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Economic News

  • Thu, August 27, 2020 3:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In a bit of good news, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has issued the latest update to real Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to the "second" more accurate estimate released by the Bureau, GDP decreased by 7.925 percent for the quarter, an improvement over the initial estimate released in July. (If the contraction stayed at this pace for 12 months, the annual rate would be 31.7 percent, an unreliable projection never used before the second quarter of 2020). The change was 1.2 percentage points better than the "advance" estimate that set the downturn at 9.125 percent. In the first quarter of 2020, real GDP decreased 5.0 percent. Profits decreased 11.1 percent at a quarterly rate in the second quarter after decreasing 12.0 percent in the first quarter.

  • Fri, August 07, 2020 12:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The post-shutdown rebound continued in July, seeing jobs expand by 1.8 million according the latest Labor Department figures. Construction non-seasonally adjusted levels continued to improve with unemployment decreasing to 8.9 percent [a drop of 1.2 percent points from June, but still up 5.1 percentage points from a year ago in July 2019 when it stood at only 3.8%].  Overall, employment in the construction industry grew by 20,000 positions in July (for a combined rebound of 631,000 jobs for May, June, & July); leaving the industry approximately 445,000 positions short of pre-shutdown levels in February of 2020).

    The overall unemployment figure continued to recede from its record crest in April, slipping to 10.2 percent, down 0.9 percentage points since June.  (“Unemployed persons” also fell 1.5 million to a total of 16.3 million per the government count). The “labor force participation” rate remained basically constant at 61.4 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)].  Conversely, the “employment to population ratio” rose to 55.1 percent.  Average hourly earnings for employees remained at approximately $24.74 due mostly to the fact lower wage earners remain out of work in market segments still in partial shutdowns by government orders. 

    SEE Workforce Statistics Chart

  • Fri, July 10, 2020 1:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CIRT in conjunction with APCO Worldwide have collaborated on an Op-Ed that focuses on the role of the design / construction community for the nation's recovery from the pandemic and shutdown.

    The Op-Ed contends that the design and construction community is a critical industry segment to measure the recovery of the nation. To that end, the opinion piece lays out two essential elements:

    (1) The A/E/C industry is a good barometer of the overall economic activity/prosperity given it serves a broad cross section of markets, including private and public sector; [APCO’s Insight Survey indicates that 95 percent of the U.S. public thought it very or somewhat important “for the U.S. to continue to invest in its infrastructure” emerging from the shutdown]; and

    (2) The A/E/C industry is labor intensive with good paying jobs and career paths, many not requiring four year college degrees. . . decentralized and scattered across the nation in communities of all sizes and backgrounds. [The same APCO Insight Survey found: 90 percent of Americans agreed “apprenticeships & credentialing programs can lead to good paying jobs and career paths.”]

    In addition, the editorial points out that many of the leading industry companies have elevated safety to the highest levels, creating a cultural paradigm shift that enables its managers, employees, and projects to “seamlessly adopt COVID-19 health and safety best practices and protocols.”


    [See the Op-Ed and APCO Insight Survey for details].

  • Fri, July 03, 2020 4:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The record rebound continued in June’s jobs expansion with a historic 4.8 million re-employments according the latest Labor Department figures. Construction non-seasonally adjusted levels saw continued improvement with unemployment sliding down to 10.1 percent [a drop of 2.6 percent points from May, but still up 6.1 percentage points from a year ago in June 2019 when it stood at only 4.0%].  Overall, employment in the construction industry grew by 158,000 positions in June (for a combined rebound of 611,000 jobs, cutting over half the total 1.1 million losses from March and April). The rehires where dispersed throughout the industry, including for example: (+135,000) in specialty fields and (+32,000) in buildings.

    The overall unemployment figure continued to recede from its record crest in April, settling at 11.1 percent, down 2.2 percentage points in a month.  (“Unemployed persons” also fell 3.2 million to a total of 17.8 million per the government count). The “labor force participation” rate continued to climb to 61.5 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)].  The “employment to population ratio” rose to 54.6 percent as well.  Average hourly earnings for employees remains high at $24.74 due mostly to the fact lower wage earners remain out of work in market segments still in partial shutdowns by government orders. 

    See the Workforce Statistics Chart.

  • Mon, June 15, 2020 2:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Over the years economists have developed a series of key indicators that are gauged to predict or indicate coming economic cycles (like downturns, recessions, or expanses, etc.). The key measures are reflected in the FMI indicators, last updated just prior to the late first and early second quarter 2020 shutdowns. [For details see FMI Indicators Chart].

  • Mon, June 08, 2020 9:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rebounding off the dreadful numbers from a month ago, May employment expanded at an unprecedented (and unexpected) historic 2.5 million jobs according the latest Labor Department figures. Construction non-seasonally adjusted levels saw some improvement with unemployment sliding back to 12.7 percent [a drop of 390 basis points from April, but still up 950 basis points from a year ago in May 2019 when it stood at nearly full-employment of only 3.2%].  Employment in the construction industry grew by 464,000 positions in May, approximately cutting in half the recent losses that had mounted to a painful 995.000.

    The overall unemployment figure came down from its record level, registering a still very high 13.3 percent, yet down 140 basis points in a month.  (“Unemployed persons” also fell 2.1 million to a total of 21.0 million per the government count).  The “labor force participation” rate also improved to 60.8 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)].  The “employment to population ratio” rose to 52.8 percent.  Average hourly earnings for employees remains high at $25.00 due mostly to the fact lower wage earners remain out of work in market segments still in full or partial shutdowns by government orders. 

    SEE the CIRT Workforce Statistics Chart

  • Mon, May 11, 2020 3:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The devastating impact of the compulsory economic shutdown has swamped the latest Labor Department job numbers in April, with jobs losses topping 20 million. Construction non-seasonally adjusted figures were also slammed by the downturn with unemployment climbing to 16.6 percent [a jump of 970 basis points above March, and up 1190 basis points from a year ago in April 2019 when it stood at only 4.7%].  This month, employment in the construction industry contracted by a stunning (206,000) positions.

    The overall unemployment figure hit a record level since being tracked by DoL (starting in 1948) at 14.7 percent, up 1030 basis points in a month.  (“Unemployed persons” also spiked 15.9 million to a total of 23.1 million per the government count).  Conversely, the “labor force participation” rate tumbled down 250 basis points to 60.2 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)].  The “employment to population ratio” fell by 870 basis points to 51.3 percent.  Although the average hourly earnings for employees improved -- up by $1.04 per hour, it was a consequence of the increasing unemployment levels among hourly wage earners. 

  • Wed, April 29, 2020 12:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2019, real GDP increased 2.1 percent. The first quarterly turn-down in nearly six years was driven by the near complete shutdown of the economy in an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 (Wuhan virus). The current GDP estimate is based on source data that are incomplete and/or subject to further revision by the source agency. The "second" estimate for the first quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on May 28, 2020.


  • Fri, April 17, 2020 11:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    President Trump announced the Administration’s initiative to gradually revive the U.S. economic and business activities while still fight the COVID-19 (Wuhan virus) pandemic.  With the full White House Coronavirus Task Force involved, the phases of the process for reopening the country, which there are three, were presented, each “related to 14 days of decreasing evidence of illness.” The President noted that: “Based on the latest data, our team of experts now agree that we can begin the next front in our war, which we’re calling, ‘Opening Up America Again.’” He then pointed out “benchmarks must be met at each phase;” noting that: “We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time.”

    SUMMARY of THREE PHASE PLAN
    :
    Phase One is designed to “mitigate the risk of resurgence” and would allow public venues, such as arenas, theaters, and restaurants to reopen, only under certain social distancing conditions. However, “all vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place,” and low-risk individuals should continue social distancing.

    Phase Two only applies for regions with no evidence of a reboundVisits to hospitals, nursing homes, and similar locations will remain prohibited. However, schools, day care centers, and camps can reopen, and nonessential travel can resume. Public venues can begin to ease social distancing restrictions.

    Phase Three is also for states or areas with no evidence of a rebound, but has fewer restrictions than phase two. Even vulnerable individuals would have more freedom, but should still practice social distancing, while others are urged to avoid “crowded environments.”

    For full details of the plan, go to: Guidelines for Opening Up America Again!  

  • Tue, April 07, 2020 12:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The latest Labor Department job numbers confirm what was painfully evident and widely reported, the unemployment numbers have leaped in the midst of the COVID-19 (Wuhan) pandemic in March with a DECREASE of 701,000 jobs for the month. (It is generally accepted that a range of approximately 130-150,000 new jobs per month are needed just to absorb the expanding demographics in the nation).  Construction non-seasonally adjusted figures were also hit by the downturn with unemployment climbing to 6.9 percent [a jump of 1.4 basis points above February, and up 1.7 basis points from a year ago in March 2019 when it stood at only 5.2%].  In March 2020, employment in the construction industry contracted by some 29,000 positions. [Over the prior 12-months, it had expanded by 211,000].

    The overall unemployment figure surged to 4.4 percent, up 0.9 basis points in a month.  (“Unemployed persons” also spiked 1.4 million to a total of 7.1 million per the government count).  Conversely, the “labor force participation” rate tumbled down 0.7 basis points to 62.7 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)].  The “employment to population ratio” fell by 1.1 basis points to 60.0 percent.  The only bright spot reported was average hourly earnings for employees improved/increased up to 3.1% (over the last 12-months). [This may simply reflect that those hanging onto to jobs saw small hourly increases, while vast numbers were furloughed or temporarily unemployed during the pandemic imposed downturn].

    Workforce Statistics Chart

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