Chief Economist: Alex Carrick

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

Economic Forecasts

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    CMD’s Q2 2014 U.S. Regional Construction Starts

    The tables below showcase CMD’s U.S. regional non-residential building and heavy engineering/civil construction starts. The latest (Q2 2014) year-to-date results are compared with the same period of last year. The percentage changes are shown in the right-hand columns. These tables will be updat...

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    The ‘Green’ Movement: Where It’s Been and Where...

    Having set out, ever so briefly, the history of the environmental movement in Part 1 of this two-part article, let’s move on to consider the energy and economic frameworks of tomorrow’s world. (Continued from Part 1.) Even a pure “green” earth will continue to need vast amounts of energy. What for...

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    The ‘Green’ Movement: Where It’s Been and Where...

    In the broadest of strokes, the ten points below outline where the protect-the-environment movement has focused its efforts and achieved commendable success so far. In the second part of this article, I’ll make the case that future efforts to “go green” will be bound hand-in-glove (or current-to-l...

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    Lower Oil Prices, Three Safety Valves and an...

    The world price of oil is on a downslide. It currently sits just north of $80 USD per barrel, after a remarkably long period of stability when it was slightly above $90. This is setting off arterial and vascular chain reactions that are bewildering in their implications. In what follows, I’ll tr...

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    Non-residential Construction Start Trend Graphs...

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

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    Top 10 largest construction project starts in...

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

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    Mild Retreat for Non-residential Construction...

    CMD announced today that the dollar value of construction starts in September, excluding residential activity, fell by 13.6% versus August. Nearly one-quarter of the decline was due to seasonality. CMD’s long-term average August-to-September percentage change has been -3.0%. September’s month-to-mo...

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    A Dozen Mid-October Economic Nuggets

    This month’s Nuggets report will feature interesting news items (and commentary) in about equal proportion to some of the latest economic statistics. Too many tasty morsels have been served up fresh by media outlets to leave them untouched on my plate. Broadly-speaking, I’ll try to mix them up, sw...

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    No, ‘The Shadow’ Does Not Know

    “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” Those opening lines were spoken by Frank Readick Jr., to introduce the 1930s to 1950s radio show that took its title from the main character. It turns out, though, that the assertion is incorrect. Otherwise, the Shadow would ne...

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    Four Cities in Texas at Top of ‘49 Major Labor...

    Today’s Economy at a Glance will compare labor markets in the 49 largest (by population) urban centers in the U.S. It’s not enough to say that a labor market is good because the unemployment rate is low. How about job creation? If it’s stagnant or declining, then the overall picture isn’t as brig...

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    While the Eagle Soars, the "Loonie" Migrates...

    Don’t be shocked if the value of the Canadian dollar (i.e., the “loonie”) keeps migrating south. Canada’s exchange reached its zenith between late April and early July, 2011, when one loonie was able to purchase 1.05 U.S. dollars (a.k.a., “greenbacks”). The loonie dipped below parity with the gr...

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    Obamacare and Baby Boomers Focus Attention on...

    The health care market, a pillar of institutional construction activity at any time, now warrants even more attention due to the introduction of Obamacare in the U.S. and the rapid aging of the population both north and south of the border. The year 2014 is 68 years beyond the year 1946. Therefore,...

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    Tasty Morsels for Hawks at the Fed from...

    There’s lots to like in The Employment Situation ‒ September 2014 report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For starters, the jump in jobs in the latest month was 248,000, bringing the monthly average so far this year to 230,000. September’s jobs-gain roared back after a performance ...

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    "Taking Inventory" of U.S. and Canadian Unsold...

    U.S. total housing starts in August slipped to 956,000 units annualized from 1.1 million in July, suggesting some momentum may have been lost in the residential real estate market. The numbers are published in a joint press release entitled New Residential Construction in August 2014 from the Censu...

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    The U.S. Southeast Commercial Market Outlook

    The Southeast (SE) Region of the United States is comprised of eight states. In alphabetical order, they are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Among those states, the lowest unemployment rates are currently being recorded in Florida (6...

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    March of the Centenarians (Part 2)

    By 2063, not only will the West be considerably more dominant than the East, but it will also ‒ and this is something that hasn’t been remarked upon much, to my knowledge ‒ put Ontario in its slipstream.  Continued from Part 1. During the whole 50 years, the population growth rate for the East (ac...

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    March of the Centenarians (Part 1)

    Statistics Canada recently published its population projections, 2013 to 2063, for the nation as a whole, plus the provinces and territories. The data set is available online in Cansim Tables 052-0005 and 052-0006. Ottawa’s statistical agency is adamant that its numbers are projections rather th...

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    U.S. PPI Results in July send up some Warning...

    The accompanying table shows many of the key U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) results for July as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most of the series shown are for construction overall, for construction sub-categories or for construction material/building-product inputs. At the ...

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    The Real James Bond is still on the Job

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

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    Atlanta Economic Profile and Outlook

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

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    The Highs and Lows of Construction Unemployment...

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

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    A Dozen Mid-September Economic Nuggets

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

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    Non-residential Construction Starts Trend...

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

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    Top 10 largest construction project starts in...

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

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    Non-residential Construction Starts Bounced...

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

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

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

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    Matching Construction Employment to Oil...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Do Millennials Eat Burgers and Donuts?

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

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    The Stock Markets Got it Right

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

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    Indulging a Sweet Tooth in the Fed’s Candy Store

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

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    Canadians are Standing at the Corner, Waiting...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Ten Mid-August Economic Nuggets

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