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September 2014 Economic News
Three leading industry economists provided insights on the status of residential and non-residential building, construction labor and the housing market in a seminar sponsored by the Associated Builders and Contractors last month.

Kermit Baker, Chief Economist, American Institute of Architects -
"The fundamentals in the non-residential building market are getting better ... the architecture billings index has been generally positive for the last 18 months, which suggests we're in the early phase of a non-residential construction recovery. The second quarter average is showing strong gains and solid momentum moving into the latter part of the year."

Anirban Basu, Chief Economist, Associated Builders and Contractors -
"We think that this year, in real terms, the gain in construction spending will be between five and six percent, maybe a bit more than that. Though I must say, a lot of that has to happen in the last six months of the year, because the first half was not that fabulous." "Construction is now adding jobs faster than the balance of the economy. Over the past year, the overall economy has added roughly 1.8 or 1.9 percent to total jobs; construction has added 3.2 percent. Residential building [employment] is up 8.3 percent year-over-year, and non-residential building is up 3.3 percent."

David Crowe, Chief Economist, National Association of Homebuilders -
"The thing that is striking is that we have a high percentage of reports [showing] a low supply of lots, and yet we're nowhere near that kind of elevation in total production. That same comparison applies to the labor supply. As we've seen production return, the labor supply issue has become much more stressful - in fact, upwards of two-thirds of builders are reporting a shortage. In this case, the problem now is simply that those workers left the industry for other jobs, and we haven't been able to attract them back."

.89 - The NAHB Leading Markets Index, which measures current housing permits, prices and employment data for metropolitan areas against pre-recession 'normal' levels, increased by one point in August to a .89 score and added just seven markets year-over-year.

Top Major Metro: Baton Rouge, La. (1.39)
Top Small Metro: Odessa, Texas (2.22)

7.5% - Construction employers added 22,000 jobs in July, pushing unemployment to 7.5 percent, a seven-year low for July.

Residential Construction Since June:
+13,000 jobs

Non-Residential Construction Since June:
+9,100 jobs

Top 3 State Construction Job Increases (Year-over-Year %):
Nevada (+13.4%), Delaware (+13.3%), Florida (+11.1%)

Top 3 State Construction Job Decreases (Year-over-Year %):
New Jersey (-6.5%), West Virginia (-5.8%), Mississippi (-5.6%)

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