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TradeWinds

Industry News List

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EarthCam Premieres 59 Month Construction Time-Lapse Movie to Commemorate Opening of the Bay Bridge

Witness more than 42,000 hours of construction in just 4 minutes with the release of EarthCam’s official time-lapse movie for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. After many years of construction to retrofit and transform the Bay Bridge, project teams and contractors will be celebrating all of their hard work at the opening of the updated bridge on September 3, 2013.

Proving to be leaders in utilizing camera technology to document bridge construction, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) relied on 12 EarthCam construction cameras to document progress for the $6.4 billion bridge. In 2008, EarthCam installed a combination of live streaming video cameras and high definition time-lapse systems, all carefully documenting progress from several unique perspectives. Strategically located on the project site, each camera captured a specific view of the progress, archiving footage from 42 preset angles. During the life of the project, views of progress, as well as important information about construction-related lane closures, were made available on the Webby award-winning public web page.

“It’s been a great honor to be onsite since 2008, documenting one of the largest public works projects in history while providing continuous updates to the community,” said Brian Cury, CEO and Founder of EarthCam. “Our construction cameras captured numerous milestones over the years, archiving nearly 2 million images to make this the most documented bridge project to date.”

EarthCam's construction cameras captured nearly 5 years of progress, a powerful testament to the hard working and dedicated bridge teams. The EarthCam Time-Lapse Production Team pored over the staggering number of images captured over the past 59 months. Time-lapse specialists spent months hand-editing the archived imagery into a professional time-lapse movie, showcasing the entire construction process for the new state-of-the-art bridge, ready to welcome the 270,000 vehicles that span its length each day.

To see the construction progress for one of the largest ARRA (American Recovery and Restoration Act) funded projects in our nation’s history, watch EarthCam’s time-lapse movie for the Bay Bridge at www.youtube.com/earthcam.

About Earthcam
EarthCam is the global leader in delivering webcam content, technology and services. Founded in 1996, EarthCam provides live streaming video, time-lapse construction cameras and complete managed services for corporate and government clients in more than 1,500 international cities. With numerous applications in the construction, transportation, entertainment industries, EarthCam's revolutionary gigapixel camera systems deliver superior HD clarity, monitoring, documenting and archiving of the world's most important projects and events.

Projects documented by EarthCam include: National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Barclays Center, Statue of Liberty Restoration, Panama Canal Expansion, Smithsonian Institution Restoration, Brickell CityCentre, Hong Kong Disneyland, Washington Monument Restoration, Los Angeles International Airport, Denver Union Station, George W. Bush Presidential Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, Levi’s Stadium and National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Learn more about EarthCam at www.earthcam.net.

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Construction Adds 20,000 Jobs In September As Unemployment Hits Six-Year Low; Spending Climbs In August For Fifth Straight Month But Public Outlays Lag
Industry Was Doing “Relatively Well” In Months Prior to Federal Government Shutdown but Quick Passage of Water Resources Legislation Needed to Help Industry Recover from a Likely October Slowdown, Officials Say

Construction employment rose by 20,000 in September and the industry’s unemployment rate fell to a six-year low of 8.5 percent, while construction spending increased for the fifth consecutive month in August, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that the data does not address any potential impacts from the recent federal government shutdown.

“Both of these reports show the industry was doing relatively well before the federal government shutdown forced many firms to hit the pause button,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “But the shutdown likely disrupted a wide variety of projects and may have caused private investors and developers to delay decisions about new projects or plant expansions. As a result, future spending and hiring gains may be weaker.”

Construction employment totaled 5,826,000 in September, a gain of 20,000 from the August tally, which was revised up by 8,000 from the Labor Department’s initial estimate. The September figure is 3.4 percent higher than in September 2012, while aggregate weekly hours of all construction employees rose 4.2 percent over the year, indicating that companies are adding to existing workers’ hours in addition to hiring new employees. Employment climbed for the month and year in both residential and nonresidential construction.

The industry’s unemployment rate dropped sharply over the past year, from 11.9 percent in September 2012 to 8.5 percent in September 2013—the lowest September rate since 2007. The steep decline in the number of unemployed former construction workers suggests companies may have trouble finding experienced workers if the volume of projects continues to expand, as it did in August.

“Today’s spending report showed increases in August in residential, private nonresidential and public construction,” Simonson noted. “But on a year-over-year basis, public construction has continued its long decline, private nonresidential spending is mixed, and only home- and apartment construction is booming.”

Total construction spending, as reported by the Census Bureau, climbed 0.6 percent in August from an upwardly revised July figure and 7.1 percent from August 2012. Private residential spending led the way with a 1.2 percent increase for the month and a 19 percent jump year-over-year. Private nonresidential spending eked out a 0.1 percent gain in August and a 4.3 percent rise over 12 months. Public spending rose 0.4 percent for the month but shrank 1.8 percent from a year earlier.

Association officials warned that the industry’s recovery was likely impacted by the federal government shutdown. They urged federal officials to support vital water resources legislation currently being debated in Congress. “Making long-delayed repairs to our aging ports and waterways will give the construction industry a needed boost and support broader economic growth,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

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Architecture Billings Index Surges Higher
Design firms citing increased productivity

Showing a steady increase in the demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) continues to accelerate, as it reached its second highest level of the year. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the September ABI score was 54.3, up from a mark of 53.8 in August. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.6, down from the reading of 63.0 the previous month.

You can see this press release online here: http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB100453

“The prolonged economic downturn that has affected the design and construction industry has actually resulted in the increased productivity levels as reported by architecture firms,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “ In addition to new approaches to business challenges, a very competitive marketplace, the utilization of new technologies, and a renewed focus on efficiency have architecture firms realizing all-time highs in workplace productivity, and these new efficiencies can greatly benefit clients from a project timeline and budget standpoint.”

Key September ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (60.6), South (54.1), Midwest (51.0), Northeast (50.7)

  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (57.9), multi-family residential (55.6), mixed practice (55.4), institutional (50.4)

  • Project inquiries index: 58.6

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Call-For-Submissions: AIA Emerging Professionals Summit Essays
Selected Essays Will Address Changes That Need to be Enacted to Advance the Profession

What: The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is seeking essays that will address what role architects will play in society in 2033. Are architects being prepared adequately? If not, what changes need to happen now to better position the profession for the future? In January 2014, the AIA will bring together thought leaders from across the profession to address how practice culture can be shaped to prepare current and future architects for their role in society. The summit will expand upon the AIA Emerging Professionals strategic initiative to develop action plans for the Institute and additional stakeholders to respond to the shifting education, professional development, career path, and societal role of architects.

To diversify the knowledge base and inspire the outcomes that will lead the architecture profession for the next decade, the AIA is seeking participation from varied emerging professional stakeholders in architecture.

Who: Any individual that is a legal resident of the United States and falls into one of the following categories is invited to submit an essay for consideration: architecture student, AIAS member, intern, non-licensed professional, Associate AIA member, or architect licensed less than ten years.

When: Essay submissions are now being accepted from individuals interested in participating in the summit. Deadline for submitting an essay is November 4, 2013, 5:00pm ET. The AIA Emerging Professionals Summit will take place in Albuquerque, January 24-26, 2014. Individuals selected to attend the summit based on their essay submission will receive complimentary registration, airfare, lodging, and meals during the Summit in Albuquerque.

For more information about the rules and how to submit material, visit:
http://www.aia.org/professionals/resources/AIAB100248

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Builder Confidence Down in October; NAHB Estimates Sept. Housing Starts will Approach 900,000 Units

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes fell two points in October from a downwardly revised reading in the previous month to a level of 55 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.

“Builder optimism remains above 50 and we are still seeing signs of pent-up demand in many markets across the country,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “This slight dip in builder sentiment is the result of continuing challenges in the marketplace with regard to the cost and availability of labor and lots and uncertainty in Washington”

“A spike in mortgage interest rates along with the paralysis in Washington that led to the government shutdown and uncertainty regarding the nation’s debt limit have caused builders and consumers to take pause,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, interest rates remain near historic lows and we don’t expect the level of rates to have a major impact on sales and starts going forward. Once this government impasse is resolved, we expect builder and consumer optimism will bounce back.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All of the HMI’s three components each fell two points in October. The component gauging current sales conditions registered 58, while the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months posted a reading of 62 and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers was 44.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South held steady at 56, the West declined a single point to 60 and the Northeast fell three points to 38. The Midwest posted a one-point gain to 64.

NAHB Estimates Housing Starts Approach 900,000 Units in September

** With the partial shutdown of the federal government preventing the U.S. Census Bureau from releasing a housing starts estimate for September, NAHB has prepared its own.

NAHB estimates that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of construction for single-family homes was between 620,000 and 630,000 units in September.

NAHB estimates that the pace of construction of multifamily units was an additional 255,000 to 270,000, bringing the anticipated pace of total housing starts in September to between 875,000 and 900,000 units.

“The NAHB estimate of 875,000 to 900,000 total housing starts is based on continuing improvement in single-family starts and ongoing volatility in multifamily construction,” said Crowe.

“Single-family starts dipped in July but rebounded in August, and we expect continued strength in September,” Crowe added. “The Fed meeting in mid-September provided additional relief to builders and buyers that interest rates would remain near historic lows for the immediate future, encouraging consumers back into the housing market.

“Meanwhile, multifamily starts have been unusually volatile since the beginning of the year, swinging between 250,000 and 400,000 units from month-to-month. We expect some bounce back from the August pace of 263,000 as multifamily starts continue to trend around 300,000 units.”

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

** Some of the statements in this press release may contain forward-looking statements or statements of future expectations based on currently available information. Such statements are naturally subject to risks and uncertainties. Factors such as the development of general economic conditions, future market conditions, unusual catastrophic loss events, changes in the capital markets and other circumstances may cause the actual events or results to be materially different from those anticipated by such statements. NAHB does not make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or updated status of such statements. NAHB expressly disclaims liability to anyone for any decision made or action taken in conjunction with the information and/or statements in this press release or for any related damages.

For more information visit www.nahb.org

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PPG introduces SOLARBAN 67 glass for residential windows
Neutral coating provides excellent solar control, brilliantly clear exterior appearance

PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG) has introduced SOLARBAN® 67 solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glass for the residential market. Launched earlier this year for commercial building applications, Solarban 67 glass is formulated with a proprietary double-silver, magnetron-sputtered vacuum deposition (MSVD) coating that combines excellent solar control performance and a brilliantly clear neutral-glass appearance that reflects the true timbre and brightness of ambient light and color.

In a standard ¾-inch insulating glass unit (IGU) with clear glass and a ½-inch air space, Solarban 67 glass provides visible light transmittance (VLT) of 55 percent and a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.29. Solarban 67 glass also has exterior reflectance of 19 percent, which enhances its ability to reflect true-to-life color, and interior reflectance of 16 percent, which provides excellent outdoor views and a more comfortable living environment for homeowners. The winter nighttime U-value for Solarban 67 glass is 0.29.

For more information about Solarban 67 glass or other PPG architectural glasses certified through the CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED(CM) program, visit www.ppgglass.com or call 888-PPG-GLAS (774-4527).

PPG: Bringing innovation to the surface.™

PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty products company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in nearly 70 countries around the world. Sales in 2012 were $15.2 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol:PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com and follow @PPGIndustries on Twitter.

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Garland Roofing Introduces the Industry’s First Antimicrobial Technology for Healthcare and Other Occupant-Sensitive Environments

Microorganisms on a rooftop can cause many problems, contaminating indoor air quality and causing foul odors. They can also discolor, corrode, and shorten the service life of a roof. Garland’s innovative Clear-Shield Rx™ technology is a clear-acrylic, non-toxic coating designed to provide at least twelve months of antimicrobial protection. It resists bacterial and fungal growth on the applied surface, reducing the rate at which the surface will discolor or deteriorate, as well as decreasing the quantity of roof top contaminants entering air intakes. Its ability to improve indoor air quality makes Clear-Shield Rx coating an ideal solution for healthcare, schools, and other environments where occupant comfort is paramount.

Clear-Shield Rx coating provides a transparent and durable antimicrobial film that can be applied to various roof systems, including gravel-surfaced modified bitumen, smooth-surfaced modified bitumen, and single ply roofing. Its weatherable acrylic resin base increases the service life of the applied surface. Once applied, the bonded antimicrobial film is non-leaching, nonvolatile, odorless and colorless, and produces virtually no chemical vapors. It is safe for use around people, animals, and plants and can be easily applied with rollers or a pump spray.

According to Joe Mellott, Garland’s director of business development, “Clear-Shield Rx is a robust exterior-grade emulsion polymer. The product is designed to adhere to a multitude of roofing surfaces and finishes. Its water-based, low-odor formulation contains only trace amounts of VOC, so there aren’t any harsh odors to disrupt building occupants during application. In addition to helping preserve rooftop appearance and durability, our laboratory research has shown this coating can significantly reduce surface biological growth, potentially improving the quality of air being drawn into facilities by reducing rooftop contamination.”

Clear-Shield Rx coating can be used on most non-metal rooftops that are not subject to ponding conditions. Garland makes no claim, nor should any be inferred, that this product is particularly intended to neutralize or control microorganisms directly or indirectly infectious or pathogenic to humans or animals. Its protective properties are designed specifically to reduce the types of bacterial growth most likely to discolor and deteriorate rooftops made of organic materials, thereby improving interior air quality in relation to those types of bacteria.

The Garland Company, Inc. is one of the worldwide leaders of quality, high-performance roofing and building maintenance solutions for the commercial, industrial and institutional markets. For over 100 years, Garland has continually developed unique product and service offerings that have raised the bar of performance while exceeding the individual needs of customers throughout the world. Today, our network of over 200 local building envelope professionals is ideally positioned throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to provide quality roofing solutions for single and multi-property facilities. The Garland Company Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company.

More detailed information regarding the specific properties of this unique rooftop coating are available on the Garland Web site (www.garlandco.com) or by calling 1.800.321.9336.

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Construction Spending In August Is... Unknown Because Of The Federal Government Shutdown As Industry's Recovery Is Threatened

Total construction spending hit an unknown level in August because the Census Bureau was unable to release new data as a result of the federal government shutdown according to the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that the impacts of the shutdown will go beyond data as solicitations for many new construction projects come to a halt.

“It is hard to get a sense of where the industry is heading when basic construction spending data isn't available,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Unfortunately, the lack of federal spending data likely foreshadows a decline in federal construction spending until the government reopens.”

Association officials urged members of Congress to quickly resolve the political impasse that resulted in a federal shutdown starting today. They warned that solicitations for new federal construction projects will be delayed until the federal government reopens. In addition, other federal construction projects may be delayed as many federal supervisors will not be available to answer questions, approve change orders.

“Depending on how long the government is closed, construction workers are likely to miss out on new job opportunities,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “This shutdown poses a real risk of undermining the industry's long-awaited recovery.”

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Architects Issue Statement on Federal Government Shut-Down; FAQs on Effects on Construction Industry

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today issued the following statement on the partial federal government shutdown that began early this morning. Please attribute to AIA President Mickey Jacob, FAIA:

“The AIA is a non-partisan professional association; we work with members of both political parties. And like most Americans, AIA members are extremely disillusioned with the current state of affairs in the nation’s capital.

“The design and construction industry is slowly recovering from one of the worst economic crises in modern history. The last thing we need is the self-inflicted wound that can potentially further damage the economy.

“We urge both political parties to set aside political divisions and put the “common good” of the American public first. That phrase is an anachronism in today’s political vernacular, but lawmakers ought to commit it to memory in coming weeks as the fight over the budget commences and the deadline to address the debt ceiling arrives.

“We urge the public to ask their Congressional to refocus their debate to responsibly and immediately address the federal budget. Above all, we urge the public not to become politically disengaged. That, in part, is why the AIA has posted a comprehensive set of FAQs on our website as a way to measure the impact of the shut-down and to provide AIA members with an opportunity to make sure their voice is heard.”

About the American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Builder Confidence Unchanged in September

Following four consecutive months of improvement, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes held unchanged in September with a reading of 58 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

“While builder confidence is holding at the highest level in nearly eight years, many are reporting some hesitancy on the part of buyers due to the sharp increase in interest rates,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “Home buyers are adjusting to the fact that, while mortgage rates are still quite favorable on a historic basis, the record lows are probably a thing of the past.”

“Following a solid run up in builder confidence over the past year, we are seeing a pause in the momentum as consumers wait to see where interest rates settle and as the headwinds of tight credit, shrinking supplies of lots for development and increasing labor costs continue,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations in the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average,” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

HMI component indexes were mixed in September. While the component gauging current sales conditions held unchanged at 62, the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months declined three points to 65 and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers increased one point, to 47.

All four regions posted gains in their three-month moving average HMI scores in September, including a two-point gain to 41 in the Northeast, a four-point gain to 64 in the Midwest, a two-point gain to 56 in the South and a four-point gain to 61 in the West, respectively.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

For more information visit www.nahb.org

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Record High 291 Housing Markets Listed As Improving In September

A total of 291 metropolitan areas across the country now qualify as improving housing markets, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) for September, released today. This reflects a gain of 44 markets from August and marks the index’s highest level since it was initiated two years ago.

The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. In September, 242 housing markets retained their existing positions on the IMI while 49 new markets were added and five were dropped from the list. Recent additions include such geographically diverse locations as Macon, Ga.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Brownsville, Texas; Spokane, Wash.; and Milwaukee, Wis.

“Just over 80 percent of the 361 metros tracked by our index are showing consistent growth in three key measures of housing market strength – prices, permits and employment,” explained NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “While there is still plenty of room for growth, this is an excellent indication of how the housing recovery has begun to take hold across more geographic areas.”

“The dramatic increase in markets qualifying for the IMI in September was partly due to a recent improvement in the way that Freddie Mac measures home prices, which resulted in stronger gains than previously reported,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Even so, the broadened list of metros on the IMI continues to demonstrate the slow but steady gains that individual housing markets are making to bolster the national outlook.”

“With every state now able to claim at least one county that’s part of an improving metro, and 23 states having charted at least one new entry in September alone, prospective home buyers have good reason to be encouraged by this news,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co.

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metro area must see improvement in all three measures for at least six consecutive months following those measures’ respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.

A complete list of all 291 metros currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in September, is available at www.nahb.org/imi.

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Construction Employment Stalls In August But Jobless Rate Drops As Firms Report Hiring Difficulties; Association Calls For Steps To Avert Shortages
Drop in Unemployment Despite Lack of Hiring Shows Workers Leaving Industry; Association Survey Finds Difficulties Hiring Both Craft Workers and Professionals, Points to Need for Education & Immigration Reform

Construction employment stagnated in August, while the industry unemployment rate fell and a majority of companies reported difficulty finding workers, according to an analysis of new government data and an industry survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials called for education and immigration reform measures needed to ensure an adequate supply of skilled workers.

“After a strong rebound in 2012, construction hiring and spending have been stuck in neutral through most of 2013,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Yet the unemployment rate for former construction workers hit the lowest August level in five years, suggesting that experienced workers are leaving the industry rather than returning to it. As a result, firms are already having trouble finding workers.”

Construction employment totaled 5,798,000 in August, matching the July total, which was revised up by 5,000 from the initial estimate released four weeks ago. The August total is 3.0 percent higher than in August 2012 but has been nearly flat since March 2013. Similarly, a Census Bureau report on construction spending released on September 3 showed spending had changed little between May and July, the latest month available. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 11.3 percent in August 2012 to 9.1 percent last month—the lowest August rate since 2008.

“Over the past three years, the number of unemployed, experienced construction workers has dropped by half,” Simonson noted. “Unfortunately, the construction industry has been able to hire only about a third of those workers, while the rest have left construction for other industries, schooling, retirement or have dropped out of the labor force. The recent leveling-off of construction hiring means the industry risks losing more of its experienced workers, setting up a potentially grave shortfall when demand for construction resumes."

Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of the construction firms that responded to a survey that the association released on September 4 reported they are having difficulty filling some craft-worker positions. More than half (53 percent) of the respondents also said they are having difficulty filling professional positions.

Association officials said that the fact that hiring problems appear so widespread when overall construction employment is flat was particularly worrisome in light of the high demand for workers expected in the near future. They urged elected officials in Washington to support construction education and training programs and to treat construction equitably in guest worker provisions of immigration reform legislation.

“Construction employment has leveled off for now, but retirements and selected areas of demand mean there is still a need to address worker shortages before they become acute,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “We need to make sure there is an adequate supply of skilled construction labor to meet future demand.”

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Seventy-Four Percent Of Construction Firms Report Having Trouble Finding Qualified Workers Amid Growing Labor Shortages
Nationwide Survey Finds Most Firms Worry There Are Not Enough Craft Workers Available to Meet Growing Demand for Construction as Officials Call for Immigration and Education Reform to Help

Nearly three-fourths of construction firms across the country report they are having trouble finding qualified craft workers to fill key spots amid concerns that labor shortages will only get worse, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials called for immigration and education reform measures to help avoid worker shortages.

“Many construction firms are already having a hard time finding qualified workers and expect construction labor shortages will only get worse,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “We need to take short- and long-term steps to make sure there are enough workers to meet future demand and avoid the costly construction delays that would come with labor shortages.”

Of the 74 percent of responding firms that are having a hard time finding qualified craft workers, the most frequently reported difficulties are in filling such onsite construction jobs as carpenters, equipment operators and laborers, Sandherr said. Fifty-three percent are having a hard time filling professional positions – especially project supervisors, estimators and engineers.

The association official added that most firms expect labor shortages will continue and get worse for the next year. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they expect it will remain difficult or get harder to find qualified craft workers while 72 percent say the market for professional positions will remain hard or get worse. Seventy-four percent of respondents report there are not enough qualified craft workers available to meet future demand while 49 percent said there weren’t enough construction professionals available, he added.

Sandherr said that many firms report they are taking steps to prepare future construction workers. He noted that 48 percent of responding firms are mentoring future craft workers, 38 percent are participating in career fairs and 33 percent are supporting high school-level construction skills academies. In addition, 47 percent of responding firms are offering internships for construction professionals.

Sandherr cautioned that more needs to be done to address labor shortages. He said Congress needs to jettison arbitrary caps on construction workers that were included in immigration reform the Senate passed earlier this year. “Lifting those restrictions will go a long way to ensuring construction jobs left vacant by domestic labor shortages go to workers who are in the country legally.”

He urged elected and appointed officials to do more to ensure public school students have an opportunity to participate in programs that teach skills like construction. He added that skills-based programs offer students a more hands-on way to learn vital 21st century skills such as math and science. Such programs also have been proven to reduce dropout rates and give students an opportunity to earn the higher pay and benefits that come with construction jobs.

Sandherr added that nearly 700 construction firms participated in the survey, which was conducted during July and August of this year. Click here to see the national survey results, analysis of the data and survey results for 15 states with larger survey samples: CO, FL, GA, IA, LA, MN, MS, NC, ND, OH, OR, SC, TX, VA and WI.

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Construction Spending Hits Four-Year High In July As Private Spending Gains Outweigh Decreases In Public Infrastructure And Education Investment
New Single-Family and Multifamily Construction Advance, Along with Major Private Nonresidential Types, But Public Categories Shrink; Association Officials Urge Prompt Enactment of Federal Funding Bills

Total construction spending hit a four-year high in July as private residential and nonresidential activity increased while public spending declined, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged lawmakers in Washington to make infrastructure investment a top federal priority before funding runs out at the end of September.

“The patterns seen earlier this year reappeared in July, with strong year-over-year gains in single- and multifamily building, a range of results for private nonresidential categories, and deepening downturns in most public segments,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “These trends are likely to hold for the remainder of 2013.”

Construction put in place in July, $901 billion, was the highest mark since June 2009, and an increase of 0.6 percent from the month before and 5.2 percent from July 2012. Totals for May and June were revised up, implying a stronger second quarter for the overall economy than the government reported last week.

Private residential spending rose 0.6 percent for the month and 17 percent from July 2012. New single-family construction climbed 0.5 percent in July and 29 percent from a year ago. New multifamily spending edged up 0.1 percent in July and advanced 39 percent year-over-year.

Private nonresidential spending gained 1.3 percent in July and 2.0 percent year-over-year, Simonson observed. Components with substantial increases since July 2012 included lodging, up 33 percent; warehouses, up 11 percent; and the largest private nonresidential category, power—including oil and gas as well as electricity—up 5 percent. However, there were decreases in private health care construction, down 3 percent; and communication, down 12 percent, Simonson noted.

Public construction spending slipped 0.3 percent for the month and 3.7 percent over 12 months. The two largest public components both dropped: highway and street, down 1.1 percent in July and down 3.8 percent year-over-year; and educational, down 1.5 percent and 12 percent, respectively, Simonson said.

“Recent reports suggest the full year will continue to bring mixed news for construction,” Simonson said. “Multifamily construction will keep expanding and single-family homebuilding should do well in most regions. Private nonresidential spending will be very uneven and public construction spending remains threatened.”

Association officials urged policy makers in Washington to enact federal spending bills by September 30 in order to avoid costly interruptions to federally funded construction projects. They said even a short lapse in appropriations could be very disruptive to construction schedules for infrastructure and building projects.

“Congress and the administration shouldn’t play chicken with vitally needed infrastructure,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Shutting down a project, even for a day, can be very damaging to finishing it on time and keeping key workers on board.”

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Strong Conditions Revealed in Architecture Billings Index
Increasing demand for design services fueling recovery for construction industry

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) showed more acceleration in the growth of design activity nationally. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August ABI score was 53.8, up from a mark of 52.7 in July. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.0, down from the reading of 66.4 the previous month.

You can see this press release online here: http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB100085

“As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”

Key August ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (54.8), Northeast (54.4), Midwest (52.8), South (51.9)

  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (60.1), commercial / industrial (54.8), multi-family residential (52.1), institutional (50.8)

  • Project inquiries index: 63.0

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

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Builder Confidence Unchanged in September

Following four consecutive months of improvement, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes held unchanged in September with a reading of 58 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

"While builder confidence is holding at the highest level in nearly eight years, many are reporting some hesitancy on the part of buyers due to the sharp increase in interest rates," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "Home buyers are adjusting to the fact that, while mortgage rates are still quite favorable on a historic basis, the record lows are probably a thing of the past."

"Following a solid run up in builder confidence over the past year, we are seeing a pause in the momentum as consumers wait to see where interest rates settle and as the headwinds of tight credit, shrinking supplies of lots for development and increasing labor costs continue," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations in the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average," or "low to very low." Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

HMI component indexes were mixed in September. While the component gauging current sales conditions held unchanged at 62, the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months declined three points to 65 and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers increased one point, to 47.

All four regions posted gains in their three-month moving average HMI scores in September, including a two-point gain to 41 in the Northeast, a four-point gain to 64 in the Midwest, a two-point gain to 56 in the South and a four-point gain to 61 in the West, respectively.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

ABOUT NAHB: The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. NAHB is affiliated with 800 state and local home builders associations around the country. NAHB's builder members will construct about 80 percent of the new housing units projected for this year.

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New Field-Trimmable Strong-Wall® SB Shearwall Offers Greater Design Flexibility and Lateral-Force Resistance

Simpson Strong-Tie introduces the Strong-Wall® SB shearwall, a prefabricated wood shearwall offering enhanced design flexibility and greater lateral-force resistance for a broad range of applications, including narrow and tall wall spaces. In areas susceptible to seismic activity or high winds, the SB wood shearwall provides structural support comparable to that of narrow steel shearwalls. The wall is designed for residential, multifamily, and light-frame commercial construction, including garage portals and other large openings.

The SB shearwall is field-trimmable for custom applications and rake walls, and is designed to easily fasten to headers with convenient drill zones and a chase for wiring. The wall is code listed to the 2012 International Building Code® (ICC-ES ESR-2652) and the City of Los Angeles building code (RR25730). The SB shearwall is available in dimensions ranging from 12"x7' to 24"x20' for standard, portal, two-story stacked, balloon-framing and rake-wall applications.

The Strong-Wall SB shearwall is available nationwide. For more information, download the Strong-Wall® SB shearwall catalog at www.strongtie.com/strongwall.

Note: The Strong-Wall® SB shearwall is previously known as the TJ® Shear Brace. Simpson Strong-Tie acquired the product line from Weyerhaeuser earlier this year.

About Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc.
For more than 55 years, Simpson Strong-Tie has focused on creating structural products that help people build safer and stronger homes and buildings. Considered a leader in structural systems research, testing and innovation, Simpson Strong-Tie works closely with industry professionals to provide code-listed, field-tested products and value-engineered solutions. Its structural products are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. The company’s extensive product offering includes connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, lateral-force resisting systems, anchors and products that repair, protect and strengthen concrete. From product development and testing to training and engineering and field support, Simpson Strong-Tie is committed to helping customers succeed. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.strongtie.com.

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Builder Confidence Rises Three Points in August

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose three points to 59 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for August, released today. This fourth consecutive monthly gain brings the index to its highest level in nearly eight years.

“Builders are seeing more motivated buyers walk through their doors than they have in quite some time,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “What’s more, firming home prices and thinning inventories of homes for sale are contributing to an increased sense of urgency among those who are in the market.”

“Builder confidence continues to strengthen along with rising demand for a limited supply of new and existing homes in most local markets,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, this positive momentum is being slowed by the ongoing headwinds of tight credit and low supplies of finished lots and labor.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Two of the HMI’s three components posted gains in August. The component gauging current sales conditions rose three points to 62, while the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months gained a single point to 68 and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers held unchanged at 45.

All but one region saw a gain in its three-month moving average HMI score in August. The Midwest and West each posted six-point increases, to 60 and 57, respectively, while the South posted a four-point gain to 54 and the Northeast held unchanged at 39.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

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