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Positive Signals for the Future


Shortly after I completed my August issue editorial, the Senate passed its version of the highway bill. As we wait for the House to finalize its version of the bill, then contemplate the mysteries of the universe while they try to reconcile the two bills, here are a few interesting construction-economy items.

 
  • An estimated 607 million metric tons of total construction aggregates was produced and shipped for consumption in the United States in the second quarter of 2015, an increase of 3 percent compared with that of the second quarter of 2014, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Construction employment in July climbed to the highest level since February 2009, while the number of unemployed workers with construction experience shrank to a 14-year low, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that the diminishing pool of available qualified labor may be having an impact on the industry’s ability to meet growing demand.
  • Led by a strong jump in single-family production, nationwide housing starts inched up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.206 million units in July, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. This is the highest level since October 2007.

Both Vulcan Materials and Martin Marietta Materials released encouraging second-quarter reports, but what is most telling is the conditions they anticipate in the second half of the year.

Regarding the company’s outlook for 2015, Vulcan President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hill, stated, “We expect a higher rate of pricing growth in the second half. With respect to second half shipments, a key factor will be the ability of our customers to recover weather-delayed volume from the first half.”

Ward Nye, chairman, president and CEO of Martin Marietta, said, “As we look at the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, contractor backlogs and other macro-economic indicators underscore the pent-up demand for our products. Job growth on a national level continues to be a strong catalyst for construction activity.”

These are all positive and encouraging signals.