Construction Economic News
The National Association of Realtors January data release, covering activity for December 2022, pointed to a 10th consecutive month of quickly declining U.S. existing home sales. December’s reading of 4.02 million units was hardly different from the 4.01 million units reading, recorded soon after federally mandated lockdowns forced many title and realty offices to cease normal operations. To find an equivalent period, one must return to the worst depths of the Great Recession in mid-2010 to find a period when existing home sales activity was below the latest recorded level.
TD Economics, a division of Toronto Dominion Bank Group, released its latest Canadian Economic Outlook report on January 10, 2023. In it, the bank forecast an 11.7% decline in home prices and an 11% decline in housing starts during 2023. TD’s glum housing outlook is comparable to that of Canadian financial services cooperative Desjardins.
Hourly construction wage data recorded a 5.8% annual gain in December 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compared to just one month ago, hourly wages rose by 0.42%. In dollar-per-hour terms. These increases represent annual and monthly per-hour gains of $1.80, and $0.15, respectively. These latest readings once again put wage inflation ahead of materials inflation which fell year-on-year to a recent low of 3.3% after increasing briefly by more than 30% YoY in 2021. The history of annualized wage and material cost increases over the years has seen both components successfully contend for the title of leading construction cost driver.
Clichés are often true and it is the case that a picture can be worth a thousand words.
Megaprojects are 2022’s Story of the Year ConstructConnect announced today that December 2022’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential work, was $50.1 billion, an increase of +58.1% compared with November’s figure of $31.7 billion (originally reported as $31.1 billion). After a relatively quiet month for megaproject starts (i.e., those of a billion dollars or more each) in November, they came roaring back in the latest month.
On January 12, 2023, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index results for December, measuring the change in prices of goods and services. To Wall Street’s relief, the numbers pointed to a notable decline in the inflation rate compared to a month ago.
The collective revenues of the 14 largest U.S. publicly-traded firms in the nonresidential construction industry grew at a historic pace during the seven-quarter period between the end of 2020 and the third quarter of 2022, the latest quarter for which actual results are available. Total revenues during the period increased by nearly 50%, with the fastest growth occurring during the second half of 2022 as demand for construction surged.
ConstructConnect’s Expansion Index is a monthly measure of the dollar value of planned or contemplated construction projects compared to the same month one year ago. The Index geographically covers Canada, the United States, and their respective states and metropolitan statistical areas.
Fighting through the headwinds of more restrictive interest rates, the U.S. economy managed another good month of jobs creation in December, +223,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It should be noted, however, that the month-to-month increase in nationwide employment has been gradually diminishing over the past six months.