Tag Archive for 'non-residential'

Wells Fargo Reports: Housing Starts Disappoint in July

Housing starts fell 4.8 percent to a 1.16 million-unit pace in July. Weakness was largely concentrated in multifamily, which fell 15.3 percent, while single-family slipped 0.5 percent. Permits fell 4.1 percent.

Single-Family Starts Better Than Monthly Print Implies

At first glance, today’s housing starts report appears to extend a weak string of monthly reports only interrupted by the downwardly-revised gain in June. Moreover, given the ebullient builder sentiment reading yesterday, weakness in housing starts and permits during the month is a bit confounding. Indeed, housing starts have fallen in five of the last six months. However, much of the weakness has been in the multifamily component, which should not be surprising given slowing fundamentals.

To illustrate, starts are down 5.6 percent relative to a year earlier, but all of the weakness is concentrated in multifamily (5+units) which fell 35.2 percent in July, while single-family was up almost 11 percent. We find a similar trend with permits, which are forward-looking. On a year-ago basis, overall permits are up 4.1 percent, but the gain is in single-family and multifamily units with 2-4 units, while five or more units is down.

At the same time, builder sentiment jumped 4 points in August to 68, which is in line with the six-month moving average, with all components registering gains during the month. In our National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index write up released yesterday, we noted that single-family starts have not advanced as much as the still- elevated level of builder sentiment likely reflecting the shortage of lots and overall construction costs including labor. That said, the producer price index shows that inputs to residential construction rose 2.5 percent year- over-year in July, outpacing inflation. The shortage of labor is also putting upward pressure on construction costs and can be seen in average hourly earnings in the residential component.

Looking Ahead: The Residential Story Is Unchanged

For starters, residential lending standards are still supportive of the sector.
On net, senior loan officers reported that standards for all residential real estate lending categories eased or were unchanged in Q2, while demand for most segments remained strong. Consistent with lending standards, loan growth for single-family residential (1-4 units) grew more than 11 percent in Q1 relative to a year earlier, which is more or less consistent with the pace of construction and land development loan growth. Lending for multifamily loans remained largely unchanged during the quarter.

Multifamily housing units (5+ units) completed, which reflect deliveries, were up almost 7 percent year-over-year in July. Much of the supply is still in luxury units. We continue to expect multifamily completions to peak this year, which should level off the recent moderation in asking rent growth.

The residential component of architecture billings, which is mostly apartments, jumped to its highest level in almost a year in June, intimating there is some upside.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce and Wells Fargo Securities

According to ABC, Jobs Report Offers Reasons for Hope and Concern for Construction Industry

National construction employment added 11,000 net new jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in May according to analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

The nonresidential construction sector added 4,400 net new jobs in May after losing 1,000 net jobs in April (revised down from a net increase of 3,200 jobs), while the residential sector added 7,100 net jobs for the month. Overall construction employment expanded 2.9 percent on yearly basis, well above the year-over-year growth rate of 1.6 percent for all nonfarm industries.

“Today’s jobs numbers supply a mixture of good and bad news,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Overall nonresidential construction industry employment was up, but much of that was due to the heavy and civil engineering component, which can be associated with volatile employment levels from month-to-month. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors collectively shed employment, which is consistent with the weak construction spending numbers released yesterday. Those statistics indicated ongoing softening in construction spending in both private and public segments.

“More worrisome perhaps are statistics related to labor force participation and the construction industry unemployment rate,” said Basu. “The labor force participation fell to 62.7 percent in May, a multi-month low. There is also evidence that the construction labor market continues to tighten, which implies construction firms will continue to struggle to find workers, particularly at higher skill levels. This means that construction spending growth is decelerating even as labor becomes more expensive. None of this is good from the perspective of profit-margins or aggregate industry profitability.

“The hope is that the observed weakness in spending is brief and largely a result of lingering uncertainty that would be associated with any major political transition,” said Basu. “Financial markets continue to perform brilliantly, implying that investors continue to view economic conditions favorably. With the construction unemployment rate remaining so low one further hopes that more job seekers will be induced to seek employment in the construction trades. Unfortunately, to date that has not happened at sufficient levels. That said, economists remain confident that the next two quarters will be associated with more robust growth, which could help to reinvigorate construction spending momentum.”

The construction industry unemployment rate, which fell 2.1 percentage points last month, declined further in May and now stands at 5.3 percent. The construction industry unemployment rate is only available on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Due to seasonal factors, the industry unemployment rate almost always plummets from March to April and continues to decline in May. The national unemployment rate inched down from 4.4 percent in April to 4.3 percent in May. The last time the unemployment rate was this low was in May 2001.

ABC Says: Nonresidential Construction Spending Slips to Start 2017

Nonresidential construction spending contracted during January, according to analysis of U.S. Census Bureau released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Nonresidential spending fell 1.9 percent from December to $698.4 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis. This represents the first month total nonresidential construction spending dipped below $700 billion since July 2016.
Despite the monthly setback, year-over-year progress remains intact, with nonresidential spending increasing 1.5 percent since January 2016. However, in real terms, that represents virtually nonexistent growth. Private nonresidential spending remained unchanged for the month, while public sector spending plunged 4.7 percent. The greatest loss in spending volume occurred in the public safety, water supply and conservation and development segments.
“The significant loss in public construction spending momentum is hardly novel,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “For several years, public funding for construction activity has been flat and erratic. Public budgets remain constrained by underfunded pensions, surging Medicaid expenditures, and other non-infrastructure-related needs.
“The new president’s speech on Tuesday night discussed the need for additional infrastructure investment,” said Basu. “If the president is able to implement his public-private partnership plan, public construction spending is set to soar. However, there are many obstacles to his plan coming to fruition.

“Private construction spending was also soft in January, but the outlook remains upbeat,” said Basu. “Corporate confidence is high, architects became much busier during the period immediately following the presidential election, and capital from banks and other sources should be broadly available to developers during the year ahead.”

January 2017 Nonresidential Construction Spending

ABC Reports: Construction Lost Jobs in December

National construction employment declined by 3,000 net jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, according to analysis of  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

The industry added 102,000 net new jobs on a year-over-year basis, the smallest increase in more than four years. Of the five subsectors, only residential specialty trade contractors added jobs in December (11,700 net new jobs). Nonresidential construction lost 13,400 net jobs for the month, largely due to losses in heavy and civil engineering, which lost 8,900 jobs. These data are adjusted for seasonal variations, which means that one cannot simply blame the poor job performance on the transition from November to December.

“A terrific nonresidential construction spending report arrived earlier this week, leading to expectations of a more upbeat assessment of the construction employment situation than provided by today’s report,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The spending report indicated that nonresidential spending expanded to $712.4 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate in November, representing the highest level of spending in eight years.

“One possible way to reconcile seemingly contradictory data is to point out that construction firms are reporting greater difficulty filling available positions,” said Basu. “More than 80 percent of ABC members report difficulty finding appropriately skilled labor. Accordingly, many construction firms are required to do more with fewer people, which should eventually show up in construction productivity data that reflect the amount of output generated by the average worker on a per-hour-worked basis.

“The significant number of jobs lost in the heavy and civil engineering segment indicates that U.S. spending on infrastructure remains low,” said Basu. “For much of the year, the level of spending in publicly-financed segments was stuck in reverse, and today’s data indicate that increased investment in the shared built environment is much needed.

“There were jobs lost in privately-financed segments as well,” said Basu. “Employment in nonresidential building construction dipped by 1,300 in December. While that’s not a massive loss, it is somewhat surprising given data regarding construction spending, including in the office and lodging segments.”

The construction unemployment rate expanded by 1.7 percentage points in December and stands at 7.4 percent.  This figure, however, is not seasonally adjusted, and construction industry unemployment has increased from November to December during each of the prior sixteen years by an average of 2 percentage points. The national unemployment rate ticked higher to 4.7 percent in December. That statistic is seasonally adjusted.

December 2016 Construction Employment

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Growth on Pace with Strong July Jobs Report

1291931467352794367The U.S. construction industry has rebounded strongly, adding 14,000 net new jobs in July according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). This gain comes after the construction sector lost a combined 27,000 jobs from April to June. The construction industry’s unemployment rate inched lower in July, shedding a tenth of a percentage point to reach 4.5 percent, the industry’s lowest unemployment rate since October 2006.

The nonresidential sector accounted for a majority of July’s gains, adding 11,500 net new jobs. The residential sector remained stagnant for the month, adding only 700 net new positions. Heavy and civil engineering employment, which lost 8,800 jobs from January to June, experienced a modest rebound in July by adding 1,900 net new jobs.

“After several months of disappointing construction spending and employment data, today’s release was most welcome,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “If there is a slowdown in construction, it appears to be in residential as opposed to nonresidential activity. Today’s release provides evidence that the nonresidential construction recovery has not yet stalled.

“While hiring in July was strong both in the broader economy and in key nonresidential construction segments, ongoing job creation exacerbates the issue of rampant skilled labor shortage,” said Basu. “The construction employment rate is now down to 4.5 percent. The implication is that wage pressures continue to build. Therefore, contractors will likely need to more aggressively pass along cost increases to purchasers of construction services in order to simply maintain their current level of profitability.

“For now, America’s economic recovery remains in place,” said Basu. “Not only does the economy continue to add jobs, but labor force participation has begun to rise again. This should position America’s ongoing consumer-led expansion to continue, creating demand for commercial construction and other forms of construction in the process.”

The economy-wide unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent. The nation’s labor force expanded by 407,000 persons for the month. This represents the largest growth for the month of July since the labor force expanded by 587,000 persons in July 1996.

3052611470408942568

3052611470408954711

Additional ABC Economic Analysis:

Construction Spending

Construction Employment