Glass and Glazing Activity Edges Down to Start Third Quarter

The second half of 2019 began with a decline in architectural glass and glazing construction activity, according to Key Media & Research (KMR) analysis of recent government data.

Nonresidential building in the U.S. decreased 0.3% from June 2018 to July 2019 was up just 0.1% from a year ago on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. However, when adjusted with KMR’s industry-focused models, the value of nonresidential glass- and glazing-related work dipped 0.4% for the month and was down 2.3% year-over-year.

When factoring in multifamily construction, glass and glazing activity was down 0.3% for the month and 4.3% for the year.

Commercial Glazing Activity

Contract glaziers saw a decline in activity on the commercial side of nonresidential construction, with the value of ongoing work declining 1.2% from June to July and dipping 3.8% from July 2018 to the same month this year.

Office was the only key commercial segment to see both month-over-month (0.1%) and year-over-year (6%) increases. Lodging recorded a 2.2% decline from the previous month but was still up 7.3% from a year ago. The other major glass-relevant “commercial” subsector, which includes retail, witnessed a 3% dip from June to July and a significant 16% decline in July 2019 compared to July 2018.

Institutional Glazing Activity

Institutional building has been the more stable segment of the two in nonresidential construction. Glazing contractors saw an uptick of 0.6% in this type of work in July compared to June, despite a 0.5% decline from the same time a year ago.

The largest subsector in this category, educational building, increased 1.1% for the month but dipped 4.6% for the year. Healthcare, the second most relevant institutional segment to the glass and glazing industry, also jumped 1.1% but declined 4.6% from July 2018.

Industry Employment

Employment in the industry continues to increase despite a slowdown in construction spending. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors, which include glaziers and ironworkers, saw a 4% bump in construction in August from a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average hourly earnings in construction are up 2.7% from the same time last year.

Nick St. Denis is the director of research for Key Media & Research, parent company of USGlass magazine.

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