The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, December 14, 2018

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Michigan's jobless rate lowest since '00

Michigan's latest unemployment rate, announced at 3.9 percent on Nov. 21 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the lowest since 2000. 

But Michigan is still not even in the top half of states when it comes to low jobless rates: our state ranked No. 29, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month. Nationally, the jobless rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent. Hawaii had the lowest unemployment rate in October at 2.3 percent. Alaska had the highest with 6.4 percent.

Approximately 250,000 jobs were created in October 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment increased in health care, manufacturing, construction, and in transportation and warehousing. The BLS reported that nationwide, the number of unemployed persons in October was little changed at 6.1 million.

Over the course of 2018, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed declined by 0.4 percentage point and 449,000, respectively.

Construction spending up vs. 2017

U.S. construction spending inched lower in October from September levels but increased from the October 2017 total, according to Dec. 3 analysis of new Census data by the Associated General Contractors of America. 

"Although most segments of construction continue to post year-over-year spending gains, investment in vitally needed infrastructure has stalled or shrunk in the past four months," said Ken Simonson, the AGC's chief economist. "If infrastructure contractors start losing employees to more-active construction segments, it may be hard to get infrastructure projects done on time once funding resumes." 

Construction spending totaled $1.309 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in October, a dip of 0.1 percent from the September rate but 4.9 percent higher than in October 2017. Private residential construction fell 0.5 percent for the month but increased 1.8 percent year-over-year. Private nonresidential spending slipped 0.3 percent from September to October but increased 6.4 percent over 12 months. Public construction spending, comprising public buildings and infrastructure, increased 08 percent for the month and 8.5 percent for the year.

The AGC said that public spending was boosted by large increases in educational spending and other public building segments, while all public infrastructure categories had declined from recent highs.

"Infrastructure is vital to all Americans and is a subject both parties should be able to agree on funding and improving," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGC's CEO. "The incoming Congress has an opportunity to create a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will benefit all regions and all parts of the economy.".