Monday, October 28, 2013

The Construction Economy Is Better, But Not Much

Nationwide, overall construction growth slowed from July’s 1.4% to less than half that rate, at 0.6% for August, according to the federal Commerce Department numbers released October 22. Housing construction was up 1.2% in August, with other sectors of the construction economy lagging far behind housing. On the same day, the U. S. Department of Labor announced that construction businesses added 20,000 new jobs in September, a 3.4% increase over the last 12 months to a total of 5,826,000 construction employees across the nation.
Pointing out that both these sets of figures are from the time right before the federal government shutdown, Associated General Contractors Chief Economist Ken Simonson points out that catastrophe “likely disrupted a wide variety of projects and may have caused private investors and developers to delay decisions about new projects or plant expansions.”
Among Midwestern states, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin see construction contractors returning to work, while Indiana and Ohio suffered increases in the levels of idled construction equipment and tradespeople.

Now that the federal government shutdown is over, at least for the next three or four months, appropriations committees in the House are starting work on spending bills which will help contractors who depend on infrastructure work. Wednesday, October 23 the House passed the first such bill – the Water Resources Reform and Development Act – which funds flood control, waterway and harbor construction at a level $4 billion less than the Senate version passed last May, and $15 billion less than the 2007 appropriation bill, which is the last time Congress acted on waterway appropriations.
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