As we kick off 2013, we pause to take a look at where we currently are as an industry, and where we might potentially go. Our Outlook/Forecast feature starting on page 16 gives you the entire scoop.
Where We Are
The third quarter of 2012 went poorly for aggregates producers, however the nine-month totals for production actually showed a year-over-year increase. According to the latest report just released by the U.S. Geological Survey, an estimated 580 metric tons (Mt) of total construction aggregates was produced and shipped for consumption in the United States in the third quarter of 2012, a decrease of 5 percent compared with that of the same period of 2011. However, the estimated production for consumption in the first nine months of 2012 was 1.48 billion metric tons (Gt), a slight increase compared with that of the same period of 2011.
The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced that construction spending for the latest month and year-to-date was up. The one big down spot was highways, which year-over-year, was down.
New construction starts during the first 11 months of 2012 on an unadjusted basis were reported at $424.4 billion, up 3 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Again, one of the down areas was in the highway construction sector, which was down 9 percent.
Where We Are Going
The U.S. transportation construction infrastructure market is expected to show modest growth in 2013, increasing three percent from $126.5 billion to $130.3 billion, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) annual forecast. Growth is expected in highway and street pavements, private work for driveways and parking lots, airport terminal and runway work, railroads, and port and waterway construction. ARTBA predicts the bridge market, which has shown substantial growth over the last 10 years, to remain flat this year.
In a 2013 construction forecast released Dec. 4, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu predicted nonresidential construction spending to expand 5.2 percent this year, with much of the expansion coming from privately financed projects.
Upward trends in recent months among a number of housing indicators point to a slow and steady growth in the nation’s housing market in 2013. Meanwhile, the number of improving housing markets across the nation continues to show considerable advancement.
Mark S. Kuhar, editor
Member: Construction Writers Association