[NEWS TRACKER VIDEO] Construction Spending Data Mixed to End 2019

Nonresidential construction spending was down in December but residential construction spending ended the year up more than 5%; plus more construction industry news on the February 27, 2020, edition of Construction News Tracker.

Construction spending numbers mixed at year end

ABC has analyzed Census Bureau data and determined that nonresidential construction spending dropped 1.2% in December but finished 2019 with a 4.4% overall increase. Private nonresidential spending fell 1.8% in December while public nonresidential spending dropped 4/10 of a percent for the same month.

The total value of all U.S. construction put in place (PIP) in 2019 amounted to $1.3 trillion, down 0.3%. However, public nonresidential spending gained a nice 11.2%. The latest 10 year average in construction PIP has been 4%.

The year over year change in residential construction ended 2019 at 5.8%. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reports new home construction dropped slightly in January by 3.6% to 1.57 million starts, down from December's high of 1.63 million. January building permit applications, however, were up 9.2%. 

ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu explains that private construction spending volumes in recent years has fallen off while public construction dollars have been consistently supported as tax collections have fueled that sector of the economy.

Trump supports infrastructure spending

President Trump used part of his State of the Union address to voice support for a Senate committee effort to spend money on the nation's infrastructure. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted last July to support legislation that would set aside $287 billion over a five-year span on highways, but it’s a far cry from completion as other congressional committees such as transit, highway safety and revenue have yet to weigh in.

Meanwhile in the House, the Tax Writing Ways and Means committee has endorsed a move to enhance multimodal connectivity through improved freight corridors and commercial distribution centers. The bi-partisan committee support centers on a $760 billion infrastructure plan over five years, but as yet is unfunded. The House Transportation Committee is said to be working on a bill to update the 2015 FAST Act, which expires in September.

Deteriorating roadways are costing drivers

TRIP, the national transportation research agency, is reporting some interesting data indicating the amount of wear and tear on our nation's roadways from road and bridge deterioration. That along with the congestion and lack of some safety features in Virginia, for example, is costing motorists upwards of $9.5 billion annually.

TRIP claims Virginia drivers are shelling out $2,283 per year in higher operating costs, traffic crashes and costly delays due to lack of adequate roadways. In New Mexico, for example, the TRIP research indicates motorists there are losing some $2.6 billion annually. Complete interesting data is available for all states from the transportation research agency.

Border wall battle continues

For the first time ever the federal government is waiving procurement regulations to build the border wall. The Department of Homeland Security announced the 10 waived laws include requirements for open bidding, justifying selections and receiving all bonding from contractors before they begin work on 94 miles of wall along the Mexican border in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

The Army Corps has already vetted a dozen contractors for the wall construction effort.

Dallas building survives dynamite demolition

Its being called the leaning tower of Dallas. After crews worked to demolish an 11 story building north of downtown Dallas recently they were left with a leaning core. Officials with Lloyd Nebors Demolition Company say they used 300 pounds of dynamite to topple it; but the inside core of steel and concrete was too strong, and the leaning tower resulted. Now they're going to use the old tried and true method a crane and steel ball to demolish it entirely.

Thyssen Krupp building NA Headquarters near Atlanta

A three building complex under construction next to I-285 in suburban Atlanta is unique in certain ways. One of the area's tallest buildings is expected to top out soon as the owner Thyssen Krupp Elevator Company builds its North American headquarters. And that's where the uniqueness comes in.

The complex will house the company's innovation and qualification center and when completed will be the tallest elevator test tower in the western hemisphere. The 400-foot building going up at the rate of 7 feet per day is being done by slip form construction involving the continuous pouring of concrete into a moving form from the bottom up, using some 350 construction workers in the process.

Thyssen Krupp is spending $200 million on the new development adjacent to the Atlanta Braves stadium at the Battery.

CONEXPO workforce solutions

It's always been a big exposition, but this year's CONEXPO convention show is expected to top them all. Some 2,600 exhibitors are anticipated for the Las Vegas Convention Center CONEXPO March 10-14 spread over 2.6 million square feet of space for exhibits and technical seminars.

A workforce solutions venture will be a highlight of this year's show. AEM has teamed up with industry associations, educational institutions and heavy equipment manufacturers to showcase the many trade skills available to students and will bring many local candidates to CONEXPO for a tour.

Show managers expect some 130,000 to attend CONEXPO this year.

In closing, the secret of achievement is not to let what you're doing get to you before you get to 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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