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.
There’s a shorthand way of looking at some of the key implications for the construction industry from the major push underway everywhere to reduce carbon emissions. It’s to consider how fossil fuels are used in production processes currently and what the opportunities are for their replacement by nonpolluting substitutes.
As a companion piece to ConstructConnect’s recent article on movements in U.S. construction material costs, today’s story will look at what’s been happening in Canada. Similar to America, Canada has seen moderation in prices for some individual construction inputs. On the whole, though, the Canadian easing has perhaps not been as extensive. Table 1 seems to support that assertion.
In 2021 and continuing into early 2022, construction material costs, with the pandemic in full swing and interest rates effectively zero, shot up on a year-over-year basis like never before (see Graph 1). Contractors were largely caught by surprise and did not feel they could raise their bid prices right away. Individually, they were worried about winning contracts and surviving.
Where are we on the recession watch? In a nutshell, the flow of events is confusing. There are certainly reasons to suspect slower economic times are heading our way, and the difficulties that have arisen in the banking sector have done nothing to lighten the mood. Although, in a strange and unexpected twist, financial sector turmoil may be serving a beneficial purpose by causing the Fed to become more restrained in its interest rate tightening measures.
Today, the Federal Reserve has chosen the middle path in raising its policy-setting interest rate by 25 basis points (where 100 basis points = 1.00). The target range for the federal funds rate is now 4.75% to 5.00%.
Much of Canadian construction activity is tied to the extraction (or harvesting) of the nation’s resources. Canada has such an abundance of resources that, with respect to most commodities, domestic demand can be readily satisfied, leaving a great deal of scope for export sales. The difference between big export dollar volumes and low import dollar volumes makes a significant contribution to gross domestic product.
The accompanying table records the top 10 project starts in the United States for February 2023.
Clichés are often true and it is the case that a picture can be worth a thousand words.
No Longer Just About Megas ConstructConnect announced today that February 2023’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential work, was $33.0 billion, a decrease of -42.4% versus January 2023’s figure of $57.2 billion (originally reported as $57.0 billion).
The March release of ConstructConnect’s Expansion Index registered another month of impressive gains for the construction industry across both the United States and Canada. At the national level, the U.S. index result reported a sequential month of strong double-digit gains, while Canada’s reading posted a six-month high.