Rock Products

JAN 2019

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www.rockproducts.com ROCK products • January 2019 • 35 above the $1,043.6 billion for the same period in 2017. In October, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $310.2 billion, 0.8 per- cent (±2.6 percent) above the revised September estimate of $307.8 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $76.9 billion, 2.6 percent (±2.3 per- cent) above the revised September estimate of $75.0 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $94.6 billion, 0.1 percent (±6.9 percent) below the revised September estimate of $94.6 billion. Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $998.7 billion, 0.4 percent (±0.8 percent) below the revised September estimate of $1,003.0 billion. •  Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $539.0 billion in October, 0.5 percent (±1.3 percent) below the revised September estimate of $541.7 billion. • Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $459.7 billion in October, 0.3 percent (±0.8 percent) below the revised September estimate of $461.3 billion. "Although most segments of construction continue to post year-over-year spending gains, investment in vitally needed infrastructure has stalled or shrunk in the past four months," said Ken Simonson, the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. "If infrastructure contrac- tors start losing employees to more-active construction segments, it may be hard to get infrastructure projects done on time once funding resumes." The economist noted that public spending was boosted by large increases in educational spending and other public building segments, while all public infrastructure categories had declined from recent highs. Seasonally adjusted spend- ing on highway and street construction peaked in August and has dropped 2.1 percent in the past two months, he said. Public investment in air, rail and water transportation facili- ties fell 1.2 percent between August and October. Outlays for sewage and waste disposal and water supply systems topped out in June and have decreased 2.2 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, since then. Public spending on conservation and development, such as levees and dams, slumped 14.6 percent from August to October. Association officials said that now is the ideal time to invest in repairing, modernizing and expanding infrastructure. Ste- phen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer, called on federal officials to act quickly to enact legislation that would increase funding and speed the approval process to improve highways and other modes of transportation, enhance water safety and supply, and strengthen critical levees and dams. "Infrastructure is vital to all Americans and is a subject both parties should be able to agree on funding and improving," Sandherr said. "The incoming Congress has an opportunity to create a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will benefit all regions and all parts of the economy." Construction Starts New construction starts in October climbed 21 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $864.0 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The substantial increase followed three straight months of decline, during which the pace of total construction starts fell 22 percent from the exception- ally strong volume reported back in June. Highway and bridge construction starts climbed 26 percent Nonresidential building in October 2018 surged 53 per- cent, as several very large projects lifted the manufacturing plant, office building, and transportation terminal categories. Nonbuilding construction in October advanced 14 percent, supported by growth for public works while the electric util- ity/gas plant category bounced back from depressed activity in September. Residential building in October 2018 edged up a slight 2 per- cent, helped by improvement for multifamily housing. During the first ten months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $679.1 billion, up 1 percent from the same period a year ago. The year-to-date gain for total con- struction starts was restrained by a 45 percent slide for the electric utility/gas plant category. If the electric utility/gas plant category is excluded, total construction starts during the first 10 months of 2018 would be up 3 percent relative to the same period a year ago.

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