The U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a “Monthly Jobs Report” soon after the beginning of each month. Each report describes the previous month’s employment situation, based on data such as the number of jobs that were added to the economy and the unemployment rate. According to the March Jobs Report, the US economy saw an increase of 103,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%.
Growth wasn’t as substantial in March (103k) as it was in February (313k), however the outlook is still positive. This was the 90th consecutive month of growth. According to the New York Times, “February’s job growth was probably inflated by a surge in hiring in construction and the retail sector that reflected unseasonably warm weather in much of the country. Both sectors slumped in March as winter storms blew through the eastern United States.”
Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Industry
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is the leading economic indicator of construction activity, as it “reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and nonresidential construction spending.” A score of 50 is neutral, above 50 is positive and below 50 is negative. The March ABI of 51 shows an increase in demand for design services. According to the report, billings remain strong at firms with multifamily residential and commercial / industrial sectors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a decrease of 15,000 jobs within the construction industry. Architect Magazine indicated that the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry as a whole saw a decline. For example:
- Architectural and engineering services declined by 3,600 jobs
- Heavy and civil engineering construction decreased by 3,600 jobs
The Dodge Momentum Index tracks and measures the initial reporting of non-residential building projects. With the increase in non-residential construction projects, the Dodge Data & Analytics’ Momentum Index increased 6.1% in March to 155. Commercial building saw a decrease of 9.6% and the institutional building an increase of 1.6%.