The biggest construction employment pickup was in Georgia (9%), followed by Nevada (8%), Louisiana and Indiana (both 7%), and New Mexico (6%). The largest losses were in New Hampshire (-8%), Colorado (-6%), Massachusetts and Wisconsin (both -5%). U.S. population grew 1% to 290.8 million in the year ending July 1, 2003, the Census Bureau reported Thursday (http://eire.census.gov/popest/data/states.php). That growth rate was a slight deceleration from the 1.1% growth in the prior 12 months. DC lost 5,773 people (1%) and North Dakota lost a minimal 74; every other state gained. For the 17th consecutive year, Nevada was the fastest-growing state, up 3.4%. A little more than half the growth came from natural increase (births-deaths), with the rest from net migration.
But there were sharp differences among states in the sources of growth, a fact with implications for the types of construction that will be needed.
For instance, the birth rate in West Virginia was so low that deaths exceeded births but in-migration from other states and abroad enabled the state to pass six others and DC in rate of overall growth. Conversely, Utah had the highest birth rate (2% of its July 2002 population, vs. a national rate of 1.4%) but migration to other states held down the overall growth rate to 8th fastest.
Output of construction supplies rose for the fifth month in a row, with a second straight 1% gain; the level was 1.4% higher than in November 2002. Capacity utilization in factories, an early indicator of possible future demand for factory construction, moved up 0.8% to 74.3% in November but remained far below its long-run average (80.2%).
The Wall Street Journal reported that real estate firms report “a rebound for the warehouse part of the industrial real-estate market. But the high-tech and manufacturing real-estate sectors are still weak….Office-service real estate-a mix of back offices and warehouse or showroom space-also is picking up.”
Housing starts soared to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2,070,000 in November, the government reported Tuesday - the highest rate in nearly 20 years and nearly 18% higher than the year-ago rate. Single-family starts reached their highest pace ever - 1,695,000 units, 21% higher than in November 2002. Multi-unit starts climbed 5% from a year before to a rate of 375,000. Building permits, a reliable indicator of starts in the next few months, dropped 5% from October but were 6% higher than a year ago.
Real (net-of-inflation) average weekly earnings rose 0.6% in November from October, seasonally adjusted, and 2.1% from November 2002, BLS reported. Over the year, average hourly earnings of construction workers moved up 2% without adjusting for inflation to $19.07 (23% higher than the average for all private production or nonsupervisory workers). Average weekly earnings in construction went up 2.8%, as weekly hours rose. The weekly rise was 1.2% net of inflation.
“The nation's health care and social assistance sector registered an 8% increase in revenues last year,” Census reported. Hospital revenues climbed 10%, with the portion paid by private insurance rising 11%. Revenues of private physicians' offices rose 8%; the private insurance piece was up 9%. The figures help explain the rise in both health-insurance premiums and health-care construction that have occurred in 2003 and appear likely to continue in 2004.