Latest Construction Economic Data

Catalyst Construction Economics Hub

Know where the industry is.
Know where it is headed.

In addition to providing bonds, we view it as our job to keep our clients informed with information which impacts their business. One of the ways we keep you informed is by compiling key economic data and leading economic indicators from multiple construction sources on this page.  Collectively this information reflects the state of the current construction industry and provides an indication of where the market is headed. 
This information is sent out monthly via our Catalyst Construction Brief.  At the bottom of the page you will find links to our most recent issues of this publication along with a link to subscribe. 

Data Which Reflects Where The Industry Is Today

U.S. Census Bureau - Construction Spending
Year-To-Date Annual Total - Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate
March 2017 vs. March 2016

All Construction Spending: +3.6%
Public Construction: -6.5% 
Private Construction: +7.0%

Quick Analysis: Construction spending for the entire industry was up 3.6% in March 2017 versus the prior year. Consistent with the trend we have grown accustomed to in the recent past, private spending growth continues to show strength while public sector spending is down materially versus the prior year.

Click the category below to see a detailed breakdown of the most recent construction spending data.

ENR Construction Cost Index
May 2017 vs. May 2016

Total Construction Costs: +3.7%
Building Cost Index: +3.2%  
Material Cost Index: +0.7%
Skilled Labor Costs: +1.8%
Common Labor Costs: +3.3% 

Quick Analysis: Inflation in construction costs continues to be driven by increases in labor costs. The Material Cost Index is likely to increase in the coming months given the U.S. tariffs on Canadian soft lumber (lumber is up 11.7% versus last year).

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
April 2017

Construction Unemployment: 6.3%

Quick Analysis: Industry unemployment for the month of April registered at 6.3%. This is naturally down from March's unemployment of 8.4% due to the seasonality of construction unemployment in colder climates. However, industry unemployment of 6.3% for April 2017 is slightly higher than the 6.0% unemployment rate posted a year ago (April 2016).

ABC Backlog Indicator
4th Quarter 2016

National Avg. Backlog:  8.3 months 

Backlog By Region:

South: 9.6 months  /  Northeast: 8.4 months  /  Middle States: 7.6 months  /  West: 6.2 months

Backlog By Company Revenue:
<$30 Million: 7.5 months   /   $30-$50 Million : 8.3 months   /   $50-$100 Million: 9.2 months    /    >$100 Million: 10.8 months

Backlog By Industry:
Commercial & Institutional: 8.0 months   /   Heavy Industrial: 5.5 months   /   Infrastructure: 10.6 months

Quick Analysis: The ABC reported a slight contraction of average backlog carried by contractors across the country in the 4th quarter. The heavy industrial sector saw the largest drop with backlogs decreasing 16.8% on average on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

The South Region's average reported backlog of 9.6 months is far beyond the backlogs reported in the other three regions (Northeast: 8.4; Middle States: 7.6, West: 6.2). Large companies (>$100 Million of revenue) continue to carry the highest average backlog with an average of 10.8 months of work on hand.

Data Which Reflects Where The Industry Is Headed

AIA Architectural Billings Index
April 2017

Architectural Billings Index (ABI): 50.9
Commercial/Industrial ABI: 52.4
Institutional ABI: 54.0
Residential ABI: 49.9
New Project Inquiry Index (NPII): 60.2

Quick Analysis: Index value > 50 represents that architects have reported more activity for that particular metric than the prior month. These metrics are leading indicators as the ABI reflects projects in design that will enter the construction phase in 9 to 12 months and the NPII reflects new project demand from owners to potentially enter the design phase. 

While the actual index value is down versus the prior month, the April ABI of 50.9 still represents an increase in total actual billings versus the prior month. Further, the fact that the NPII continues to register at well above the flat line of 50 each month indicates that construction activity should remain strong through 2018 (so long as project funding/financing remains available). 

Most Recent Issues of the Catalyst Construction Brief

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Interested in hearing firsthand what we are seeing or hearing from an economic perspective around the construction market?  Feel free to give us a call as we would look forward to having a general conversation with you.  Given we are talking with clients and contacts of all sizes across a broad geographic area, we have a unique perspective which we are happy to share.
(704) 208-4884
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