Construction News Tracker is presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
2020 looks good for construction
Continued momentum for construction in 2020 amidst an overall wait and see based on economic uncertainties — that's how ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu scopes out the near forecast for the new year. Although the backlog indicator climbed to 9 months in August, construction spending and employment have softened; continued spending in private nonresidential categories has decreased
The overall picture for public spending remains bright. Infrastructure outlays remain strong despite a total lack of a government plan with state and local governments coming to the rescue with continued building projects. Key construction segments such as water and sewer, transportation, and highway and streets continue strong nationwide. Basu points out that these elements have pushed the infrastructure segment higher than the commercial, institutional and heavy industrial segments.
The Marcum Commercial Construction Index presented annually shows a healthy industry heading into 2020. On the positive side, it points to increased public construction spending, growing backlogs and continued economic expansion sustaining industry momentum. In the sour outlook category, Marcum points to the continued lack of qualified workers, which is driving labor costs and producer prices higher.
U.S. hiring in November jumped to its highest level since January 2019 as employers added 266,000 new jobs. The Labor Departmnet reports that the umeployment rate has now dropped to 3.5%, its lowest rate in 50 years. November's healthy job gains runs against the grain that employers are delaying hiring until the U.S./China trade war is settled. The hiring pace shows the resilience of the job market into the economic expansion, now the longest on record.
Construction spending declines
The U.S. Commerce Department is reporting that declines in apartment and multifamily building caused spending to drop eight-tenths of a percent in October. The data also shows private construction spending was off 1%.. Overall private residential construction was off nine-tenths of a percent and multifamily was down 1.6% in October. Single family construction rose some 1.6%.
Indicators show lower mortgage rates and a healthy job market are boosting home sales as well as the demand for new homes. The first 10 months of 2019 shows overall construction at an annual rate of $1.09 trillion, down 1.7% from 2018.
Doosan Concept X
Doosan has unveiled its 2020 technology outlook with a major presentation at its Korean proving grounds. It's called Concept X and is designed as a comprehensive control solution for construction site productivity and safety. Our Technical Editor Curt Bennick had the opportunity to attend the event and provides this summary:
Cat rebuild celebrates 35
Its hard to believe but 2020 will mark 35 years that Caterpillar has produced its certified rebuild program. Developed in 1985 at the height of tough economic conditions it has now certified over 25,000 machine power train commercial engine, hydraulic and component rebuilds. Owners of Cat products have the opportunity of rebuuilding their machines for a fraction of the cost of new equipment. Current rebuilds also offer machine owners the means to upgrade technology such as grade, slope and payload production solutions that can give machines capabilities they didn’t have when new.
Beet juice to treat icy roads
It's winter in many parts of the nation, and that means road crews are out clearing streets and highways of snow and ice while also treating them. States and municipalities have concocted numerous types of additives to apply to slippery roadways over the years, but none like Michigan has in mind if it can get the DOT to agree.
Lawmakers have a proposal before the Michigan DOTto conduct a pilot study on the use of beet juice as an ice reducing treatment. Yep, beet juice, as in sugar beets — which supporters claim can be mixed with traditional road salt to create a sticky substance that adheres longer to icy roads. And that's not even considering the sweeter smell of the additive.
In closing, the moon could not go on shining if it paid any attention to the little dogs that bark at it.
This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place, presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
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