Percentage increase in NEMA’s Primary Industrial Controls Index during the third quarter of 2009 as compared with the second quarter. While this represented the first quarter-to-quarter gain for the index since 2008(Q2), shipments remain at a very low level, with the index still more than 30% below the third quarter mark of 2008.

Source: NEMA


Percentage of panelists (contractors) participating in FMI Corp.’s Nonresidential Construction Index (NRCI) for the fourth quarter of 2009 that indicated long-range planning is both necessary and valuable to keep their firms on track. The remaining 38% saw little value for long-range planning at a time when they are struggling to find enough work to keep the doors open. Nearly 58% of respondents reported focusing on their core businesses and stressing better execution, while others are looking at new markets (21%), considering new businesses or services (6.5%), or taking more radical steps to prepare the firm for new markets and customers (14.5%).

Source: FMI Corp.


The number of construction workers that lost their jobs in November, compared to 56,000 in October. Despite a slowing in the number of construction workers losing jobs in November, 19.4% of the nation’s construction workers are now unemployed. Among construction workers losing jobs in November, 86% (23,900) worked in non-residential construction while 3,800 worked in residential.

Source: Associated General Contractors of America and Bureau of Labor Statistics


Percentage drop in new construction starts in November (seasonally adjusted). Through the first eleven months of 2009, total starts fell 28% from the same period a year ago. According to Robert Murray, McGraw-Hill Construction’s vice president of economic affairs, even with the November decline, “the evidence of recent months suggests that overall construction activity has at least stabilized at a low level.”

Source: McGraw-Hill Construction


Number of states that experienced a rise in construction employment for the month of November. This was an improvement from the previous month, when construction employment climbed in only 17 states. Only eight states posted back-to-back construction job gains in October and November: Kansas, 5%; West Virginia and Indiana, 4% each; Wisconsin, 3%; Arkansas, Georgia and Ohio, 2%; and Massachusetts, with minimal gains in both months. North Dakota remained the only state with a 12-month net gain in construction jobs (900 jobs or 4%). The biggest 12-month percentage losses were in Nevada, -25%; Arizona and Tennessee, -22% each; Kentucky, -21%; Maryland and Wyoming, -18% each.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Number of points that the Electroindustry Business Confidence Index (EBCI) for future North American conditions rebounded in December, following declines in each of the two previous months. At 64.3, the index posted its tenth straight reading above 50. By contrast, the EBCI for current North American conditions fell 5.7 points in December to 48.2, failing to top the critical 50-point threshold for the first time since July, which indicates modest deterioration in the business environment following a period of steady, if slow, growth over the last several months.

Source: NEMA


The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) rating, as measured in November. This figure was down more than three points from the 46.1 mark in October (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings), indicating a continued decline in demand for design services. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. “There continues to be a lot of uncertainty in the construction industry that likely will delay new projects in the near future,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Perhaps the President’s plan calling for loans for small business, funding for infrastructure projects and rebates for homeowners making energy efficient improvements will help speed a recovery in the construction industry.”

Source: The American Institute of Architects


Percentage drop in construction spending in November, putting the total at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $900 billion, which is down 13% from November 2008 and the lowest total in six years.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Percentage drop in the number of construction workers filing initial unemployment claims in November 2009 as compared to the same time a year ago. Initial claimants dropped by nearly one-half among employees of building contractors and nearly one-fourth among heavy and civil engineering employees but were unchanged for specialty trade contractors.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics and Associated General Contractors of America


Number of states that face large budget gaps for the current fiscal year, which began July 1 for most states. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “initial indications are that states will face shortfalls as big or bigger than they faced this year in the upcoming 2011 fiscal year.”

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities


Percentage increase in nationwide housing production in November, totaling a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units.

Source: U.S. Commerce Department


Level of builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in December. This total is one point less than the previous reading. According to NAHB, this can be attributed to the continued weakness in the economy and job markets, which has weighed on consumers’ potential home buying plans.

Source: National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index


Percentage decrease in sales of newly built, single-family homes in November, putting the total for the month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 355,000 units.

Source: U.S. Commerce Department