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TradeWinds

Industry News List

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Construction Employment Increased In 39 States And D.C. From A Year Ago And In 29 States And D.C. From March To April As "Fragile" Recovery Continues

Florida Has Largest Percentage and Total 12-Month Gains, New Jersey Has Biggest Annual Decline; Rhode Island and Texas Top Monthly Rankings, While Maine and Virginia Shed the Most Jobs Between March and April

Construction firms added jobs in 39 states and the District of Columbia over the past 12 months and in 29 states and D.C. between March and April according to an analysis today by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials welcomed the mostly positive figures but cautioned that the industry’s recovery remained fragile, with construction employment levels below prior peaks in every state except North Dakota.

“Growing demand for a range of construction services and better weather helped boost construction employment in most states in April,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But we are still a long way away from getting back to the kind of employment levels the industry experienced nearly a decade ago.”

Florida led all states in both percentage and total construction gains with a 12.1 percent rise and 43,300 new jobs between April 2013 and April 2014. Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included North Dakota (11 percent, 3,400 jobs); Nevada (9.4 percent, 5,400 jobs) and Utah (8.4 percent, 6,100 jobs). After Florida, California added the most new construction jobs for the year (39,000 jobs, 6.2 percent), followed by Texas (23,900 jobs, 3.9 percent) and Pennsylvania (9,800 jobs, 4.3 percent).

Ten states shed construction jobs during the past twelve months, while employment was unchanged in Wyoming. New Jersey lost the highest percent, -6.8, and the most jobs, -9,300. Other states losing a high number of jobs included New Mexico (-2,000 jobs, -4.8 percent); Alabama (-1,800 jobs, -2.2 percent) and Virginia (-1,700 jobs, -1 percent). After New Jersey, the states with the highest percentage decline in construction employment were New Mexico, West Virginia (-3.7 percent, -1,300 jobs) and Alabama.

Texas (7,500 jobs, 1.2 percent) added the most jobs between March and April, followed by California (7,100 jobs, 1.1 percent); Pennsylvania (6,500 jobs, 2.8 percent) and Florida (4,800 jobs, 1.2 percent). Rhode Island (5.5 percent, 900 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Iowa (4.6 percent, 3,100 jobs); the District of Columbia (4.5 percent, 600 jobs) and Pennsylvania.

Twenty states lost construction jobs for the month with Virginia (-3,100 jobs, -1.7 percent) losing the most. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included New Jersey (-2,800 jobs, -2.1 percent); North Carolina (-2,500 jobs, -1.4 percent); Minnesota (-2,200 jobs, -2 percent) and Arizona (-2,200 jobs, -1.8 percent). Maine (-3.4 percent, -900 jobs) experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by New Mexico (-2.7 percent, -1,100 jobs); West Virginia (-2.1 percent, -700 jobs) and New Jersey.

Association officials noted that Congressional action on vital infrastructure measures yesterday could help sustain the industry’s recovery. A Senate committee approved new surface transportation legislation that will make it easier for state and local officials to fund road, bridge and transit construction projects. Meanwhile, a House-Senate conference committee released a final version of a Water Resources Reform & Development Act that will fund waterways, port, dam and other important infrastructure projects once it becomes law.

“The industry’s recovery will remain on track if these two infrastructure measures continue to receive the kind of strong bipartisan support we saw this week,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But if members of Congress really want to help the economy, they need to act quickly to make sure we don’t run out of federal road and bridge repair money by this summer, as the government predicts.”

View the state employment data by rank, by state.

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New Post Base Simplifies Installation When Pouring Porch Slabs

Simpson Strong-Tie, the leader in engineered structural connectors and building solutions, has a new PPBZ porch post base that eliminates the need for temporary vertical support of the porch roof structure while still providing adequate safety to enable full access for installers and inspectors.

Unlike other porch post bases, the PPBZ is installed once and supports permanent porch framing throughout all stages of construction. The porch post base is fastened to the footing with two Simpson Strong-Tie® Titen® screws when framing the porch roof. The concrete contractor can then complete the last phase of the porch slab without the interference of temporary vertical support. Designed to withstand vertical construction loads prior to embedment in concrete, the PPBZ will support the weight of most framed porches and overhangs.

Key product features include:

  • Stiffened embedded side stirrups provide temporary vertical download support without being embedded into concrete

  • 1" stand-off reduces the potential for decay at post or column ends and satisfies IRC requirements for protection of wood columns

  • Two available sizes for both 4" and 6" slab thicknesses, and it may be ordered for all thicknesses in between

  • Help minimize disruptions to jobsite scheduling

  • Eliminates additional move-ins by trades and certain inspection callbacks

  • ZMAX® coated for added corrosion resistance

To learn more about the PPBZ porch post base, visit www.strongtie.com/newproducts.

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 engineered structural connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, lateral-force resisting systems, anchors and products that repair, protect and strengthen concrete.

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Contraction in Architecture Billings Index Continues
Most favorable business conditions in the South region

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has reverted into negative territory for the last two months. 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 April ABI score was 49.6, up slightly from a mark of 48.8 in March. This score reflects a decrease in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.1, up from the reading of 57.9 the previous month.

The AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in April was 54.6.

“Despite an easing in demand for architecture services over the last couple of months, there is a pervading sense of optimism that business conditions are poised to improve as the year moves on,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “With a healthy figure for design contracts this should translate into improved billings in the near future.”

Key April ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (57.5),West (48.9), Midwest 47.0), Northeast (42.9)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.6), commercial / industrial (50.2), mixed practice (50.7), institutional (47.1)

  • Project inquiries index: 59.1

  • Design contracts index: 54.6

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts 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 recently released White Paper, Designing the Construction Future: Reviewing the Performance and Extending the Applications of the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index 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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Multifamily Surge Propels Housing Starts Over 1 Million Mark in April

Soaring production of multifamily apartments pushed nationwide housing starts above the million-unit mark in April, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. Total housing production rose 13.2 percent for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.07 million units, due entirely to a 39.6 percent increase on the multifamily side, while single-family production held steady.

"The flat single-family data confirm our latest surveys, which show that single-family builders remain concerned that tight credit availability and uncertain economic conditions are keeping potential buyers on the sidelines," said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. "However, demand for apartment construction still remains high."

Single-family housing starts rose 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 649,000 units in April. Meanwhile, multifamily production jumped 39.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 423,000 units - their fastest pace since January 2006.

"The growth in multifamily production is a very positive development as it shows an expected increase in household formations from young people renting apartments and taking the first step into the housing market," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "These young households will form the demand for ownership in the future."

All four regions posted gains in combined single- and multifamily housing production in April, with the Northeast posting a 28.7 percent gain, the Midwest registering a 42.1 percent increase, the West posting an 11.1 percent increase and the South noting a 1.5 percent gain.

Issuance of building permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, rose 8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.08 million units in April. This was due entirely to an increase in the multifamily sector, where permits registered a 21.8 percent gain to 453,000 units. Single-family permits registered a marginal 0.3 percent gain to 602,000 units.

#####

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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Nonresidential Construction Index Continues to Grow

NRCI = 65.8

FMI, a leading provider of management consulting and investment banking* to the engineering and construction industry, announces the release of the 2014 Second Quarter Nonresidential Construction Index report. The NRCI shows slight improvement of a 0.9 point increase from Q1 and a 5.7 point increase from Q2 2013.

Although growth continues, it is beginning to slow indicating that the economy still holds a lingering recession mentality. The largest repercussion of this mindset is that it keeps companies from investing, banks from lending and consumers from spending. Thus, the pressure to keep prices low continues along with the need for greater profitability, leading to two key challenges:

  1. How to improve productivity?

  2. Where to find qualified personnel?

A 1.7 point decline in the productivity component of the NRCI is indicative of these challenges. To answer these issues, deliberate time must be spent on new ideas, innovation, and R&D. However, 47 percent of industry panelists indicate that their company does not have an ongoing research and development effort. This suggests an opportunity exists to improve market position for those companies that can be the most innovative.

When panelists were asked where the industry most needs to focus future innovation, one industry leader responded, “On anything that makes construction more productive. More productivity means less labor is needed on-site during a time of real labor shortages.”

To read the full report, click here. Members of the media may request a complimentary PDF file by clicking here. For reprint permission or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact Jenna Luvin at 303.398.7202 or jluvin@fminet.com.

About FMI:
FMI is a leading provider of management consulting, investment banking* and research to the engineering and construction industry. We work in all segments of the industry providing clients with value-added business solutions, including:

  • Strategic Advisory

  • Market Research and Business Development

  • Leadership and Talent Development

  • Project and Process Improvement

  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Consulting*

  • Compensation Benchmarking and Consulting

  • Risk Management Consulting

Founded by Dr. Emol A. Fails in 1953, FMI has professionals in offices across the U.S. FMI delivers innovative, customized solutions to contractors; construction materials producers, manufacturers and suppliers of building materials and equipment, owners and developers, engineers and architects, utilities, and construction industry trade associations. FMI is an advisor you can count on to build and maintain a successful business, from your leadership to your site managers. For more information, visit www.fminet.com

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PPG to highlight graffiti-resistant coatings at AIA National Conference and Expo
DURANAR VARI-COOL and DURANAR powder coatings also will be on display

PPG Industries’ (NYSE: PPG) coil and building products coatings group will highlight CORAFLON® GR (graffiti-resistant) and DURANAR® GR coatings at the 2014 American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention and Expo in Chicago, June 26-28.

Coraflon GR high-gloss and Duranar GR medium- and low-gloss coatings are made with a proprietary formula that provides a clear, graffiti-resistant barrier over the pigmented color layer of the coating, enabling surfaces to be wiped clean from graffiti, paint overspray, pen and marker ink, lipstick, scuff marks, tape residue, tar bugs and many other substances after application of DURAPREP® Prep 400 graffiti remover by PPG. The graffiti system developed by PPG is believed to be the only one sold and tested by the same company.

PPG will display its complete line of Duranar powder coatings. Composed with the same 70-percent polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) formulation as Duranar liquid coatings, Duranar powder coatings are available in a wide range of colors, emit virtually no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and create very hard abrasion- and scratch-resistant finishes for high-traffic areas.

Visitors to the PPG booth will find information about Duranar VARI-COOL® coatings – formulated with PPG’s proprietary ULTRA-COOL® infrared-reflective coating technology – which cut energy use in buildings by deflecting solar heat. Duranar VARI-Cool coatings also incorporate special pigments that appear to change color depending on ambient lighting conditions and the angle from which they are viewed. All Duranar coatings meet American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) 2605 specifications, the industry’s highest performance standard for metal coatings.

To learn more, visit PPG at booth 4617, log on to www.ppgideascapes.com, or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (772-4332).

PPG: Bringing innovation to the surface.™
PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty materials company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and after markets 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. Net sales in 2013 were $15.1 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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Spring 2014 Gilbane Building Construction Economics Report - Market Conditions in Construction

Gilbane’s Spring Construction Economics Report Confirms Industry Job Growth Improved in 2013. Workforce Growth Still Needed to Meet Increasing Demand.

Click here to download.

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EarthCam Time-Lapse Documents Construction of the El Paso Triple-A Ballpark

WHAT: EarthCam’s newest hand-edited time-lapse movie highlights progress for the City of El Paso’s new Triple-A Ballpark. Watch construction for the new baseball stadium from September 2013 to April 2014 with high definition imagery captured by EarthCam’s live streaming webcam.

WHY: The City of El Paso recently introduced the El Paso Chihuahuas, the newest Triple-A baseball team in the country. The multi-million dollar ballpark in downtown El Paso will serve as home field for the team.

HOW: Click here to watch EarthCam’s new time-lapse movie for The City of El Paso Triple-A Ballpark.

ABOUT EARTHCAM
EarthCam is the global leader in delivering webcam content, technology and services. Founded in 1996, EarthCam provides live streaming video and time-lapse construction cameras for corporate and government clients in major cities around the world. EarthCam's revolutionary gigapixel camera systems deliver superior billion pixel clarity for monitoring and archiving the world's most important projects and events. With EarthCam’s Photography Documentation Services, clients capture jobsite progress photos and upload them directly to site plans that can be shared with colleagues for an indisputable visual record. Most recently, EarthCam launched ConstructionCamTV, a new 24-hour “TV channel” devoted to live construction cameras and educational time-lapse movies. In 2013, EarthCam’s technology documented more than $120,000,000,000 of valued construction work.

Projects documented by EarthCam include: National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Barclays Center, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument Restoration, New NY Bridge, Panama Canal Expansion, Smithsonian Institution Restoration, Brickell CityCentre, Minnesota Vikings Stadium, Disneyland, 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’s innovative solutions at www.earthcam.net.

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PPG launches online energy modeling and analysis tool
Tool models, compares energy costs for specific architectural glazings, building designs

PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) has launched an online tool that enables architects and specifiers to model energy costs for a statistically representative 12-story building constructed with selected PPG architectural glazings to optimize daylighting, heat gain, occupant comfort and energy consumption.

Located at http://glassenergyanalysis.ppg.com, the tool enables users to specify PPG glass according to visible light transmittance and window type, and to configure the prototype building using inputs for climate zone, building shape and orientation, and window-to-wall ratio. Once data are entered, the tool generates a report using U.S. Department of Energy reference building energy simulation software showing energy costs associated with each of the selected glazings. Cost savings for each architectural glass type are benchmarked against a baseline insulating glass unit (IGU) incorporating two panes of uncoated clear glass.

The finished report presents energy and cost data in 11 categories, including energy use index, electricity usage, gas usage, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) cooling load, HVAC air-flow rate, operating electricity savings, operating gas savings, operating energy savings, first-year HVAC cost savings, 10-year energy plus first-year capital cost savings, and emissions reductions. Comprehensive footnotes provide extensive detail about the simulation model.

The PPG Energy Modeling Tool is the latest addition to a suite of Web-based resources to help architects and designers streamline the glass specification process. Others include PPG Glass eVIEW, PPG Glass Education Center, project gallery and a library of Building Information and Modeling (BIM) files.

Visit www.ppgideascapes.com to try the tools, or call 1-888-PPG-IDEA (774-4332) to learn more.

PPG: Bringing innovation to the surface.™
PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty materials company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and after markets 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. Net sales in 2013 were $15.1 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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Architecture Billings Index Mired in Slowdown
Northeast and Midwest regions seeing steepest drop in demand for design services

Following a modest two-month recovery in the level of demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) again turned negative last month. 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 March ABI score was 48.8, down sharply from a mark of 50.7 in February. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.9, up from the reading of 56.8 the previous month.

With this release, the AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in March was 48.2.

“This protracted softening in demand for design services is a bit of a surprise given the overall strength of the market the last year and a half,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Hopefully, some of this can be attributed to severe weather conditions over this past winter. We will have a better sense if there is a reason for more serious concern over the next couple of months.”

Key March ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.8),West (50.7), Northeast (46.8), Midwest (46.6)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.1), commercial / industrial (49.6), institutional (49.0), mixed practice (47.6)

  • Project inquiries index: 57.9

  • Design contracts index: 48.2

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts 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 recently released White Paper, Designing the Construction Future: Reviewing the Performance and Extending the Applications of the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index on the AIA web site.

About The American Institute of Architects
1Founded 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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Housing Starts Rise 2.8 Percent in March

Led by a 6 percent rise in single-family starts, nationwide housing production rose 2.8 percent above an upwardly revised February rate of 920,000 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 units in March, according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We see improving signs of new-home construction as we move into the spring buying season,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “The strongest recovery is in the Northeast and Midwest, where builders were hampered by severe winter weather earlier in the year.”

“Today’s report is in line with our forecast of a gradual strengthening in the housing sector in 2014,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, several uncertainties including tight credit conditions for home buyers and erratic job growth are making builders cautious about getting ahead of demand.”

Single-family housing starts rose 6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 635,000 units in March, while multifamily starts fell 6.1 percent to 292,000 units.

Regionally in March, combined single- and multifamily housing production rose strongly in the Northeast and Midwest with gains of 30.7 percent and 65.5 percent, respectively, but fell 9.1 percent and 4.5 percent in the South and West, respectively.

Overall permit issuance fell 2.4 percent to 990,000 units in March. The Northeast and Midwest posted gains of 33.3 percent and 26 percent, respectively, while the West was unchanged and the South posted a 17.1 percent decline.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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Builder Confidence Holds Steady in April

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose one point to 47 in April from a downwardly revised March reading of 46 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.

“Builder confidence has been in a holding pattern the past three months,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Looking ahead, as the spring home buying season gets into full swing and demand increases, builders are expecting sales prospects to improve in the months ahead.”

“Job growth is proceeding at a solid pace, mortgage interest rates remain historically low and home prices are affordable,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “While these factors point to a gradual improvement in housing demand, headwinds that are holding up a more robust recovery include ongoing tight credit conditions for home buyers and the fact that builders in many markets are facing a limited availability of lots and labor.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 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.

The HMI index gauging current sales conditions in April held steady at 51 while the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers was also unchanged at 32. The component measuring expectations for future sales rose four points to 57.

The HMI three-month moving average was down in all four regions. The West fell nine points to 51 and the Midwest posted a four-point decline to 49 while the Northeast and South each dropped two points to 33 and 47, 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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March Construction Employment Increased In 38 States From A Year Ago And In Half The Country In Latest Month As Winter Weather Again Affected Jobs
Florida Scores the Biggest Percentage and Total 12-Month Gains, West Virginia and New Jersey Have Most Severe Losses; Ohio and North Dakota Lead Monthly Gainers, While Texas and New Mexico Shed the Most Jobs

Construction firms added jobs in 38 states over the past 12 months, although job gains leveled off between February and March, according to an analysis today by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said the ongoing year-over-year pickup points to the urgency of revitalizing and initiating programs to encourage workers and graduating students to get construction careers.

"The widespread gains in employment from a year ago are encouraging, given the tough winter many states endured right through March," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The never-ending winter of 2014 may account for the dip in the number of states that added construction jobs in the latest month, but it is also possible that single-family homebuilders are not adding workers as some forecasters expected."

Simonson said he expects private nonresidential construction to continue adding workers, especially in states with large oil and gas activity, such as North Dakota, Louisiana, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma. He cited apartment construction as another growth area but said single-family homebuilding may stall at a relatively low level.

Florida again led all states in both percentage and total construction gains with an 11.5 percent rise and 41,000 new jobs between March 2013 and March 2014. Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Oregon (10.8 percent, 7,800 jobs) and Minnesota (10.4 percent, 10,200 jobs). After Florida, California added the most new construction jobs for the year (37,100 jobs, 5.9 percent), followed by Texas (17,100 jobs, 2.8 percent) and Minnesota.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between March 2013 and March 2014, while employment was constant in Alaska. The largest number of losses occurred in New Jersey (-4,600, -3.4 percent), followed by Kentucky (-1,900 jobs, -2.8 percent) and West Virginia (-1,700 jobs, -4.9 percent). West Virginia had the highest percentage decline in construction employment, followed by New Jersey and the District of Columbia (-2.9 percent, -400 jobs).

Two dozen states and D.C. added jobs between February and March, led by Ohio (4,600 jobs, 2.5 percent), which rebounded from even greater job losses in the previous, winter-wracked month. North Dakota had the highest percentage increase (3.4 percent, 1,100 jobs) for the month. Louisiana ranked second in the number and percentage of monthly job gains (4,300 jobs, 3.3 percent).

Construction employment declined in 23 states and remained unchanged in Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming between February and March. Texas lost the most jobs (-5,300 jobs, -0.8 percent), followed by Illinois (-2,800, -1.4 percent). New Mexico experienced the highest monthly percentage decline (-4.2 percent, -1,800 jobs), followed by Alaska (-2.9 percent, -500 jobs) and Kentucky (-2.2 percent, -1,500 jobs).

Association officials said that the construction industry is prepared to add many more workers but that training programs and other initiatives to draw workers into construction need to be beefed up. The association recently unveiled a multi-point workforce development plan to address these needs.

"With each passing month, it becomes clearer that contractors in most states are hiring both experienced and new workers," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "It is essential for federal, state and local officials to clear roadblocks and adopt policies that will attract more workers into the industry."

View the state employment data by rank, by state.

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Construction Employment Increased In 175 Out Of 339 Metro Areas Between February 2013 & 2014 But Only 19 Areas Topped Previous Highs For The Month
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas and Monroe, Mich. Top Growth List; Gary, Ind. Again Experienced the Largest Percentage and Actual Declines for the Year

Construction employment expanded in 175 metro areas, declined in 106 and was stagnant in 58 between February 2013 and February 2014, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted, however, that despite the gains construction employment remained below peak levels in all but 19 metro areas.

"It is encouraging that contractors added workers in so many locations despite severe weather that delayed some project starts," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "At the same time, it's clear that the upturn in construction is far from universal. Activity is flat or declining in many metro areas, while contractors in the hottest locations are having trouble finding skilled workers."

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (9,600 jobs, 5 percent), followed by Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. (8,600 jobs, 12 percent) and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (8,000 jobs, 7 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Monroe, Mich. (65 percent, 1,300 jobs), El Centro, Calif. (32 percent, 600 jobs); Reno-Sparks, Nev. (31 percent, 2,600 jobs) and Pascagoula, Miss. (26 percent, 1,400 jobs).

The largest job losses from February 2013 to February 2014 were in Gary, Ind. (-4,700 jobs, -25 percent); followed by Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md. (-3,100 jobs, -10 percent); Putnam-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (-2,100 jobs, -8 percent) and St. Louis, Mo. (-1,900 jobs, -4 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was also in Gary, followed by Elkhart-Goshen, Ind. (-13 percent, -300 jobs); Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. (-13 percent, -100 jobs); Michigan City-La Porte, Ind. (-13 percent, -200 jobs) and Redding, Calif. (-13 percent, -300 jobs).

Greeley, Colo. experienced the largest percentage increase among the 19 cities that hit a new February construction employment high from the prior February peak (17 percent higher than in 2013). Baton Rouge, La. added the most jobs since reaching its prior February peak in 2013 (2,900 jobs). Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale experienced the largest drop in total construction employment compared to its prior, February 2006, peak (-83,800 jobs) while Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. experienced the largest percentage decline compared to its February 2006 peak (-69 percent).

Association officials said the fact many metro areas were adding new jobs was welcome news for the hard hit construction industry. But they cautioned that many parts of the country no longer have robust career and technical education programs that once existed across the country and that many firms already report having a hard time finding skilled workers. They released a new workforce development plan that outlines steps that local, state and federal officials can take to make it easier to establish new training programs.

"During the last four years alone, over 800,000 construction workers have left the profession," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Unless we find a way to prepare the next generation, we are going to get to a point in the near future when there aren't enough workers to meet demand on schedule or on budget."

View construction employment figures by state and rank.

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Contractors Add 19,000 Jobs In March To Hit Highest Level Since June 2009 As Construction Jobless Rate Declines To Seven-Year Low Of 11.3 Percent
Residential and Nonresidential Employment Both Increase but Ongoing Exodus of Experienced Workers Raises Urgency of Strengthening Public Measures to Attract and Train Workers, Association Officials Warn

Construction employers added 19,000 workers to payrolls in March, bringing industry employment to the highest level since June 2009, while the industry's unemployment rate dropped to the lowest March level in seven years, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials warned that the pool of available workers is declining rapidly, raising the prospects for significant labor shortages if demand continues to expand.

"The rate of construction hiring continues to outrun job growth in the overall economy for the past year," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Furthermore, the pickup has been well balanced, as both nonresidential and residential construction segments added workers last month and over the past 12 months."

Construction employment totaled 5,964,000 in March, a gain of 151,000 or 2.6 percent from a year earlier, compared with a rise in total nonfarm employment of 1.7 percent over that period, Simonson noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined total of 9,100 workers in March and 103,000 (4.8 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction—building, specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering contractors—grew by 9,900 employees last month and 48,800 (1.3 percent) since March 2013.

"Although most construction employers who need workers have been able to find them so far, increasing numbers of contractors say they are having difficulty hiring," Simonson warned. "Last month, the number of unemployed former construction workers fell to the lowest March level since 2007. More of these experienced workers are leaving the industry than are rejoining it."

The unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 14.7 percent a year earlier to 11.3 percent last month. Simonson noted that the unemployment rate for construction workers had fallen by more than half since March 2010, when it reached 24.9 percent. During that time, the number of unemployed workers who last worked in construction declined by 1.3 million, but industry employment increased by only 445,000.

"Based on projects that have been announced in recent months, contractors are likely to be seeking workers for many types of construction in most parts of the country this spring," Simonson added. "Multifamily, manufacturing, and oil and gas-related facilities will generate particularly strong demand for workers. It will be a challenge to fill all the openings."

Association officials said that one reason the industry is likely to face labor shortages is because of the declining number of secondary-level construction training programs. They urged federal, state and local officials to take steps designed to make it easier for schools, construction firms and local trade associations to establish new training programs for future construction workers.

"If elected and appointed officials don't act soon to improve the quantity and quality of training opportunities for future workers, many firms are going to have a hard time keeping up with demand," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "The last thing the economy needs is to have labor shortages undermine the construction industry's long hoped-for recovery."

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New Standard Contract for Public State and Federally-assisted Infrastructure Projects Will Help Public Owners Get Better Project Results

Today, the ConsensusDocs Coalition is publishing a new standard contract with integrated general conditions for a public works project. ConsensusDocs tailored the terms and conditions and oriented them for public works owner projects that use state public funding or federal financial assistance. This new standard contract document is expected to be particularly helpful for local and state governments that are looking to use an off-the-shelf contract solution.

The ConsensusDocs 210 is based on the same fair and balanced, best practice principles as the previously-published ConsensusDocs 200 agreement, but is tailored to public works projects, especially those that are highly-engineered construction projects, such as water and wastewater facilities. The intent of this agreement is to provide a ConsensusDocs standard document specifically tailored to public works infrastructure projects.

“Creating a standard contract tailored for public works will help public owners get the best prices from the best general contractors, especially on underground projects where site conditions are potentially involved,” comments Charles Surasky, Chair of the ConsensusDocs working group that created the document and Partner at Smith, Currie and Hancock LLP in Atlanta, GA.

In support of the ConsensusDocs 210, the Coalition is also publishing the ConsensusDocs 271 Instruction to Bidders on Public Works. This new, standard instructions document will benefit all stakeholders to public projects.

One of the distinctions in public projects is that the engineer is more likely (than on vertical construction) to be the lead design professional on the project. Originally, the agreement was going to include exhibits to comply with federal regulations, but based on owner feedback, it was determined that it would best serve the industry for individual agencies to create their own supplements. The agreement is drafted so as to be flexible to meet public local, state and federal projects.

Simply put… ConsensusDocs help you build a better way!

For more information and to order your subscription today, visit www.ConsensusDocs.org.

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Nonresidential Construction Spending Inches Higher
“The conventional wisdom is that this year’s winter weather has suppressed spending and that will make the spring recovery even stronger than it would have been, as pent up supply is released." —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that nonresidential construction spending increased 0.6 percent in February and has risen 6.1 percent since February 2013. The gains follow nonresidential construction spending declines in both January and December. Spending for the month totaled $580.5 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis.

“February’s construction spending data is difficult to interpret, as was the case in December and January, because of the lengthy and harsh winter,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The conventional wisdom is that this year’s winter weather has suppressed spending and that will make the spring recovery even stronger than it would have been, as pent up supply is released. However, the level of recovery in construction spending has not been enough to significantly improve pricing power and profit margins.

“In addition, based on ABC’s analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), skills shortages impacting construction are becoming more commonplace, which also will place downward pressure on margins,” Basu said.

Spending rose in eight of the 16 nonresidential construction subsectors in February:

  • Communication construction spending increased 7.2 percent in February and is up 52 percent from the same time last year.

  • Highway and street-related construction spending expanded 1.3 percent in February and is up 11.4 percent compared to the same time last year.

  • Amusement and recreation-related construction spending increased 1.7 percent in February and is up 3.1 percent from the same time last year.

  • Lodging construction spending rose 2.9 percent in February and is 37 percent higher than the same time last year.

  • Health care-related construction spending increased 0.4 percent but is down 4.3 percent from the same time last year.

  • Office-related construction spending expanded 0.2 percent in February and is 12.9 percent higher than the same time last year.

  • Conservation and development-related construction spending rose 5.3 percent in February and is up 3.1 percent from the same time last year.

  • Power construction spending increased 4.7 percent for the month and is 11.4 percent higher than the same time last year.

Spending in eight nonresidential construction subsectors decreased in February:

  • Religious spending fell 7.3 percent for the month and is down 22.6 percent from the same time last year.

  • Education-related construction spending fell 1.1 percent for the month and is 22.6 percent lower than the same time last year.

  • Commercial construction spending fell 0.3 percent in February but is up 12.4 percent compared to the same time last year.

  • Public safety-related construction spending fell 7 percent in February and has declined 10.5 percent since the same time last year.

  • Sewage and waste disposal-related construction spending declined 1.9 percent for the month and is 5 percent lower than the same time last year.

  • Construction spending in the transportation category fell 1.2 percent in February but has increased 5.1 percent since the same time last year.

  • Spending in the water supply category was down 10 percent on the month and is 18.1 percent lower compared to the same time last year.

  • Manufacturing-related construction spending decreased 0.1 percent in February but is up 16.7 from the same time last year.

To view the previous spending report, click here.

 

For more information visit www.abc.org.

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New-Home Sales Continue to Trend Relatively Flat in February

Sales of newly built, single-family homes fell 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000 units in February, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“There is no doubt that the persistently bad weather took a toll on sales in February,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Wilmington, Del. “However, builders continued to increase their inventory of for-sale homes, indicating they still anticipate a relatively strong spring buying season.”

“We still expect 2014 will be a strong year for housing,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The first two-month average of 2014 is exactly in line with where 2013 left off. If not for the unusual weather, we would easily be ahead of last year’s pace. We also continue to see household formations and pent-up demand driving sales forward.”

Regionally, new-home sales activity fell 32.4 percent in the weather-battered Northeast, 1.5 percent in the South and 15.9 percent in the West. The Midwest posted a gain of 36.7 percent, stemming from an unusually low January figure.

The inventory of new homes rose to 189,000 units in February, a 5.2 month supply at the current sales pace.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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Construction Employment Increased In 195 Out Of 339 Metro Areas Between January 2013 & 2014 But Only 21 Areas Topped Previous Highs For The Month
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. And Pascagoula, Miss. Top Growth List; Gary, Ind. Experienced the Largest Percentage and Actual Declines for the Year

Construction employment expanded in 195 metro areas, declined in 90 and was stagnant in 54 between January 2013 and January 2014, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted, however, that despite the gains construction employment remained below peak levels in all but 21 metro areas.

“It is a sign of the continued strengthening of the construction industry that nearly 60 percent of metros added construction jobs from a year earlier despite the severe winter conditions in much of the country this January,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Nevertheless, the industry’s recovery has a long way to go with only a smattering of metro areas exceeding their previous peak January level of employment.”

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (8,100 jobs, 7 percent), followed by Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (7,900 jobs, 4 percent), Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. (7,800 jobs, 11 percent) and Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (7,200 jobs, 7 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Pascagoula, Miss. (46 percent, 2,100 jobs), El Centro, Calif. (39 percent, 700 jobs) and Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. (38 percent, 600 jobs).

The largest job losses from January 2013 to January 2014 were in Gary, Ind. (-4,400 jobs, -25 percent); followed by Putnam-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (-2,100 jobs, -8 percent) and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C. (-1,500 jobs, -4 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was also in Gary, followed by Redding, Calif. (-17 percent, -400 jobs) and Elizabethtown, Ky. (-14 percent, -200 jobs).

Greeley, Colo. experienced the largest percentage increase among the 21 cities that hit a new January construction employment high from the prior January peak (20 percent higher than in 2013). Baton Rouge, La. added the most jobs since reaching its prior January peak in 2013 (4,500 jobs). Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale experienced the largest drop in total construction employment compared to its prior, January 2006, peak (-80,900 jobs) while Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. experienced the largest percentage decline compared to its January 2006 peak (-69 percent).

Association officials said the latest figures were a sign that construction employment is rebounding in many parts of the country, but most places still have a long way to go before returning to prior employment levels. They added that many contractors across the country were worried about a possible slowdown in federally-funded transportation projects this summer when the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to hit a zero balance. As a result, dozens of member firms had already requested over 5,000 “Hardhats for Highways” stickers as part of a campaign being organized by the Transportation Construction Coalition.

“The industry is slowing digging itself out of a construction employment hole that got pretty deep during the past few years,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If Congress and the Obama administration can't figure out a way to address highway funding shortfalls very soon, that hole is only going to get deeper.”

View construction employment figures by state and rank.

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Homeowners Ramp-Up Spending on Kitchen and Bathroom Design
Increased Focus on Upscale Design Features Signals Strengthening Market Conditions

A clear sign that the housing market is in recovery mode , households are placing greater emphasis on kitchens and baths. A sizeable share of residential architects report both the number and size of kitchens and baths are increasing. Even more indicative of an improving market is that upscale features and products used in these areas of the home are growing in popularity. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the fourth quarter of 2013, which focused specifically on kitchens and bathrooms.

Residential architects are reporting much stronger market conditions. Design billings at residential architecture firms, as well as inquiries for new design projects, have steadily improved over the past two years. Likewise, the level of project backlogs–the amount of work currently in-house for these firms–has increased.

“Now that home prices have hit bottom and are beginning to recover, households are more willing to invest in their homes, looking for more features in new homes that they are purchasing, and willing to undertake higher-end home improvement projects,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Kitchens and baths tend to be the areas that households first look to when they want to upscale their home as markets improve, just as they remained a high priority even during the depths of the downturn.”
 

Popular kitchen products and features*   2013   2012
LED lighting:   87%   N/A
Integration with family space:   44%   43%
Larger pantry space:   42%   31%
Computer area / recharging stations:   37%   47%
Wine refrigeration/storage:   35%   24%
Upper-end appliances:   35%   16%
Adaptability / universal design:   32%   35%
Drinking water filtration systems:   25%   19%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity

Baker added, “In contrast to emerging trends in kitchen design, the features increasing the most in popularity in bath design deal with growing desires for accessibility.”
 

Popular bathroom products and features*   2013   2012
LED lighting   80%   68%
Large walk-in showers   62%   N/A
Stall shower without tub   61%   49%
Adaptability/universal design   60%   54%
Doorless showers   58%   57%
Water saving toilets   44%   43%
Hand shower   36%   33%
Radiant heated floors   32%   33%
Upscale shower   31%   21%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity

Housing market business conditions
AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q4 2013 (any score above 50 is positive)
• Billings: 62
• Inquiries for new projects: 66
Specific construction segments   2013   2012
Additions / alterations:   65%   59%
Kitchen and bath remodeling:   64%   57%
Custom / luxury home market:   37%   14%
Move-up home market:   33%   19%
First-time buyer / affordable home market:   13%   16%
Townhouse / condo market:   13%   -4%
Second / vacation home market   -5%   -27%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of more than 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on overall home layout and use (June 2014) specialty rooms and systems (September 2014) and community design trends (December 2014).

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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FMI Releases Q1-2014 Construction Outlook Report

FMI, a leading provider of management consulting and investment banking* to the engineering and construction industry, releases today its Q1-2014 Construction Outlook. The forecast continues to show optimistic growth. As a whole, construction-put-in-place is predicted for an 8 percent increase for 2014, with continued growth over the next few years.

Select market predictions include:

  • Residential –Although the market is forecasted to grow, the pace is slowing. Forecasts show an 18 percent growth in single-family construction. However, multifamily construction will show a 27 percent increase in 2014, a drop from the 44 percent increase in 2013.

  • Commercial – Investors are beginning to help lift commercial construction out of a slump by taking more risks. The industry is expected to grow another 7 percent in 2014 to $52.6 billion – the highest mark since 2008.

  • Health Care – Construction will grow 2 percent in 2014, however a jump to 6 percent is predicted in 2015 as the outcomes on new health care regulations become clearer.

  • Educational – Improving state and local budgets will help move educational construction back into the growth mode. 2014 will see a 3 percent level of growth to $83 billion.

  • Power – Growth to $91.2 billion is forecast for 2014 with a slow climb from 5 percent to 9 percent over the next four years. The cost of new nuclear power will continue to hinder growth until regulatory concerns are considered.

  • Manufacturing – With signs of sustainable growth, predictions are for 5 percent in 2014 to $45.2 billion, and an upward swing with another 8 percent growth in 2015.
    Lodging –The industry forecasts 591 hotels opening in 2014 compared with the 500 in 2013. Growth at 13 percent is expected with this market reaching $16.1 billion.

  • Transportation – 2014 will see a 7 percent improvement to $4.4 billion. With the president’s 2015 budget proposal of $73.61 billion for surface transportation spending, there is a bright future in the coming years in this industry.

To download a copy of the full report, click here. For reprint permission or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact Sarah Avallone at 919.785.9221 or savallone@fminet.com.

About FMI:
FMI is a leading provider of management consulting, investment banking* and research to the engineering and construction industry. We work in all segments of the industry providing clients with value-added business solutions, including:

  • Strategic Advisory

  • Market Research and Business Development

  • Leadership and Talent Development

  • Project and Process Improvement

  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Consulting*

  • Compensation Benchmarking and Consulting

  • Risk Management Consulting

Founded by Dr. Emol A. Fails in 1953, FMI has professionals in offices across the U.S. FMI delivers innovative, customized solutions to contractors; construction materials producers, manufacturers and suppliers of building materials and equipment, owners and developers, engineers and architects, utilities, and construction industry trade associations. FMI is an advisor you can count on to build and maintain a successful business, from your leadership to your site managers. For more information, visit www.fminet.com

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Builder Confidence Treads Water in March

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built, single-family homes rose one point to 47 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

“The March HMI mirrors last month’s sentiment, as builders continued to be affected by poor weather and difficulties in finding lots and labor,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

“A number of factors are raising builder concerns over meeting demand for the spring buying season,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “These include a shortage of buildable lots and skilled workers, rising materials prices and an extremely low inventory of new homes for sale.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 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 for 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.

The index’s components were mixed in March. The component gauging current sales conditions rose one point to 52 and the component measuring buyer traffic increased two points to 33. The component gauging sales expectations in the next six months fell one point to 53.

The three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores all fell in March. The Northeast dropped three points to 35, the Midwest fell three points to 53, the South posted a four-point decline to 49 and the West registered a two-point drop to 61.

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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Construction Employment Increased In 38 States Between January 2013 And 2014 And In 27 States From December To January Despite Harsh Winter Conditions
Kansas and Florida Rack up the Largest 12-Month Gains, Wyoming and Indiana Have Biggest Declines; Idaho and Ohio Top Monthly Rankings, While Vermont and California Shed the Most Jobs in January

Construction firms added jobs in 38 states between January 2013 and January 2014, while 27 states experienced construction employment gains between December and January, according to an analysis today by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said the fact so many states added construction jobs for the year and month despite harsh winter conditions in many parts of the country is a sign that demand appears to be recovering.

"Especially considering the fact many parts of the country experienced very harsh weather in January, these construction jobs figures are particularly robust," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Yet some of these gains will be at risk if federal transportation funding comes to halt this summer as predicted."

Kansas led all states with a 10.7 percent rise (5,900 jobs) in construction employment between January 2013 and January 2014. Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the year included Oregon (9.4 percent, 6,600 jobs); Florida (9.2 percent, 32,700 jobs); Minnesota (9.2 percent, 8,900 jobs) and Alaska (9.1 percent, 1,500 jobs). Florida added the most jobs for the year, followed by California (27,300 jobs, 4.4 percent); Texas (26,000 jobs, 4.3 percent) and Ohio (11,600 jobs, 6.3 percent).

Nine states and the District of Columbia lost jobs between January 2013 and 2014, while construction employment was unchanged in three other states. Wyoming (-5.9 percent, -1,300 jobs) experienced the largest annual percentage loss, followed by West Virginia (-5.4 percent, -1,900 jobs); New Hampshire (-4.4 percent, -1,000 jobs) and D.C. (-4.3 percent, -600 jobs). Indiana (-3,700 jobs, -3.0 percent) lost the most jobs for the year, followed by West Virginia, Wyoming and New Jersey (-1,300 jobs, -1.0 percent).

Idaho (5.8 percent, 1,900 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs between December and January, followed by Arkansas (5.0 percent, 2,300 jobs); Kansas (4.6 percent, 2,700 jobs) and New Jersey (4.4 percent, 5,700 jobs). Ohio (8,000 jobs, 4.3 percent) added the most jobs for the month. Other states adding a high number of jobs for the month included New York (7,900 jobs, 2.5 percent); Pennsylvania (7,500 jobs, 3.4 percent) and North Carolina (6,400 jobs, 3.7 percent).

For the month, 21 states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs while employment levels were unchanged in two others. Vermont (-5.5 percent, -800 jobs) experienced the largest percentage decline, followed by Iowa (-3.8 percent, -2,600 jobs); Indiana (-3.4 percent, -4,300 jobs) and Missouri (-3.1 percent, -3,300 jobs). California (-6,600 jobs, -1.0 percent) shed the most construction jobs for the month, followed by Indiana, Missouri and Iowa.

Association officials said the construction employment figures were an encouraging sign that demand was rebounding after years of weak demand. But they warned that new predictions that the federal Highway Trust Fund, which finances highway, bridge and transit construction across the country, would hit a zero balance by this summer could undermine the sector's recovery during the middle of the construction season.

"Right now demand seems strong enough in many parts of the country to keep many people working in harsh, wintery conditions," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "But demand for new workers will certainly cool this summer should Congress and the administration fail to address the looming transportation funding shortfalls that threaten billions of dollars worth of construction projects."

View construction employment figures by state and by rank.

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Architecture Billings Index Shows Slight Improvement
Renewed commercial design activity and continued strong demand for multi-family residential projects fuel growth

After starting out the year on a positive note, there was another minor increase in the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) last month. 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 February ABI score was 50.7, up slightly from a mark of 50.4 in January. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 56.8, down from the reading of 58.5 the previous month.

“The unusually severe weather conditions in many parts of the country have obviously held back both design and construction activity,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The March and April readings will likely be a better indication of the underlying health of the design and construction markets. We are hearing reports of projects that had been previously shelved for extended periods of time coming back online as the economy improves.”

Key February ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.8),West (50.5), Northeast (48.3), Midwest (47.6)

  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.5), commercial / industrial (51.9), institutional (49.6), mixed practice (46.6)

  • Project inquiries index: 56.8

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national 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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Housing Starts Hold Steady in February

Nationwide housing starts were virtually unchanged in February, inching down 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 907,000 units, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau.

“Continuing the January trend and in line with our recent surveys, builders are in a holding pattern. Poor weather is keeping many from getting into the field and they continue to face challenges related to a shortage of lots and labor,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

“While housing construction is in a recent lull due to unusual weather conditions, we expect to see an improvement as the winter weather pattern subsides and builders prepare for the spring selling season,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Competitive mortgage rates, affordable home prices and an improving economy all point to a continuing, gradual strengthening of housing activity through the rest of the year. Moreover, building permits, which are less dependent on weather and are a harbinger of future building activity, rose above 1 million units in February.”

Single-family housing construction rose 0.3 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 units while multifamily starts edged 2.5 percent lower to a 312,000-unit pace.

Regionally, combined housing starts activity was mixed in the month, posting gains of 34.5 percent in the Midwest and 7.3 percent in the South and declines of 37.5 percent in the Northeast and 5.5 percent in the West.

Issuance of new building permits rose 7.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million units in February. Single-family permits edged down 1.8 percent to 588,000 units and multifamily permits rose 27.6 percent to 407,000 units. Regionally, overall permits rose 6.3 percent in the Northeast, 9.9 percent in the South and 17.9 percent in the West but declined 11.8 percent in the Midwest.

For more information visit www.nahb.org.

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Construction Industry Adds 15,000 Jobs In February To Reach Highest Level Since June 2009 As Sector's Unemployment Rate Declines To 12.8 Percent
Job Gains in Both Residential and Nonresidential Segments, along with Exodus of Experienced Workers, Suggest Risk of Widespread Worker Availability Problems Later in 2014, Association Officials Warn

Construction employers added 15,000 workers to payrolls in February despite harsh winter working conditions, raising industry employment to the highest level since June 2009, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. However, association officials noted that as the industry adds jobs many firms report they are already having a hard time finding skilled workers.

“The rate of construction hiring has outpaced job growth in the overall economy for the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “During that time, all construction segments have added workers.”

Construction employment totaled 5,941,000 in February, the highest total in 4-1/2 years and an increase of 152,000 or 2.6 percent from a year earlier, whereas total nonfarm employment rose by 1.6 percent over that span, Simonson noted. Among industry segments, residential construction employers led the way with the addition of 1,700 workers in February and 101,200 (4.8 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction added 12,700 employees since January and 50,600 (1.4 percent) since February 2013.

“While demand for construction employees is rising at a healthy clip, workers are still leaving the industry faster than they are being hired, a dynamic that may result in widespread worker shortages in the near future,” Simonson warned. “In the past four years, nearly a million experienced workers have left the industry for jobs in other sectors, retirement or school. They are no longer available for immediate recall to construction jobs.”

The unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 15.7 percent a year earlier to 12.8 percent last month—the lowest February rate since 2008. Simonson noted that the unemployment rate for construction workers had fallen by more than half since February 2010, when it reached 27.1 percent. During that time, the number of unemployed workers who last worked in construction declined by 1.34 million, but industry employment increased by only 438,000.

“Because persistently severe winter weather delayed many projects in the past few months, contractors are likely to be posting ‘help wanted’ signs on even more jobsites this spring,” Simonson added. “Multifamily, manufacturing, and oil and gas-related facilities will generate particularly strong demand for workers. Contractors in many regions and specialties may have trouble finding the employees they’ll need.”

Association officials noted that two-thirds of construction firms responding to a recent survey reported having a hard time finding enough qualified workers to fill vacant positions. They urged federal, state and local officials to enact measures outlined in the association’s recently released Workforce Development Plan that will make it easier for schools, firms and local construction associations to establish training programs.

“Unless we find a way to get more students to consider and train for careers in construction, many firms will get to a point where they don’t have enough workers to keep pace with demand,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The last thing the hard-hit construction industry needs is to be unable to take advantage of increasing demand because of the decreasing supply of available workers.”

For more information visit www.agc.org

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Bluebeam Software Launches Revu 12 for Better Field-Ready Document Management and Project Collaboration
New features and enhancements in Bluebeam’s latest PDF-based collaboration solution connect the office to the field and beyond

Bluebeam® Software, leading developer of PDF-based markup, measurement and collaboration solutions for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), oil and gas, manufacturing and other technical professionals, is announcing the release of Revu® 12, the latest version of the company’s flagship solution. This year’s Revu enhancements better enable users in document-intensive industries to digitally collaborate on project documents and more easily connect the office to the field.


 

"Revu 12 introduces and refines features to make accessing and managing project information more field-friendly, wherever the field might be,” says Richard Lee, Bluebeam Software President and CEO. “Our customers need to keep projects moving whether they are in an office, at the jobsite or on a camping trip, and the technology in Revu 12 makes it easier to finish projects faster and work better.”
Share More Details

New in Revu 12, Capture gives users the ability to add multiple photos from the field or an image library to any markup. The Capture viewer allows users to easily click through all embedded images, and the photos display in PDF summary reports so team members can see more details.

Revu’s 3D PDF features enable all project partners to get to hard-to-reach places within 3D models that have been exported from Revit®, Navisworks®, SolidWorks® or any IFC file. With Revu 12’s new SketchUp Pro plug-in, users can now create 3D PDFs from SketchUp Pro to leverage all of Revu’s 3D markup and navigation functionality for faster issue resolution.
Access Information Faster

Accessing project files in the field remains challenging—even digitally. Newly improved AutoMark™ in Revu 12 allows users to create bookmarks and page labels by combining multiple page regions, such as sheet labels and sheet numbers, and then easily adding prefixes, suffixes and symbols. AutoMark also now works with files that contain non-searchable text, such as scans, so all PDFs can be put in order, regardless of how they were made.

With the introduction of Batch Link®, Revu 12 users can automatically link up entire document sets quickly and easily by creating an unlimited number of hyperlinks by file name, page label or page region so project information is just a click away.

Creating lean documents for the field can limit the flexibility of working with related documents. Sets™ 2.0 gives users the ability to manage and navigate unlimited files as if they are a single document, in a single tab, using a new convenient list view. Hyperlinks within a Set also now automatically redirect to ensure access to the latest Set document revisions.
Get More Out of PDFs

Takeoffs and estimations, in the office or at the jobsite, are easier than ever with Revu 12’s measurement enhancements. When users take one measurement, Revu now automatically calculates all other related measurements, including Wall Area, and displays them in the Markups list, which tracks all annotations. Measurements are no longer limited to one scale with Revu’s new ability to set separate X and Y scales on a PDF. And the added ability to export sort totals from the Markups list to CSV or XML allows users to get more data from PDFs.

Revu’s new SmartGroup technology enables users to quickly view and make changes to individual annotations within a related group of markups or elements. Additionally, grouped measurements will now automatically calculate a subtotal in the Markups list.
Stay in the Know

Enhancements to Bluebeam Studio™, Revu’s integrated cloud-based collaboration solution, include the option for Studio attendees to sign up for daily email notifications of changes to project documents without having to log into Studio. Full control of a Studio Session, where project partners can comment on the same PDFs in real time, can be granted by a Session administrator to a trusted colleague, passing along the same Studio administration rights as the host so valuable conversations keep moving forward.

To learn more about all the functionality debuting in Revu 12, visit www.bluebeam.com/Revu12.

Bluebeam Software products are sold direct and through a global network of resellers. For more information, visit www.bluebeam.com.

About Bluebeam Software, Inc.
Bluebeam Software's innovative desktop, mobile and cloud solutions push the limits of digital collaboration to enable professionals, who work in the most document-intensive industries, to do what they do, better. Bluebeam's award-winning PDF solutions are used by the world’s top architectural, engineering and construction firms, oil and gas companies, manufacturers, government agencies and municipalities to reduce paper usage by more than 85% and to increase productivity by over 60%. Its Account Services team and global reseller network have been solving customer challenges in over 100 countries for more than a decade. Visit www.bluebeam.com for more on why Bluebeam is changing the status quo and setting a new standard.

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