30 April 2008
The value of construction put in place grew to $1,067 billion in the 12 months to April 2005, according to the latest report from the Census Bureau, up 8% on April 2004. This was the fifteenth consecutive monthly increase and another rise is predicted for May.
“For the first quarter of 2005 as a whole, construction exceeded the same period of 2004 by 9%,”Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) chief economist Ken Simonson told ACT. “Furthermore, the gains were widespread with private residential growing 13%, private non-residential up 7% and public construction rising 3%.”
Simonson expressed concern, however, over the price of construction materials, which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics are 8% higher than this time last year. “Steel and petroleum prices may have flattened out but are still higher than a year ago. Costs for other metals, cement, gypsum wall board, as well as freight charges, are likely to continue rising,”he said.
He also added that shortages of tires, insulation and possibly cement in some regions could become a problem in the coming months. “Recent reports suggest that the cement shortage could be even worse than that experienced last year when 35 states were affected. The Commerce Department needs to step up efforts to allow more imports of Mexican cement, instead of having to bring cement half way round the world through clogged ports and rail lines.”