The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 01, 2019

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Jobless rate stable in Michigan, U.S.

Michigan is enjoying a low 4.2 percent unemployment rate, but compared to the rest of the country, there's some room for improvement.

Our state's jobless rate, reported the news service MIRS on Oct. 18, is the nation's eighth highest and is tied with Ohio. The national unemployment rate in September fell to 3.5 percent, a 50-year low.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Vermont (2.2 percent) had the lowest jobless rate in the nation. The BLS said 15 states had unemployment rates below 3.5 percent. The highest unemployment rate was in Alaska (6.2 percent).

Michigan's rate was unchanged in August and September. Over the past year, Michigan’s unemployment rate edged up by three-tenths of a percentage point. The national jobless rate was down (-0.2 points) over this period.

“Michigan’s labor market showed typical seasonal trends in September,” said Jason Palmer, director of Michigan's Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “With the start of the academic year, some youth and young adults tend to exit the labor market in September as seasonal and tourism-related jobs decline.”

Cement industry sees low growth 

The first of year-end construction prognostications have arrived - and the cement folks say their industry is on fairly solid ground.

The Portland Cement Association (PCA) on Oct. 22 released its annual Fall Forecast which predicts "moderate growth" for cement consumption through 2019 and into 2020. The PCA said it expects cement consumption will grow by 2.4 percent in 2019, 17 percent in 2020, and 1.4 percent in 2021.

"Public construction continues to receive the benefit of the 2018 federal budget that allowed for $20 billion in spending on roads, bridges, water, and rail projects over 2018 and 2019," said PCA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Ed Sullivan, "These gains come in the context of increased challenges at the state level to manage deficits as entitlement spending growth continues at a strong pace."

The PCA analysis adds that the labor market continues to power the United States economy and on a monthly basis has generated 161,000 net new jobs since the start of the year. Coupled with mild inflation rates and the continued rise of home prices, the PCA said it will take some time before the economy takes a significant downturn.

"The economy is now the longest economic expansion post-World War II history. Some of the pent-up demand zip that invigorates the initial stages of economic recovery are long past. As such, the economy is now more vulnerable to economic shocks," said Sullivan. "While PCA does not believe data revealed by the economy suggests a recession is near, it does point to a gradually weakening economy."

Founded in 1916, the PCA serves America's cement manufacturers and PCA members represent 91 percent of U.S. cement production capacity and have facilities in all 50 states.