Tag: construction spending

Monday Economic Report – February 9, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Manufacturers in the United States have added roughly 18,800 workers per month on average over the past 13 months, with an average of 29,000 from October through January. This suggests that the momentum in demand and production in the second half of 2014 has led to an uptick in hiring, which is encouraging. Income growth was also higher, with average weekly earnings up 2.0 percent year-over-year in January. At the same time, the larger economy has also seen strong growth, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by nearly 260,000 per month since the end of 2013. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.7 percent, however, as more Americans re-entered the labor force looking for work. The participation rate rose from 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Construction Spending Rose in December, Was Up Strongly in 2014

The Census Bureau said that manufacturing construction increased 1.9 percent in December, rising to an annualized $60.39 billion. This was the highest level since May 2009. Manufacturers spending on construction projects were up sharply from the $51.04 pace observed in December 2013, representing a year-over-year increase of 18.3 percent. As such, this data suggests that manufacturing leaders have enough confidence in their outlook to warrant additional construction investment, which is encouraging. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – January 5, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Growth in manufacturing activity slowed somewhat in December, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The headline purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped from 58.7 in November to 55.5 in December, its lowest level in six months. Slower global growth, reduced commodity prices and the West Coast ports slowdown were cited in the ISM report as reasons for the decline. While this report was disappointing, it is notable that the lower figure followed several months of very healthy expansions in both new orders and production, and manufacturers were more upbeat at year’s end than earlier in the year. The manufacturing PMI data averaged 57.7 in the second half of 2014, an improvement from the 54.0 average observed in the first half. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – December 8, 2014

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

This morning, we will release the results from the latest NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers. Business leaders continue to reflect optimism about the coming months, with 91.2 percent of survey respondents saying they are either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook. Moreover, manufacturers predict growth of 4.5 percent in sales and 2.1 percent in employment  over the next 12 months, with both experiencing the strongest pace in at least two years. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Construction Rebounded in November

The Census Bureau said that manufacturing construction increased 3.4 percent in October, rebounding from the 0.9 percent decline observed in September. Manufacturers devoted an annualized $57.42 billion to construction projects in October, up from $55.55 billion in September. More importantly, it was up from $46.67 billion in October 2013, with a year-over-year gain of 23.0 percent. This upward trend bodes well for the manufacturing sector, suggesting that business leaders have enough confidence in their outlook to warrant additional construction investment. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – November 10, 2014

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

yoy manufacturing sector employment - nov2014Last week, we received a number of encouraging reports on the state of the manufacturing sector and the U.S. economy. The Institute for Supply Management reported that its manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rebounded, up from 56.6 in September to 59.0 in October. This brought the index back up to where it was in August, with both readings at their highest levels since March 2011. This suggests that the manufacturing sector was making healthy gains as we began the fourth quarter, and as further evidence, demand and production were both higher in October. In fact, the new orders and output indices have now been 60 or greater for six straight months. Hiring also picked up. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Construction Eased in September, But Longer-Term Trend Remained Positive

The Census Bureau said that manufacturing construction spending declined 1.1 percent in September. Manufacturers devoted an annualized $54.26 billion to construction projects in September, down from $54.87 billion in August. Yet, the sector has continued to edge their construction spending higher since bottoming out at $46.84 billion in March, an increase of 15.8 percent. Therefore, despite the slight decrease in September, manufacturers have stepped up their investments in new structures, which is consistent with the recent pickup in demand and output. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – October 6, 2014

Here are the files for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Several recent indicators have shown marked improvements in the U.S. economy and for manufacturing activity, particularly when compared to earlier in the year. These range from the NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers to increased levels of demand and output. Last week, for instance, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that the pace of production (up from 64.5 to 64.6) was marginally higher in September, with the index exceeding 60—indicating strong growth—for four consecutive months. Likewise, the new orders index has measured 60 or higher for three straight months, even though it eased somewhat in September (down from 66.7 to 60.0). That was an encouraging sign, and it was consistent with a relatively upbeat outlook as noted by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).

Yet, the headline ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing unexpectedly dropped from 59.0 to 56.6. The prior month’s reading had been a three-year high, making the deceleration in sentiment a bit of a disappointment. The drop stemmed from slower paces of growth for domestic sales, exports (down from 55.0 to 53.5) and employment (down from 58.1 to 54.6). Along those lines, manufacturers added just 4,000 net new workers in September, with August’s employment number revised lower to reflect a decline of 4,000 employees for the sector. As such, we have had two straight months of disappointing manufacturing jobs numbers, which stand in stark contrast to the stronger hiring rates seen prior to August. We can hope for healthier job gains in the coming months, which would be more consistent with the mostly optimistic tone seen in other measures.

Indeed, the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank’s manufacturing survey noted robust pickups in production, capacity utilization and shipments in September, and respondents continue to expect stronger activity levels over the next six months. In addition, factory shipments have risen 2.1 percent year-to-date through August, or 3.1 percent over the past 12 months. The corresponding data on new factory orders reflected a sharp decline in August, but that was the result of very strong nondefense aircraft sales in July. While new manufactured goods sales remained soft when excluding transportation orders, the underlying data also reflect gains made since the winter months. Moreover, manufacturers have been confident enough in their outlook to increase construction spending, which rose 1.5 percent in August, increasing for the fifth straight month. Year-over-year growth in manufacturing construction spending was an impressive 14.9 percent.

At the consumer level, personal spending rebounded in August after holding steading in July. Since winter-related declines in January, personal spending has risen 2.7 percent, with 4.1 percent growth year-over-year. Strength in durable goods purchases boosted the August consumption figure. Still, Americans remain anxious, particularly about labor and income growth. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index declined from 93.4 in August to 86.0 in September, a notable and sizable decrease especially after the index had been at its highest point since October 2007 in August. It is possible that geopolitical events have put the public on edge, dampening enthusiasm. (The same could probably be said of the ISM report discussed above.) We have similar concerns in comparable data from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters, and the two releases support the notion that the consumer remains cautious despite recent improvements in sentiment.

Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed from $40.32 billion in July to $40.11 billion in August, its lowest level since January. In general, we have seen the trade deficit decline after peaking at $45.98 billion in April. Since then, goods exports have increased by $3.79 billion, and goods imports have declined by $1.99 billion, helping to explain the bulk of the shift over that four-month period. Much of that improvement can be explained by increased energy exports and reduced energy imports.

After a busy economic data release calendar last week, this week will be much lighter. The minutes of the September 16–17 Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released on Wednesday, with market watchers looking for clues for when the Federal Reserve will start raising short-term rates. Other highlights include the latest data on consumer credit, job openings and wholesale trade.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. 

manufacturing construction - oct2014

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Monday Economic Report – September 8, 2014

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

The U.S. economy added 142,000 nonfarm payroll workers in August, a disappointing figure given signs of a rebound in many other indicators lately. The consensus expectation had been for nonfarm payroll growth to exceed 200,000 jobs for the seventh consecutive month, as was observed in the estimates provided by ADP the day before. Manufacturing employment was flat for the month, which was also a disappointment. It ended a 12-month streak of job gains for the sector, a period in which manufacturers added 168,000 net new workers. Hopefully, the August jobs report was just a brief pause in what otherwise had been positive news on the labor front.

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data provides much encouragement that manufacturing activity is moving in the right direction heading into the autumn months. The headline PMI figure rose from 57.1 in July to 59.0 in August, its highest level since March 2011, and it reflected a robust recovery from weaknesses earlier in the year. Indeed, new orders and production expanded at healthy paces. These findings mirror the latest NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers, which is being released this morning, showing respondents mostly upbeat about their own company’s outlook, with sales, capital spending and hiring expectations at two-year highs. Indeed, 87.3 percent of those taking the survey were either somewhat or very positive in their outlook, up from 85.9 percent three months ago. The data are largely consistent with 3.1 percent growth in manufacturing production over the next two quarters.

Manufacturers spent 4.4 percent more on construction projects in July, also providing some reassuring news. The sector has devoted 23.9 percent more to construction projects over the past 12 months, an indication that the increase in demand and output observed over that time frame has resulted in a jump in new investments. Meanwhile, new factory orders data provided mixed news. While orders increased by a whopping 10.5 percent in July, much of that stemmed from highly volatile nondefense aircraft sales. Excluding transportation orders, new factory orders declined 0.8 percent for the month, a finding that we had noted in the earlier release of preliminary durable goods data. Still, factory orders excluding transportation have risen 2.7 percent over the past six months (since weather-related declines in January), which mostly mirrors the more positive data in other releases.

Looking at exports, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed ever-so-slightly in July, with an increase in goods exports marginally offsetting an increase in goods imports. Yet, manufactured goods exports have risen only slightly year-to-date, up just 0.8 percent so far in 2014 using non-seasonally adjusted data. On the other hand, these same figures show that exports to our top five exports markets were higher through the first seven months of this year relative to last year. Regardless, manufacturers hope that the pace of export growth accelerates, with sluggish sales frustrating business leaders and net export growth providing a drag on real GDP over the past two quarters.

This week, we will get new data on consumer confidence, job openings, retail sales and small business optimism. Markets will also continue to digest Friday’s employment numbers, trying to decipher if they were an aberration or a sign of larger weaknesses. In particular, this discussion centers on how the Federal Reserve will interpret such things, with a debate already ongoing as to when the Federal Open Market Committee will begin to increase short-term interest rates. Conventional wisdom holds that short-term interest rates will rise sometime in 2015, but whether that occurs earlier or later in the year is up for debate between those who are more hawkish or dovish on inflation. In the Beige Book, which was released last Wednesday, the Fed mostly observed progress in the economy in recent months, including in manufacturing. Yet, as long as the Fed continues to see “slack” in the labor market, it might be less willing to normalize rates.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. 
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Manufacturing Construction Declined Slightly in April

The Census Bureau reported that manufacturing construction declined 1.1 percent at the annual rate, down from $50.66 billion in March to $50.10 billion in April. The longer-term trend has been mixed. In the early months of 2014, total private construction activity in the sector has been stagnant, down from $51.07 billion in December. Still, manufacturers have put significantly more construction dollars in place today than 12 months ago, up from $46.68 billion in April 2013. As such, manufacturing construction has risen 7.3 percent year-over-year.

Total construction spending increased 0.2 percent in April, extending the 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent gains seen in February and March, respectively. The increase mostly stemmed from higher public sector construction spending (up 0.8 percent). The largest public sector construction gains were for commercial (up 14.7 percent), sewage and waste disposal (up 4.7 percent), transportation (up 3.6 percent), and conservation and development (up 2.6 percent) projects.

Yet, private sector spending data were weak, unchanged from March. A slight increase in residential spending (up 0.1 percent) was offset by nonresidential activity (down 0.1 percent). Nonetheless, private construction has risen a healthy 11.7 percent year-over-year, lifted by a 17.2 percent jump in housing spending. Moreover, private, nonresidential construction has grown 5.6 percent over the past year, which has also been a decent figure.

In terms of private, nonresidential construction spending for April, the declines were primarily in the communications (down 11.7 percent), manufacturing (down 1.1 percent), and power (down 0.6 percent) sectors. Other major segments were higher for the month, with the biggest increases seen in amusement and recreation (up 9.8 percent), office (up 3.1 percent), transportation (up 2.8 percent), religious (up 1.9 percent), and lodging (up 1.8 percent). Since April 2013, the fastest growth in nonresidential spending has occurred in the office (up 25.6 percent), communication (up 21.4 percent), and lodging (up 17.2 percent) sectors.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. 

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