Value of Construction Spending Slows in Glass Sectors

Spending in U.S. glass- and glazing-related construction leveled off in May, according to Key Media & Research (KMR) analysis of recent government data.

KMR estimates the value of work by glazing contractors in nonresidential building was up just 1% in May 2019 compared to the same time a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. Nonresidential construction as a whole increased 4.4% over the same span, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Breaking Down the Segments

The glass-heavy office sector continues to be resilient, as construction in this segment has increased 7.1% from a year ago. Lodging is up 7.3%, though the other “commercial” category, which includes retail, pulled back 13.7%.

The institutional grouping has remained stable, as both educational and healthcare recorded year-over-year increases of 1.8% and 3%, respectively.

However, glass-related nonresidential construction was down 1% in May compared to April, and overall nonresidential building also declined month-over-month, by 0.9%. Four of the five subcategories noted above (with lodging being the lone exception) saw month-over-month declines, signaling that contract glazier work may be peaking out.

Residential construction dipped 11.2% from May 2018 to May 2019.

Industry Employment

Despite a slowdown in construction spending, the recently released employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests the glass and glazing industry continues to add jobs.

According to the BLS, nonresidential specialty trades contractors, which include glaziers, increased employment by 4.5% from June 2018 to June 2019. Hourly earnings in construction are also up by 3.2%.

*Nick St. Denis is the director of research at Key Media & Research (KMR), parent company of USGlass magazine.

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