If you’re into construction like I am then you’re always a little afraid. It’s a cyclical business that we’re taught runs on a 7-10 year cycle. Despite my shitty math skills, I’m pretty sure we’re at least in that range with the current boom. So wether you’re a bit paranoid like me or just interested in data and construction, here are a few of the places to check out if you want to keep an eye on the state of construction.
1) FRED Economic Data – This is hands down the best place for construction data. You can get Massachusetts-specific and sector-specific data on volume of construction, GDP, wages, and hours worked, and more. I have their app and it’s pretty good, I know, I need to get a life.
So what type of info do I find to be of particular interest?
There’s certainly plenty of data to look at around wages, hours worked, and GDP. I find this Value of Construction Put in Place broken down by sector to be interesting as well.
2) The Beige Book is a monthly report put out by the Federal Reserve that occasionally has some valuable information for the construction industry. You would look at the report’s Boston District, which covers New England, and there are sections for commercial and residential real estate. I find it most useful for leasing and rent numbers which show potential movement that would produce TI work. The most recent report, “Commercial Real Estate” starts on page A-2.
3) The AIA has the Architectural Billings Index (ABI), which can be forward looking for construction given that it tracks billings of architecture firms, design contracts signed, and new project inquiries.
4) The ABC of America has the Construction Confidence Index (CCI), a six-month report that tracks sentiment of its members. In general I don’t find sentiment indicators very valuable because the way people feel can often be wrong. In fairness I’m sure they’re looking at their book of business/pipeline, which does have value, but as we know it’s often too late by the time people figure out there’s a problem. However, I think it definitely has value in verifying the current state of the industry.
5) Last, there are a couple of websites that post some permitting data, but it’s usually a painstaking process to dig around. At this point if you find this stuff that interesting then seek help.
What places am I missing? Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org