The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, February 14, 2014

News Briefs

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

Higher contracts in construction

U.S. construction contracts saw an average increase of 2.9 percent for all of 2013, a nice leap from the 2.4 percent rise in 2012.

Construction did relatively well compared to contract settlements in other industries. Manufacturing contract settlements rose 2.1 percent, and state and local government contracts rose 1.6 percent.

Combined, all labor contracts in 2013 saw average first-year wage increases for all settlements were up 2.1 percent – not a big hike, but significant percentage wise vs. the 1.6 percent raise in 2012.

The data was compiled by Bloomberg BNA.

Momentum builds for U.S. building

McGraw Hill’s Dodge Momentum Index for the U.S. sailed through January with a “relatively strong” 3 percent rise in its measure of initial reports for nonresidential building projects, the group reported Feb. 7.

Except for two minor dips in June and October of 2013, McGraw Hill said “the Momentum Index has been on a steady climb for over a year.”

The January increase for the momentum Index was driven by strength for its commercial building, up 5.7 percent, while institutional building held steady.

Architects like what they see in 2014

WASHINGTON – And continuing with the good news, the American Institute of Architects finds “healthy fundamentals” in the commercial property market and “more traditional growth levels” in the international economy adding up to a healthy increase in construction activity in 2014.

In its semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast released Jan. 29, the AIA projected U.S. construction would rise 5.8 percent this year, and 8 percent in 2015. This follows a report on a survey released last month by the Associated General Contractors that said contractors mostly expected stability and growth in the market in 2014.

“Since the overall economy is stabilizing, there should be a significant improvement in the outlook for the construction industry that has been recovering at a slow and steady pace the last two years,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “At a more granular level, the surging housing market, growing commercial property values, and declining office and retail vacancies are all contributing to what is expected to amount to a much greater spending on nonresidential building projects.”

Baker also said that “the rosy outlook also contains several concerns for the entire construction industry.  Rising construction costs, a shortage of skilled labor, and bank credit standards that have not eased up enough to keep pace with the strong demand for construction financing are all serious challenges to sustained growth in the coming years.”