Tag Archives: Nonresidential Construction

Mid-year economic outlook for nonresidential construction: Expansion continues, but vulnerabilities pile up

Emerging weakness in business investment has been hinting at softening outlays.

AUGUST 12, 2019 |

Courtesy Pixabay

More than 10 years after the end of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. economy is again making history by continuing its longest-ever expansion. Nevertheless, emerging weakness in business investment has been hinting at softening outlays, giving commercial and industrial construction contractors cause for concern, according to a mid-year economic outlook by Anirban Basu, chief economist of Associated Builders and Contractors.

“Given that every expansion in U.S. history has ended in recession, leaders of construction firms are rightly wondering when the record-setting expansion will end,” said Basu. “Looking at conditions on the ground, it likely won’t be in 2019, but 2020 could be problematic for the broader economy and 2021 for a significant number of contractors.”

Basu cites numerous vulnerabilities that could trigger a recession in 2020, including:

— Trade wars

— Softening corporate earnings

— Slowing job growth

— Elevated levels of household, corporate and government debt

— Election 2020

But there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic. “For the most part, the economy has held up better than anticipated,” said Basu. “During the first quarter of 2019, gross domestic product expanded at a smart 3.1% annualized rate. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ initial estimate suggests that the economy slowed to 2.1% growth during the second quarter, but that neatly beat economists’ expectation that that growth had fallen below 2%.”

“The economy could continue to prove resilient,” says Basu. “To date, the economy has navigated ongoing trade disputes and associated tariffs with aplomb. It has also withstood serial interest rate hikes, the longest federal government shutdown in history, extreme weather, shifting immigration policy, ongoing labor market shortages and a lengthy investigation regarding foreign influence in U.S. elections.”

To read the full economic outlook story, visit ConstructionExec.com.

Continue reading Mid-year economic outlook for nonresidential construction: Expansion continues, but vulnerabilities pile up

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Nonresidential construction spending slips modestly in May

Among the 16 nonresidential construction spending categories tracked by the Census Bureau, five experienced increases in monthly spending.

JULY 01, 2019 |

According to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data published today, national nonresidential construction spending declined 0.9% in May, totaling $788.5 billion on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis and a 4.4% increase compared to the same time last year. While total public and private nonresidential spending declined 0.9% since April, public spending was up 11.2% and private spending was down 0.1% year over year.

Among the 16 nonresidential construction spending categories tracked by the Census Bureau, five experienced increases in monthly spending, including transportation (4%), communication (1.3%) and public safety (1.2%). Religious (-5.5%), commercial (-3.3%) and highway and street (-3.4%) experienced the largest monthly decreases, although highway and street spending remained up 17.1% compared to May 2018. Total construction spending is down 2.3% compared to the same time last year, and residential spending is down sharply.

“Private construction spending has been slipping for several months,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Commercial construction spending decreased nearly 14% during the past year, which represents a stark reversal from previous trends when America’s consumer-spending-led expansion produced substantial demand for commercial construction. That said, commercial spending is up 102% compared to May 2010. Other private construction categories such as office and lodging have also been weak as rising construction and capital costs render pro formas more problematic. There are also growing concerns regarding overbuilding in certain segments/markets.

“What was different about today’s release was the decline in public construction spending,” said Basu. “While the drop was reasonably small on a monthly basis, it stands in stark contrast to the preexisting trend. With the economic expansion entering its record 11th year, state and local government finances are generally in good shape, leaving more money to spend on infrastructure. Based on broad economic dynamics and fiscal considerations, there is little reason to believe that the dip in May portends a slowdown in infrastructure spending during the months ahead.”

 

 

 

 

 

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