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Construction Economic News

Stay up to date on the latest construction economic news and get in-depth analysis and insights from Chief Economist Alex Carrick and Senior Economist Michael Guckes.

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Concerning the cost of doing business, a lot of attention has been focused lately on sharply rising material input prices. But compensation rates haven’t just been sitting idly by, quietly twiddling their thumbs, either.

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This isn’t a hard point to make. A great deal of emphasis in the coming years will be placed on decarbonization. A full-court shift to electrification is viewed by many as a primary means to achieve desired and commendable levels of carbon reduction. What is not being presented or discussed thoroughly, though, is how costly this will be. Nor will the shift to greater usage of renewable electric power be the only factor pushing up day-to-day living and business expenses. There are a host of others including investments in cyber security; commitments to employee compliance courses; deeper workplace cleaning efforts; and accelerating adoption of high tech.  

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Clichés are often true and it is the case that a picture can be worth a thousand words.

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The accompanying table records the top 10 project starts in the U.S. for September 2021.

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A Chipmaker to the Rescue ConstructConnect announced today that September 2021's volume of construction starts, excluding residential work, was $38.0 billion (see shaded green box, bottom of Table 8 below), an increase of +12.7% compared with August 2021's level of $33.7 billion (originally reported as $33.0 billion).

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There are two big stories from the September Jobs reports just released for the U.S. and Canada.

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Graph 2 at the end of this article shows that the gap between high year-over-year material cost increases, as captured in two Producer Price Index (PPI) series, and relatively restrained year-over-year bid price increases from contractors (also coming from a PPI) is narrowing, but it remains immense.

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For the first time in nearly a year, the four major stock market indices featured in Table 1 fell into a rough patch in September, all declining in a range that extended from -2.5% for the TSX to -5.3% for NASDAQ.

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U.S. Housing Starts Stay Elevated Construction activity in the United States is currently being sustained almost exclusively by residential work. Year to date through August, the put-in-place capital spending figures from the Census Bureau show the residential dollar volume to be +25.8% compared with Jan-Aug 2020 and nonresidential to be -6.7%. The grand total is +7.0%.

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Two of the major themes that will be governing U.S. construction activity as the coronavirus-caused downturn recedes into legend will be electrification and decarbonization. In most ways, they are two sides of the same coin, with the former seen by many in public governance, with environmental think tanks, and even among the general populace, as the best way to achieve the latter.   

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