Latest Construction Spending and Jobs Reports Show Mixed Results

Construction spending in glass-heavy sectors continued to increase in November, but December industry-related employment numbers were lukewarm, according to USGNN.comâ„¢ analysis of recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and U.S. Census Bureau data.

Employment

Nonresidential specialty trade contractors, which includes contract glaziers, increased employment by 0.9 percent from December 2015 to December 2016, the BLS reports. This segment also saw a 0.1-percent decline from November. The specialty trade contractors category as a whole was lifted by the residential segment, which saw a 3.9-percent increase over the year. Residential specialty trade contractors were the only construction subsector that increased employment from November to December.

Overall construction employment increased 1.5 percent for the year with a 102,000-job increase, though the industry lost 3,000 jobs on a monthly basis. According to industry economists from the Associated General Contractors of America and Associated Builders and Contractors, the lackluster numbers may be indicative of a skilled worker shortage rather than a lack of work, as November’s construction spending marked a ten-year high.

Employment in the nonmetallic mineral products category, which includes glass manufacturing, increased 0.6 percent for the month and 1.5 percent for the year. Employment in fabricated metal products increased 0.4 percent from November to December but is down 1.1 percent from November 2015.

Construction

The latest construction numbers show strength in the building sectors most relevant to the glass industry.

Construction spending for office buildings rose 2 percent from October to November and 27.5 percent year-over-year (to $76.2 billion), the Bureau reports. Lodging construction is also up big over the year, increasing 28.4 percent to $29 billion. It increased month-over-month by a 6.9-percent margin.

Commercial construction saw a 12.4-percent increase from November 2015 to November 2016 (to $76.1 billion), with a 0.3-percent increase from October 2016.

The educational sector increased spending by 9.1 percent (to $92.4 billion) from the same time last year and 2.5 percent from the prior month. Healthcare buildings continue to lag, with a 1.5-percent decrease in construction from last November (to $41.8 billion) and a 0.1-percent dip from October 2016.

New multifamily construction dipped 2.7 percent for the month but was 10.7 percent higher than in November 2015 (to $61.9 billion).

Amusement and recreation saw a 13.2-percent increase in construction spending (to $22.5 billion) from the same time last year and a 1.1-percent increase from the prior month. Finally, the transportation segment decreased construction by 1 percent for the month (to $42.2 billion) and declined by 8.6 percent for the year.

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