Supply House Times

Dec. 27, 2007 ― Population, Revenues, Construction Job Growth Slow In Once-Hot States

December 27, 2007
The U.S. population rate was little changed from 2006, but several fast-growing states slowed.

U.S. population grew a bit less than 1% from July 1, 2006, to July 1, 2007, the Census Bureau reported today (www.census.gov/popest/estimates.php). The U.S. rate was little changed from 2006 but several fast-growing states slowed. Nevada was the fastest-growing state (2.9%, down from 3.5% in 2006), ahead of Arizona (2.8%, down from 3.6%), after two years in which Arizona had been slightly ahead of Nevada. They were followed by Utah (2.6% in 2007, 3% in 2006), Idaho (2.4%, 2.7%) and Georgia (2.2%, 2.6%). Other states with large decelerations included Texas (2.1%, down from 2.5% in 2006, when Texas had many temporary hurricane evacuees) and Florida (1.1%, 1.8%). The slowest growth rates were in New York (0.1%), Vermont (0.1%), Ohio (0%), Michigan (-0.3%) and Rhode Island (-0.4%). Over time, population growth is a driver of many types of construction, while changes in growth rates can be a clue as to where construction opportunities are increasing or shrinking. The biggest accelerations in growth were in Louisiana (1.2% in 2007, after falling -5.6% in 2006 following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita), Mississippi (0.7%, -0.05%; also a rebound from the hurricanes) and Wyoming (2.0%, 1.2%). The components of population change can also provide clues to demand for different types of construction. For instance, Utah consistently has by far the highest birth rate (2.1% of average 2006-07 population, whereas most states are close to the 1.4% national average). The 2006 estimated population was reduced by 644,000 and 2000-05 totals were also reduced. Cities often challenge the Census estimates. Such revisions can help localities qualify for larger state or federal grants that are tied to population. Census has accepted 48 challenges for 2006 (www.census.gov/popest/archives/challenges.html), including upward revisions of 38,000 for Detroit, 36,000 for New York City and 29,000 for Milwaukee.

States where population growth has slowed are vulnerable to steeper price drops for housing and falling state and local revenue to support school and other public construction. “In Maricopa County, the largest in Arizona, a ‘large percentage’ of the one million single-family homeowners will see their houses reassessed at lower rates in February, said Keith Russell, the county assessor,” the New York Times reported on Sunday.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released November data on seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment by state (www.bls.gov/sae). BLS reported that from October to November, total nonfarm employment increased in 38 states plus the District of Columbia, decreased in 10 states, and was unchanged in two states. From November 2006 to November 2007, employment increased everywhere except in Ohio, -0.2%, and Michigan, -1.8%. The biggest year-over-year percentage gains were again in Utah, 4.3%; followed by Wyoming, 3.6%, Montana, 3.3%, Louisiana, 2.2%, and Colorado, 2%. Year-over-year, national employment was up 1.1%; construction was down 1.6%. Construction employment increased in November in only 20 states, fell in 17, and was unchanged (or within 100 of the October level) in 13 plus DC. Year-over-year, construction employment climbed in 28 states, fell in 18, and was unchanged in four plus DC. The largest percentage gains in construction were in Wyoming, 12.5%; Montana, 10%; Utah, 9%; Mississippi, 8%; and Hawaii, Rhode Island and Tennessee, 5% each. The steepest drop was in Michigan, -9%, followed by Arizona, -8%; Alaska and Nevada, -5% each; and Minnesota, -4%. Given the national totals (residential, -4.7%; nonresidential +0.9%), it is likely most of the declines are in residential construction, but this level of detail is not available at the state level. (Construction data is combined with the small natural resources and mining totals in Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Maryland and Nebraska.)

“Personal income growth accelerated to 1.4% in the third quarter of 2007 from 0.9% in the second quarter,” the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported on December 19. “State personal income growth rates in the third quarter ranged from 0.8% to 3.6%, with growth accelerating or holding steady in all but 11 states…. Declines in the construction and real estate industries, in contrast, reduced national third quarter personal income growth about 0.1 percentage point directly and softened growth in related industries such as finance. Some of the largest impacts were in states such as Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada where a substantial portion of mortgage foreclosures were for investor owned properties. At the same time, construction contributed more to personal income growth in Louisiana than any other industry-and Louisiana had the third highest growth rate of all states. Construction in Louisiana and Mississippi has been bolstered by the recent distribution of several billion dollars of Road Home grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to persons whose homes had been destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Construction also contributed to growth in states such as New York, Texas and Washington.”

On December 20, BEA posted data on compensation of employees by industry for states, counties and metro areas for 2006 and earlier years. Construction industry data is available separately for building, heavy and civil engineering, and specialty trade construction.