No April Fools' joke-construction springs ahead in activity, jobs, earnings, orders
April 1, 2005

April 1, 2005
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
The value of construction put in place totaled $1.047 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in February, the Census Bureau reported today. The total was the 13th straight monthly record and marked a gain of 0.4% from the downwardly revised total for January and 10% from February 2004. For the first two months of 2005 compared to January-February 2004, the overall increase of 10% was well balanced among private residential, +13%, private nonresidential, +8%, and public, +6%. There were large increases for several private nonresidential subcategories: manufacturing, +32%, communication, +30%, lodging, +26%, and amusement & recreation, +14%. There were moderate increases in commercial, +8%, health care, +7%, and office, +6%, but power continued to slump, down -7%. The two largest public subcategories, educational and highway & street, rose 6% and 17%, respectively. These figures are not adjusted for inflation.

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the producer price index for construction materials and components rose 9.9% from February 2004 to February 2005. That index appears likely to go up again in March. Today the Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing purchasing executives listed price increases for a range of construction inputs from February to March: aluminum, copper, diesel fuel, freight charges, petroleum-based products, steel, and wood, although steel was listed by some as having dropped in price. Steel products were listed in short supply.

Construction contributed nearly one-quarter (26,000) of the 110,000 gain in seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment in March, BLS reported today. Employment gains for January and February were trimmed slightly overall but boosted for construction. In the past 12 months, construction employment has risen 3.6% to a record 7,147,000, more than twice as fast as the 1.6% gain in all nonfarm employment. All five BLS subcategories of construction employment shared in the gains since March 2004: residential building, +7.1%, nonresidential building, +3.7%, heavy and civil engineering, +0.8%, residential specialty trades, +3.4%, and nonresidential specialty trades, +3.6%. The large employment gains do not seem to be triggering a surge in construction wages, however. Average hourly earnings of construction workers rose just 1.1%, seasonally adjusted, from March 2004 to March 2005. At $19.37 per hour, construction wages last month were 21% higher than the average for all nonsupervisory or production workers.

Construction employment increases have been widespread among states, according to Thursday's BLS report on February employment by state. Compared to January, seasonally adjusted construction employment rose in 30 states, fell in 13, and was unchanged (or within 100 jobs) in seven states plus the District of Columbia. Compared to February 2004, construction employment rose in 44 states, fell in five plus DC, and was within 100 of prior-year totals in Rhode Island. The largest year-over-year percentage gains were in Nevada (+18%), Arizona, Delaware, and Utah (+9% each), and Hawaii, Idaho, and Oregon (+8% each). Over the 12-month span, total nonfarm employment rose in 49 states and DC, and decreased only in Michigan.

Construction contributed disproportionately to earnings growth by state in the fourth quarter, according to Tuesday's release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on state per capita personal income. Earnings (wage and salary disbursements, supplements to wages and salaries, and proprietors' income) rose 1.5% overall and 1.7% in construction from the third quarter of 2004 to the fourth quarter. Total earnings grew in every state and DC, with growth ranging from 3.2% in South Dakota and 3.1% in Iowa to 0.9% in Connecticut and 0.6% in Rhode Island and Washington. Construction earnings fell 0.3% in Nebraska, were unchanged in Michigan, and rose everywhere else, led by Nevada (+4.9%), Alabama and Montana (+4.5% each). Earnings are not seasonally adjusted; construction earnings are likely to be weaker in states subject to seasonal construction slowdowns in the fourth quarter.

Construction also outstripped overall manufacturers' new orders in January and February, Census reported Thursday. Overall orders (excluding semiconductor manufacturing) rose 9% from the first two months of 2004. Orders for construction machinery rose 14% and construction materials and supplies rose 10%. The figures are adjusted for “trading day” differences (such as Leap Day 2004) but not for price changes.

BLS on Tuesday provided perspectives on the types of lost-worktime injuries and illnesses that workers in different industries and occupations incurred in 2003 ( Construction accounted for 155,000 nonfatal cases involving days away from work, 12% of the total for all private industries. The report distributes cases by nature and source of injury of ilness, contributing event or exposure, and part of body affected, among other characteristics.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Plumbing & Mechanical. 

Recent Articles by Ken Simonson

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

2014 Truck of the Month

PM has featured so many great plumbing service trucks! See plenty of them here in our Truck Of The Month Archives page. Are you proud of your truck? Go to our Truck of the Month page to find out how your service truck could be chosen!

9/16/14 9:00 am PDT

Free Webinar: Acoustical Isolation

HOLDRITE will be hosting a free webinar for Acoustical Isolation on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.

Plumbing and Mechanical

2014 August

2014 August

In the August issue of PM, read about the continued construction and renovations being made to hotels and restaurants. Find out the focus of this year's ISH China show will be, who made this month's Truck of the Month and read what Elkay has to say about their commercial construction expansion. Also, read the latest news and discover the newest products being used by professionals in the plumbing and mechanical industry.
Table Of Contents Subscribe

Back to School

It’s back-to-school time, how do you stay knowledgeable on the industry:
View Results Poll Archive

The Plumbing and Mechanical Store

2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Truck of the Month

Truck of the month

Are you proud of how your service truck looks? Do the graphics give people whiplash as they drive by? Have your calls increased because people remember your truck — and your company name? If so, we’d like to see it, too! Click here to find out how your service truck could be chosen as PM's Truck of the Month.



Connect to PM on Facebook Connect to PM on Twitter  Watch PM on YouTube    Connect to PM on Linked InGoogle+