Construction Fuel Consumption Down Slightly in September

SOUTH PORTLAND, ME (October 19, 2011) – The Wright Express Construction Fuel Consumption Index, which tracks fuel consumption by U.S. construction companies, declined 0.4% in September 2011 versus the previous month. Growth in the seasonally adjusted index has been relatively flat throughout 2011. Despite experiencing a month-to-month decline, the index increased 2.7% on an annual basis in September. The index has had positive year-over-year growth throughout 2011. 

"The analysis of the September 2011 data, although reporting a slight decline in fuel consumption from last month, continues to indicate a positive, gradual growth for the construction industry," said Michael Dubyak, Wright Express CEO. "The report also helps to substantiate recent construction industry employment gains, with a jump in September similar to a level not seen since February, and reflects a slow, but continuous recovery in activity."

In August, total construction put in place grew 1.4% month-over-month, closely tracking the 1.1% growth in the Wright Express Construction Fuel Consumption Index last month. Construction growth was led by a 3.1% increase in public construction, the segment’s largest percentage increase since February 2009. Construction employment picked up 26,000 jobs in September. Prior to September’s result job gains had been modest since February, when the construction industry added 39,000 employees. Since January, the construction industry has gained 73,000 jobs.

The September result of the Wright Express Construction Fuel Consumption Index indicates that the construction industry is only making small steps on the road to recovery. For example, the value of construction put in place is up 1% from a year ago, but it remains 34% below its pre-recession peak Though September’s loss in the FCI was minimal, it is a sign that growth in the construction industry is not yet ready to take off.

There have been some positive signs in the construction industry, but the housing sector remains a major concern due to pending home foreclosures and weak demand. With sluggish economic growth on the horizon, home construction is not expected to pick up much until the latter portion of 2012, and sustained improvement is not likely to be evident prior to 2013.

Wright Express worked with IHS Global Insight to develop the Wright Express Construction Fuel Consumption Index. The index is based on monthly fuel consumption statistics for the construction industry tracked by Wright Express's comprehensive fuel consumption database. The Wright Express Construction FCI provides unique fuel transaction information that can be used to identify emerging trends in the construction industry. By tracking the volume of fuel consumed by construction companies in the United States, the index provides an accurate and up-to-date indication of construction activity in the country. In fact, the Wright Express Construction FCI is available a full month before the Bureau of the Census data is released.

Wright Express provides payment processing and information management services to the U.S. commercial and government vehicle fleet industry. They provide fleets with detailed transaction data, analysis tools and purchase control capabilities by capturing transaction data at more than 180,000 fuel and vehicle maintenance locations, including over 90% of the nation’s retail fuel locations and 45,000 vehicle maintenance locations.