impact of unionization to its workers.

The second proposed rulemaking, issued June 21 by the Department of Labor, would reinterpret what constitutes “persuader” activity under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.  This would subject management attorneys, consultants and perhaps even trade associations to onerous and unnecessary disclosure requirements to the federal government.

“These proposed rules are clearly an attempt by unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board to advance Big Labor’s agenda at the expense of American job creators,” said ABC Vice President of Federal Affairs Geoff Burr. “With the construction industry still facing more than 16 percent unemployment, now is the worst possible time for the Obama administration to create artificial hurdles to job creation.

“It appears as though the Obama administration’s job creation plan is to force unionization on employers, tell them where they can operate and then hope for the best. While this will create a boon in employment for Big Labor bosses, it does nothing for the millions of Americans trying to find jobs to support their families,” Burr continued. “These proposed rules show that the Obama administration is not interested in creating an economic environment that is conducive to job growth.”

The general public will have 60 days to comment on these proposed rulemakings.