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AGC's Data DIGest: March 24-31, 2017

Construction employment increases in 43 states; Manpower finds 'stable' hiring outlook

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment rose in 43 states from February 2016 to February 2017 and fell in seven states and the District of Columbia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Friday showed. Rhode Island led in percentage gain (12%, 2,200 jobs), followed by Idaho (10%, 4,200), Oregon (10%, 8,900) and Louisiana (9.6%, 13,500). The most jobs added were in Florida (34,700, 7.5%), California (16,500, 2.2%), Texas (14,200, 2.0%) and Louisiana. Mississippi lost the highest percentage and number of jobs (-8.7%, -4,000). D.C. had the next-steepest percentage loss (-6.9%, -1,100), followed by Alaska (-3.0%, -500). Virginia had the second-largest job loss (1,400, -0.7%), followed by D.C. Employment set a record in Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York and Texas. (AGC's rankings are based on seasonally adjusted data, which in D.C. and six states is available only for construction, mining and logging combined.)

"Nationwide, hiring prospects remain relatively stable when compared with the first quarter of 2017, and are also relatively stable when compared with Quarter 2 2016," Manpower Group wrote on March 14 in its second-quarter summary of interviews with 11,000 U.S. employers in 13 industry sectors. Construction employers on balance reported "relatively stable hiring intentions" nationally and in the West for the second quarter, but "slightly stronger hiring intentions" in the Midwest and South, and "moderately stronger hiring intentions" in the Northeast.

"Immigrants made up 17.1% of the total U.S. workforce in 2014, or about 27.6 million workers out of 161.4 million," the Pew Research Center reported on March 18. "About 19.6 million workers, or 12.1% of the total workforce, were in the U.S. legally; about 8 million, or 5%, entered the country without legal permission or overstayed their visas....Private households were the most immigrant-intensive 'industry' in 2014. Of the 947,000 people working for private households, 45% were immigrants." Construction was ninth among industries ranked by immigrant share of workers, at 24%. Among occupations, construction and extraction ranked third (27% immigrant share), behind farming, fishing, forestry (46%) and building/grounds cleaning and maintenance (35%).

 Jim Sobeck, editor of New South Construction Supply Newsletter, wrote in the March issue on March 22, "I have heard from multiple banks that they have either totally stopped lending for multifamily construction or have significantly curtailed this and/or are asking for much higher percentages of equity for them to fund these jobs. They are all worried that the boom in multifamily construction has created a bubble and the banks are all trying to limit their downside. I am, however, told that they continue to be aggressively funding single-family and commercial/industrial construction." The newsletter also included these price change announcements: "Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS), the largest domestic manufacturer of polyethylene corrugated drainage pipe, increased prices by 8% effective March 2...R Max announced on February 27 a 7% price increase on polyisocyanurate insulations effective April 1....On March 1, GCP Applied Technologies notified their distributors that they will increase prices by 7.5% on certain waterproofing and air barrier products April 1....Right Pointe will implement an 8% price increase on their entire line of hot applied joint sealants effective April 1...Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing will increase prices effective April 1 [by 7%] for commercial waterproofing products and air barriers [and 4%] for drainage products....Most polyolefin under-slab vapor-barrier manufacturers, including Raven Industries and Stego, increased prices by approximately 5% the first week in March and have announced a second price increase for April 1 of 6 to7%....After scrap steel posted up by $40/ton on March 7, domestic rebar mills in the Southeast quickly increased prices [$25/ton.] Many analysts expect scrap steel to post up again in early April and if it does, expect domestic rebar mills to increase prices shortly thereafter....Offerings for imported rebar for late April/early May shipments in the Southeast are 6 to 7% higher than what offerings were for late March/early April delivery. Offers for July delivery are 12% higher than April/May offerings." Data DIGest readers are invited to submit pricing notices and comments about lending conditions to simonsonk@agc.org.

Construction trades occupations employed over 4.2 million people (4% of total national employment) in May 2016, BLS reported on Friday in releasing annual estimates for over 800 occupations in the nation, states and nearly 600 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. National data are available by industry for more than 430 industry classifications. The largest construction trades were laborers, 912,100; carpenters, 676,980; and electricians, 607,120. The highest-paying construction occupations were elevator installers and repairers ($76,860 per year) and first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers ($68,040). The lowest-paying construction occupations were roofers' helpers ($28,890) and helpers of painters, paperhangers, plasterers and stucco masons ($28,760). For construction and extraction occupations, the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco metropolitan division was one of the highest-paying areas ($71,960); the lowest-paying areas included Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas ($31,030), and Sebring, Fla. ($31,270). The industry outside of the construction sector that employed the most construction laborers was employment services (53,410), which includes temporary help services. BLS's Occupational Employment Statistics website also shows employment totals and wages by industry. The annual mean wage for the 6,687,000 employees in the construction industry was $52,630, 8.4% higher than the $48,550 mean for all 118,846,000 private-sector employees.

The Data DIGest is a weekly summary of economic news; items most relevant to construction are in italics. All rights reserved. Sign up at www.agc.org/datadigest