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January 2016 Economic News

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The Architecture Billings Index for November dropped below its benchmark level of 50, which reflects a decrease in architecture services, down to 49.3, from its October mark of 53.1. However, this was only the fourth time in 19 months that it dipped into what is considered negative territory.

A decline of more than 10 percent in commercial projects caused the Dodge Data and Analytics' Momentum Index to fall 3.7 percent in November; from 124.5 to 119.9. The DMI gauges initial reports of nonresidential projects in planning.

Construction industry employment grew significantly in November, mainly because of a healthy gain in the residential specialty contractor field. Homebuilders and remodelers added 32,100 jobs for the month.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; National Association of Home Builders

National Numbers
Groundwork - (October-to-November)
Architecture Billing Index (ABI): 49.3,
down from 53.1 in October
New projects inquiry index: 58.6,
up from 58.5 in October
Source: American Institute of Architects

Construction - Permits
Single-family: +1.1%
Multi-family: +30.8%
Combined total: +11.0%

Single-family: +9.0%
Multi-family: +38.9%
Combined total: +19.5%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Regional Report
A recent study by the Associated Builders and Contractors evaluated how business friendly each state is to the construction industry. The Merit Shop Scorecard graded states for their prevailing wage and right-to-work policies, construction job growth rate, use of public-private partnerships and other criteria. Arizona scored the highest, followed by Louisiana, Virginia, North Dakota and North Carolina. At the low end, in order, were Minnesota, D.C., Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Alaska, with New Mexico placing last.

New Orleans-area contractors recently voiced their concerns about a new law that impels them to agree to a minimum percentage of local hires on city jobs worth more than $150,000. That minimum starts at 30 percent this year and rises to 50 percent by 2020. The local Office of Workforce Development assured them that the law was made to be flexible to accommodate suggestions.

The construction industry is expected to add 790,400 jobs from 2014-2024. That amount would be fourth best among major industries, and would rank second in percentage gains with an annual growth rate of 1.2 percent.

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