Chief Economist: Alex Carrick

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Reed Construction Data Chief Economist Alex Carrick discusses how current developments in the US and Canadian economic environment will bring opportunities and challenges for designers, contractors, and materials and services providers.

Economic Forecasts

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    The Real James Bond is still on the Job

    Scotland is staying put! For now. I’m relieved. My main concern was what his homeland’s independence would mean for the real James Bond, a Scot on his father’s side, although Swiss on his mother’s (according to lore). Not the fake one. We all know where Sean Connery stands on the question. He’s...

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    Atlanta Economic Profile and Outlook

    I’ll come to the topic of Atlanta in a moment. First off, though, let me say that I’m bullish on the U.S. economy in general. Except, of course, that geopolitical issues (e.g., Ukraine and Syria/ISIS) may derail some of the progress that has been made so far. Or who knows how bad the Ebola outbr...

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    The Highs and Lows of Construction Unemployment...

    State-level construction employment numbers are available monthly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but jobless rates are not. Therefore, for a state-by-state comparison of construction unemployment rates, the best one can do is to look at annual-average figures. The Great Recession in the U....

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    A Dozen Mid-September Economic Nuggets

    In fall’s kick-off month, September, geopolitical events have seized the headlines and shunted economic news aside. The Ukraine continues to simmer and peace in Gaza seems always tentative. President Obama has addressed the nation seeking approval for further and deeper military action against ISIS ...

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    Non-residential Construction Starts Trend...

    Clichés are often true and it is the case that a picture can be worth a thousand words. Below are six graphs recording 12-month moving averages of Reed’s non-residential construction starts. When the value of the current month is higher than for the same month a year ago, the line will turn up; w...

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    Top 10 largest construction project starts in...

    The accompanying table records the 10 largest construction project starts in the U.S. in August 2014. There are several reasons for highlighting upcoming large projects. Such jobs have often received a fair amount of media coverage. Therefore, people in the industry are on the lookout for when job-s...

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    Non-residential Construction Starts Bounced...

    Reed Construction Data announced today that the dollar value of construction starts in August, excluding residential activity, rose by one-quarter (+25.0%) versus July. The jump is even more impressive when seasonality is taken into account. Reed’s long-term average July-to-August percentage change ...

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    Canada’s latest investment put-in-place...

    The latest investment put-in-place construction forecasts for Canada – in both current and “constant” (i.e., adjusted for inflation) dollars – are set out in a series of tables below. View the complete Canadian put-in-place construction forecasts in PDF format. To view the Canadian put-in place con...

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    Matching Construction Employment to Oil...

    The two tables accompanying today’s Economy at a Glance rank states and provinces according to their year-over-year percentage changes in construction employment. The effects of the ongoing U.S. energy boom are readily apparent in Table 1. Seven of the Top 10 oil-producing states are in the upper ...

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    Divining the Plot in U.S. and Canadian Foreign...

    Another corner of U.S. foreign trade with interesting “curves” at this time is the auto sector. Continued from Part 1. Not surprisingly, given their proximity, the two countries that stand out as export destinations for U.S. motor vehicle and parts sales are Canada (37% of the total year to date...

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    Divining the Plot in U.S. and Canadian Foreign...

    Over the last several months, the foreign trade positions of both the U.S. and Canada have perked up. The U.S. has been experiencing shrinkage in its deficit, which is unusual when the economy is expanding, and Canada has been experiencing a steady swelling of its surplus. Since the U.S. is in ...

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    U.S. Jobs Up, Canadian Jobs Down and Gigabuzz...

    The U.S. economy recorded a decent, if not spectacular, increase in total number of jobs in August, according to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There was a month-to-month net gain of 142,000. The nation’s unemployment rate declined by the smallest of no...

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    Do Millennials Eat Burgers and Donuts?

    I’m shocked! What’s all the excitement about America’s Burger King acquiring Canada’s Tim Hortons? Do millennials (i.e., those individuals reaching young adulthood at the turn of the century, which was also the start of the new millennium) even eat burgers and donuts? You wouldn’t think so, bas...

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    The Stock Markets Got it Right

    Two of North America’s four major stock market indices set new all-time records in August. The Dow Jones Industrials (DJI) index climbed above 17,000 and, at August’s month-end closing, was 15.4% higher than at the same time last year. The S&P 500 took wing and soared above 2,000 for the first-t...

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    Indulging a Sweet Tooth in the Fed’s Candy Store

    For the past six years, the U.S. has been operating a candy store. The confection it’s been serving has turned some of the nation’s most serious adults into wide-eyed kids. Super-low interest rates have fed a sweet-tooth craving. CEOs and CFOs, aided by their underwriters, have issued a record vo...

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    Canadians are Standing at the Corner, Waiting...

    Many Canadians are standing at the corner of “Good-bye Past” and “What Comes Next?”, waiting for the growth bus. With the country’s overall economic activity level so closely tied to the resource sector, we’re waiting for world commodity demand and prices to revive. We’re waiting for the drop in...

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    U.S. is Entering the Next Couple of Years with...

    The U.S. is entering the forecast period set out in the accompanying table with one distinct advantage. It is lowering its dependence on foreign sources of energy. Not only will this enable a better exports-to-imports ratio, it will help to keep inflation in check. The world price of oil has dem...

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    July Housing Starts Climb in U.S., Engage...

    U.S. total housing starts in July, at 1.093 million units seasonally adjusted and annualized (SAAR), climbed to their second highest level since the Great Recession, according to a joint press release from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Only November 20...

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    U.S. Economic Improvement more Broadly-based...

    One particularly useful font of information for state-level economic activity in the U.S. is the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, also known as the “Philly Fed”. The Philly Fed calculates a “coincident index” for each state derived from four data series readily available from the Bureau of La...

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    What do Burger King® and Statistics Canada have...

    What does the fast-food restaurant chain, Burger King®, have in common with Ottawa’s data collection agency, Statistics Canada? In July, they both served up “whoppers”. On Friday August 8, Statistics Canada issued its usual monthly Labour Force Survey showing that, for July versus June, there wa...

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    RSMeans’ dollar-per-square-foot construction...

    Accompanying this report are tables based on RSMeans’ measures of dollar-per-square-foot construction costs. This month’s results are for four categories of primary and secondary schools – an elementary school, a junior high school, a high school, and a vocational school. Comparisons with oth...

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    Ten Mid-August Economic Nuggets

    The following are some of the most notable recent economic “nuggets” mined from government statistical releases, private agency press releases and broad-based media reports. (1) If one statistical indicator can be said to best encapsulate the strength of the U.S. economy at this time, it is the init...

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    Non-residential Construction Start Trends -...

    Clichés are often true and it is the case that a picture can be worth a thousand words. Below are six graphs recording 12-month moving averages of Reed’s non-residential construction starts. When the value of the current month is higher than for the same month a year ago, the line will turn up; w...

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    Top 10 largest construction project starts in...

    The accompanying table records the 10 largest construction project starts in the U.S. in July 2014. There are several reasons for highlighting upcoming large projects. Such jobs have often received a fair amount of media coverage. Therefore, people in the industry are on the lookout for when job-sit...

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    Non-residential Construction Starts Pulled Back...

    Reed Construction Data announced today that the dollar value of construction starts in July, excluding residential activity, fell 19.5% versus an exceptionally strong June. The drop appears worse when seasonality is factored in. Reed’s long-term average June-to-July percentage change has been +3.5%....

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    Goldilocks Spots More Grey-haired Bears in the...

    In Part 1 of this Economy at a Glance, the influences of the 18-to-30-year-old age category on university and college construction and the 20-to-40-year age grouping on first-time home-buying demand were examined. (To read Part 1 of this article, click here.) Now we come to the most dramatic demog...

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    Goldilocks Spots More Grey-haired Bears in the...

    The social, political and economic scenes in the U.S. and Canada are still widely influenced by the post-World War II baby boom generation. The surge in births between 1946 and 1966 – often described as the “lump in the throat of the python”, since that’s the way it appears on a line graph – has ...

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    How Does Anyone Stay in Business Anymore?

    Do you ever marvel at how much harder it is to stay in business now than in the old days? For owners, there are so many more regulations to follow; forms to fill out; hoops to jump through. There are rules about who you can hire; the salaries you must pay; the benefits you must offer; and the l...

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    U.S. July Jobs Advance Good, but not Sufficient...

    The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation report sets out a 209,000-increase in the total number of U.S. jobs in July versus June. It’s a good number, but not one to inspire cartwheels. Or maybe we’re becoming spoiled. The average month-to-month gain through the first six months ...

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    The Wonderful World of Endowments and Don’t You...

    Business news broadcasts carry snippets of information, often seen scurrying across the bottom of television screens, updating viewers on leading economic indicators. One learns, over time, to mentally assess the latest data relative to benchmark levels ‒ although the latter are quixotic and do ch...

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    1 in 3 Americans Lives in 4 States

    The U.S. appears to be a beehive of large population centers. One need only consider the large number of sports teams that exist in professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey. Nevertheless, as in most countries, there is still is a considerable degree of population concentration.  To i...

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    A U.S. Construction Starts Forecast:...

    Much of the U.S. construction outlook begins with housing starts. Nation-wide, monthly multi-family groundbreakings have pretty much recovered to their pre-recession volume (400,000 units annualized). It’s the single-family market that continues to hold back. Single-family starts are only abou...

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    A Comparison of Construction Material and Labor...

    RSMeans monitors construction costs in 318 U.S. and Canadian cities. In an earlier Economy at a Glance, I set out total index comparisons for the 20 largest population centers in the U.S. and the 10 biggest in Canada. This time, for those same 30 cities, the two major sub-components ‒ materials and...

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    iState, Cixi and other Mid-Summer Odds and Ends

    It’s mid-summer 2014 and this seems a good time to diverge from the usual “thick” economic subject matter this column usually espouses. It’s not as if there aren’t quirky stories in abundance to catch our fancy on these lazy, hazy days. But also keep in mind as you read what follows that there’s...

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    Build versus Buy when Cap Rates are Falling

    RSMeans calculates construction cost indexes for 318 cities in the U.S. and Canada. For each city, there is a “total” index which is comprised of two sub-components, “materials” and “installation”. The latter is primarily labor, although it also includes equipment rental. In turn, there are ove...

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    The States and Provinces with the Best and...

    The table that accompanies this Economy at a Glance is straightforward. For the states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada, it sets out unemployment rates according to two criteria: 1) those where the figure is currently 5.0% or lower; and 2) those where it is 7.0% or higher. In other words, it ca...

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    A Super-duper RSMeans Method to Compare U.S....

    The table accompanying this Economy at a Glance is based on data appearing in RSMeans’ quarterly Construction Cost Indexes publication. RSMeans tracks construction costs for 318 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The findings are expressed in index form. (By way of disclosure, RSMeans is owned by ...

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    Ten Mid-July Economic Nuggets

    The outlook for public sector construction spending is receiving a boost from naturally occurring tax increases. As consumer spending and retail sales improve, sales tax revenues increase; as jobs and earnings rise, income tax receipts climb; and as home prices experience further lift, property tax ...

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    Non-residential Construction Start Trends -...

    Clichés are often true and it is the case that a picture can be worth a thousand words. Below are six graphs recording 12-month moving averages of Reed’s non-residential construction starts. When the value of the current month is higher than for the same month a year ago, the line will turn up; w...

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    Non-residential Construction Starts Surged in June

    Reed Construction Data (RCD) announced today that the dollar value of construction starts in June, excluding residential activity, surged 34% versus May. The figures are in “current” dollars, meaning they are not adjusted for inflation. The individual month of June, at $32.0 billion, was one of the...