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Page 80 of 123 ROCK products • August 2018 • 79 Aggregates Industry Almanac Economic Update existing home inventory should spur more single-family production in the months ahead," said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "However, the softening of single-family permits is consistent with our reports showing that builders are concerned over mounting construction costs, including the highly elevated prices of softwood lumber." The May reading of 1.35 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts rose 3.9 percent to 936,000 – the second highest reading since the Great Recession. Meanwhile, the multifamily sector – which includes apartment buildings and condos – rose 7.5 percent to 414,000 units. Year-to-date, single-family and multifamily production are respectively 9.8 percent and 13.6 percent higher than their levels over the same period last year. The year-to-date metric can help compare performance data over a specific time period and show growth trends. "We should see builders continue to increase production to meet growing consumer demand even as they grapple with stubborn supply-side constraints, particularly rising lumber costs," said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. Regionally, the Midwest led the nation with a 62.2 percent increase in combined single- and multifamily housing starts. Starts fell 0.9 percent in the South, 4.1 percent in the West and 15 percent in the Northeast. Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 42.1 percent in the Northeast and 7.2 percent in the Midwest. They fell 4.6 percent in the West and 13.9 percent in the South. It takes 400 tons of aggregates to construct the average modern home, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. Nonresidential Holding Firm The Dodge Momentum Index grew 0.8 percent in June to 165.5 (2000=100) from the revised May reading of 164.2. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in plan- ning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. In June, the commercial component of the Momentum Index moved 1.1 percent higher, while the institutional component eked out a 0.3 percent gain. June's advance marks the fifth straight monthly increase for the Momentum Index, which is now nearing a 10-year high, and suggests that the moderate strengthening of construc- tion activity currently underway will continue through the end of 2018. At the same time, the gains for the Momentum Index during the most recent two months have been considerably smaller than what took place from last October through April, return- ing to a pace more consistent with the gradual expansion that's been present since the recovery began back in 2011. In June, 13 projects each with a value of $100 million or more entered planning. The two leading commercial projects were a $300 million hotel in Orlando and a $225 million warehouse in Rialto, Calif. The leading institutional projects were the $349 million outpatient medical facility in Richmond, Va., and a $200 million hospital in Venice, Fla. Great Lakes Limestone Shipments Vigorous Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 4,052,994 tons in June, an increase of more than 17 percent compared to a year ago, according to the Lake Carriers' Association. This June also represented the first month in which loadings topped 4 million tons since July 2015. •  Loadings from U.S. quarries totaled 3.2 million tons, an increase of 16.2 percent compared to a year ago. • Shipments from Canadian quarries totaled 815,000 tons, an increase of 22 percent. Year-to-date the Lakes limestone trade stands at 9.3 million tons, an increase of 5.9 percent compared to a year ago. Load- ings from Michigan and Ohio quarries total 7.7 million tons, an increase of 8.2 percent. Shipments from Ontario quarries total 1.6 million tons, a decrease of about three boatloads. The Lake Carriers' Association represents 13 American com- panies that operate 45 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation's economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power gener- ation, as well as sand, grain and gypsum. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 100 million tons of cargo per year. Construction Employment Very Active Construction employment increased by 13,000 jobs in June and by 282,000 jobs over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association offi- cials said many construction firms appear to be more willing to hire amid lower tax rates and a more favorable business environment, but caution that trade fights and labor short- ages pose risks to future growth. "The construction industry continues to add workers faster than the economy as a whole, and the industry is paying premium wages to attract and retain those workers," said AGC's Simonson. "The employment gains are occurring in both residential and nonresidential construction. However, the industry is having to rely more and more on workers

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