Commercial Glass Construction Slows in September

Contract glazier activity was up for the month but down for the year in September, according to Key Media & Research (KMR) analysis of recent government data.

Nonresidential building in the U.S. increased 0.5% from August 2019 to September 2019 but decreased 0.9% from a year ago on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. When adjusted with KMR’s industry-focused models, the value of nonresidential glass- and glazing-related work was also up 0.5% for the month and down 0.4% year-over-year.

When factoring in multifamily construction, glass and glazing activity edged up 0.5% for the month but declined 2.3% 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 0.2% from August to September and dipping 1.3% from September 2018 to the same month this year.

Office was the only key commercial segment to see both month-over-month (0.3%) and year-over-year (2.7%) increases. Lodging recorded a 1.2% decline from the previous month but was still up 0.8% from a year ago. The other major glass-relevant “commercial” subsector, which includes retail, witnessed a 0.6% dip from August to September and a sharp 18.6% decline in September 2019 compared to September 2018.

Institutional Glazing Activity

Institutional building remains relatively stable. Glazing contractors saw an uptick of 1.3% in this type of work in September compared to August and a 0.7% bump from the same time a year ago.

The largest subsector in this category, educational building, increased 2.8% for the month but dipped 3% for the year. Healthcare, the second most relevant institutional segment to the glass and glazing industry, saw monthly and yearly increases of 0.7% and 2.7%, respectively.

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 3.3% bump in employment in October from a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average hourly earnings in construction are up 2.4% 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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