[VIDEO] Silver Lining in September’s Surprise 9% Housing-starts Drop

Monthly construction figures show single family starts remain strong despite a plummet in multifamily housing starts; plus more construction industry news on the October 27, 2016, edition of Construction News Tracker

Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com

A bombshell announcement out of Peoria, IL, in the past few days that Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman will retire at the end of the year. The company also announced Oberhelman's replacement in the CEO position as Jim Umpleby while Dave Calhoun will become board chair when Oberhelman leaves that post in late March. Going forward, Cat will separate the CEO and board chair positions.

Caterpillar has seen major economic setbacks in recent years mainly from the downturn in the mining equipment sector brought on by a major drop in global prices for mined commodities in China and other foreign entities.

Doug Oberhelman, who led the company through record revenues and profits, has been with Caterpillar over 40 years.

A significant drop in U.S. housing starts of 9% in September is a far cry from what economists had expected after the August fall out. Monthly construction figures from U.S. Census Bureau and HUD showed single family starts remain strong, up 8.1% in September, while multifamily housing starts plummeted 38%, but housing permits rose 6.3% for the month on strength in multifamily applications.

That, combined with solid growth year to date in single family starts, bodes well for a sound finish to 2016 for residential construction.

Associated Builders and Contractors doesn't like what it sees in the rise of materials prices. They are up three-tenths of a percent between August and September as last month marked the first since November of 2014 that nonresidential construction input prices rose year over year. Only four of 11 input prices dropped:

  • Prepared asphalt
  • Roofing tar and siding products
  • Iron and steel
  • Softwood lumber

Chief ABC Economist Anirban Basu attributes the price hikes to wage inflation and stabilized energy costs.

Hurricane Matthew has left a trail of destruction primarily across North Carolina as the hardest hit of the U.S. states affected by the storm earlier this month. Upwards of $1.5 billion in reconstruction will be needed. A large swath of the state has been hit by flooding from over taxed rives and coastal ruin while nearly 100 miles or roadway have been washed out, including a portion of heavily traveled Interstate 95 in the southeaster sector. The flooding has created major traffic problems as motorists are having to drive miles of detour routes to reach destinations.

A large coalition of transportation groups has written the presidential candidates' organizations encouraging them to include long-term sustainable funding measures into their infrastructure plans. Thirty-four business, labor, transportation and travel organizations sent a letter October 5 to the presidential campaign groups outlining what the nation needs in the way of infrastructure investment and support including AGC, AARTBA, AASHTO and trade unions. Neither candidate has offered details on what, if any, attention they will give to the matter.

The Nevada legislature last week approved a $750 million fund to help build a Las Vegas stadium. It will essentially be paid for by an increased tourist hotel tax, and if all goes as planned, eventually the Oakland Raiders will move to the desert to play in the new 65,000 seat domed stadium to be shared with the University of Nevada Las Vegas by 2020.

It fought clear to the end. After standing 93 years over the Arkansas River at Little Rock the Broadway Bridge finally gave in to the demo blasts, but not before the second try. When the dust and smoke finally cleared last week only five of the six supports had been leveled. Apparently a hole was drilled too deeply into concrete preventing the last detonation from occurring, and only the arch bottom was history.

It was the second effort to cause headaches to contractor Massman Construction of Kansas City as the old Broadway was really built to last when crews needed towboats and a crane to finally bring down the superstructure.

Finally, how is it the most natural things in the world are the most difficult to come by — acts of nature that we humans take for granted at times that our minds do not allow us to act naturally but turn peace into war, love into suffering, pleasure into pain and the natural into the forgotten.

This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place. Presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com. 

Follow us on social media at Twitter using #constructionnews and both YouTube and Facebook as the streaming Web never ends.