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Sample PP Slides for Economic Forecast Q2 2023
On Thursday morning May 25th, I will be presenting my Q2 2023 Construction Economic Forecast at Hanson Wade’s Advancing Preconstruction conference in Phoenix, AZ. Here is a selection of the slides cut from the full presentation.
The full presentation covers the data used in preparation of the full forecast, and it’s potential impact on the outcome, including Construction Starts, Backlog, Cashflow, Spending, Inflation, Business Volume, Jobs and Risk.
Hanson Wade’s Advancing Preconstruction conference is one of the largest, if not the largest, preconstruction conferences held in the United States. This is my 6th year presenting at AP.
The Next Forecast Challenge
The next big challenge in construction forecasting is to determine, Will Nonres Bldgs spending increase without an equal increase in nonres bldgs jobs? If so, by how much?
At the onset of the Pandemic, nonres bldgs jobs dropped 16%. Jobs have since recovered to down only 1% vs Feb 2020. Spending (bottomed in Sep 2021) fell 17%, but is now up 15% over Feb 2020.
But the key to this comparison is inflation, which, when subtracted from spending gives real volume growth. Inflation adds only to spending, it adds nothing to volume of work.
Nonres Bldgs inflation was 2.4% in 2020, 8.2% in 2021 and 11.9% in 2022. Total Nonres Bldgs inflation from Feb 2020 to Mar 2023 is 26%.
Since the onset of the Pandemic, Nonres Bldgs spending is up 15% but after inflation volume is down 8%. During that time jobs are down 1%. That’s now over three years that jobs exceed volume of work. Let’s look at more recent data.
In the last 12 months, Mar’22 to Mar’23, nonres bldgs jobs are up 3.5%. Nonres Bldgs spending is up 21%, but after ~7% inflation, volume of nonres bldgs workload is up 14%. So, we have a 3.5% increase in jobs to accomodate a 14% increase in volume.
The last year has shown a huge increase in the volume of nonres bldgs work, without an equal increase in jobs. This shows the excess nonres bldgs jobs for the past three years is now absorbing greater workload, (a 3.5% increase in jobs to accomodate a 14% increase in volume), without a cry of jobs shortages.
What’s the real magnitude of this difference in percent growth, a 10.5% increase in volume over jobs. Well that 10.5% increase in volume is $50 billion worth of construction put-in-place. Not delayed, not canceled, put-in-place. With no equal increase in jobs. So the existing jobs put this work in place. $50 billion in one year would normally require 250,000 jobs to put-in-place. Or by using overtime and working the existing workforce longer hours to get it done, the entire nonres bldgs workforce of 3.5 million would need to work 10 hour days 5 days a week to put that much extra work in place. Well, BLS reports hours worked changed by less than 1 hour/week.So, it wasn’t accomplished with added jobs and it wasn’t accomplished with overtime.
Some regular readers here could probably point back to a half dozen articles over the last few years in which I describe nonres bldgs volume levels had dropped but jobs had not. I mentioned before that existing jobs could and probably would absorb some of the growth. That could occur if there were a need to backfill volume to support the existing workforce.
The forecast for Nonresidential Buildings spending in 2023 is +20%. After 6% inflation, volume is forecast +14%. Jobs will not increase by 14%. Jobs have never increased more than 5% and normal is 3.5%. A 14% increase is equivalent to 500,000 jobs, just to support the growth in nonres bldgs. 500,000 jobs is double the normal annual rate of growth for all construction jobs. Nonres Bldgs is is only 33% of all construction
So the questions for the forecaster are these, 1) do we break the mold for construction jobs growth and add half a million jobs, and exceed all known indicators on construction jobs growth?, 2) Will volume vs jobs grow similar to the previous year, volume up 14% and jobs up 3.5%?, or 3) Does nonres bldgs volume growth slow down to a rate of growth more in-line with jobs growth?
I’m heavily leaning to #2, volume will exceed jobs growth. Some of the added work in the near future will be absorbed by the current workforce. Also I do think I’m partly leaning towards #3, volume growth will slow to less than currently predicted, although not nearly to the low level of historical jobs growth. I don’t expect jobs growth to exceed historical maximum of 5% annually, 175,000 nonres bldgs jobs. I do expect to reduce the forecast spending and extended out to a further date.
Construction Data Briefs APR 2023
Construction is booming. Nonresidential buildings is leading growth. For the first two months of the year, total construction spending year-to-date (ytd) is up 5.9%, but nonresidential buildings spending is up 23% ytd, the fastest rate of nonres bldgs growth in over 20 years. Nonresidential buildings annual rate of spending has increased 19% in the last six months. Nonbuilding spending ytd is up 8%. Nonbuilding annual rate of spending increased 10% in the last four months. Residential spending peaked in March 2022. Since then the annual rate of residential spending has dropped 11%.
Total Construction Spending in 2023 is now forecast to reach $1,894 billion, an increase of 5.3% over 2022.
Nonresidential Buildings spending in 2023 is now forecast at $629 billion, an increase of 20.3% over 2022.
The rate of construction spending in 2023 will be influenced predominantly by a 40% increase in new nonresidential building starts in 2022. In recent years, new nonres bldgs starts averaged $300 billion/year. In the 2nd half of 2022, starts averaged over $500 billion/year. Many of those projects will have peak spending in 2023. Some will occur in 2024.
Residential construction (Dodge) starts posted the five highest months ever all in the 1st 6 months of 2022. In the second half of 2022, residential starts fell 15%. In Jan and Feb 2023, starts dropped another 20% below 2nd half 2022. Starts are now down 25% in 12 months.
Nonresidential Bldgs starts in 2022 posted the largest ever one-year increase in new nonresidential buildings construction starts, up 40%. Starts were also up 15% in 2021. Nonres Bldgs new starts in the 2nd half 2022, averaged 67% higher than any other 6mo period in history.
Growth in Manufacturing construction starts for 2022 far surpasses growth in any other market, up over 150%. Office is up 36% (datacenters), Healthcare up 17%, Comm/Rtl up 23% (warehouses).
Non-building starts increased more than 100% in July 2022. The 2nd half 2022 was up 50% over 1st half 2022. Starts for 2023 are forecast up 15%. For 2022, Highway up 25%, Transportation up 45%, Power up 30% and Public Works up 15%.
Construction Spending through February 2023 is up 5.9% ytd. Spending is forecast to finish 2023 up 5.3%.
While residential falls back nearly 7% in 2023, Nonresidential buildings is leading with a forecast of 20% spending growth.
Total construction spending for 2023 is on track to increase +5.3%. Residential -6.7%, Nonres Bldgs +20.3%, Nonbldg +13.5%.
SPENDING BY SECTOR CURRENT $ AND INFLATION ADJUSTED CONSTANT $
In 2023, it’s Nonresidential Buildings leading growth. In 2024, it will be Nonbuilding Infrastructure leading spending growth. Both are expected to grow greater than the inflation index.
See also Construction Spending Outlook – Feb 2023
Current $ Spending, Inflation and Volume SEE Construction Inflation 2023
Inflation adjusted volume is spending minus inflation, or to be more accurate, spending divided by (1+inflation). The following table shows spending, inflation and volume (spending without inflation) for each year. All $ are current to the year stated. This table shows that inflation adds nothing to volume growth. All values in this table are current to the year stated. The values in this table are not indexed to a constant value year. This is an attempt to show that business volume in any given year is not as high as spending would indicate. When inflation is positive, volume is always less than spending by the amount attributed to inflation.
Spending during the year is the value of business volume plus the inflation on that volume. When inflation is 12%, volume plus 12% = total spending. Revenue is generally measured by spending put-in-place during the year. In 2022, Nonresidential buildings business volume was 12.2% less than spending, or less than revenue. Residential volume was 15.7% less then spending.
SPENDING TOTAL CURRENT $ AND INFLATION ADJUSTED CONSTANT $
Overall Construction Spending is up 22% in the 36 months since the onset of the pandemic, but, during that same period inflation increased 31%. After adjusting for 31% inflation, constant $ volume is down 7%. So, while the plot on the left shows three years of increases in spending, the actual change in business volume is still down and has not yet returned to the pre-pandemic peak in Feb-Mar 2020.
NONRESIDENTIAL SPENDING (CURRENT $) AND VOLUME (CONSTANT $)
Nonresidential Buildings spending in 2023 is forecast at $629 billion, an increase of 20.3%, or $100 billion and add another $50 billion in 2024.
In 2022 we realized the largest ever one-year increase in new nonresidential buildings construction starts, up 40%. Starts were also up 15% in 2021.
The AIA Consensus Construction Forecast, December 2022 predicts only a 5.8% increase in spending for nonresidential buildings in 2023. My beginning of year forecast for comparison was 15.8%. My current forecast is +20.3%.
We began the year with record new starts indicating an increasing spending rate. The monthly rate of spending is up 12 of the last 14 months, has increased for 6 consecutive months and is up 20% in the last 6 months. The rate of spending is predicted to increase 10 out of 12 months in 2023, a total increase of 11% over the year. Barring any unforeseen negative occurrence, the trajectory in the rate of spending is increasing.
Year-to-date nonresidential buildings spending for Jan+Feb is up 23%. This is driven by Manufacturing, up 53% ytd, but also supported by Lodging up 38% ytd and Commercial/Retail up 23% ytd. Every nonresidential building market except Educational (up only 8%) is up greater than 10% ytd.
Nonresidential buildings spending fell 17% from March 2020 to Sept 2021, then increased 36% from Sept 2021 to Feb 2023. Currently, as of Feb 2023, spending is 14% higher than the pre-pandemic peak in Feb 2020. But nonresidential buildings inflation over that same 36 months increased 26%. Business volume in constant $ actually fell 25% from Feb 2020 to Sept 2021, and hit a secondary low in mid-2022. Since then, the actual change in business volume has increased 18%, but that still leaves volume nearly 10% lower than the pre-pandemic high.
Non-building Infrastructure spending for 2023-24 is forecast up 25%, up $50 billion/year for two years. Non-building Infrastructure will post the 1st year of sizable gains since 2019, forecast at $415bil, up 13.5% in 2023. In 2022, Highway and Public Utilities posted strong gains of 9.1% and 16.6%, but those gains were offset by a 8.7% decline in Power. For 2023, Highway and Transportation recorded the strongest starts in five years. All markets post spending gains in 2023, with Highway up 26%, Transportation up 9% and Public Utilities up 8%.
Non-building Infrastructure spending is up 4% in 36 months since Feb 2020. After adjusting for 26% inflation, constant business volume is down 17%.
RESIDENTIAL SPENDING SF-MF-RENO CURRENT $ AND CONSTANT $
Residential starts are forecast down or flat in 2022 and 2023. Spending grew 44% in the last 2yrs, but inflation was 30% of that 44%. With no growth in starts forecast for 22-23, spending will struggle to keep up with inflation. Residential spending is forecast to fall 7% in 2023. Most of the decline is single family. Single family is down a total of 23% over 10 consecutive months. Multifamily is up 22% over 13 consecutive months. Renovations gained 25% in 2022 but spending varies +/- 10% throughout the year. Midyear there is potential for 6 consecutive down months in residential spending.
DOES VOLUME OF WORK SUPPORT JOBS GROWTH? or, Can jobs growth support volume of work?
Jobs should track volume, not spending growth. Volume = spending minus inflation. Volume is down, although now increasing, while jobs are up. Nonres Bldgs volume, in constant $, fell 25% from Feb 2020 to Sept 2021, and hit a secondary low in mid-2022. Since then, the actual change in nonres bldgs volume has increased 18%. Yet nonres bldgs jobs increased only 3.5%. That still leaves volume nearly 10% lower than the pre-pandemic high. If the same production levels ($ put-in-place per worker) as 2019 were to be regained, theoretically, nonresidential volume would need to increase 10% with no increase in nonresidential jobs. For now, productivity is well below that of 2019.
Nonresidential Buildings spending in 2023 is forecast at $629 billion, an increase of 20.3%, or $100 billion and another $50 billion in 2024. Non-building Infrastructure spending for 2023-24 is forecast up 25%, up $50 billion/year each year.
This growth amounts to an increase of $150 billion in 2023 and $100 billion in 2024. It takes 5000 jobs to put-in-place $1 billion. So $100 billion in 2024 would need 500,000 new jobs. 2023 would need 750,000 new jobs.
If we were to grow the labor force to meet the newly identified workload added from new starts, we would need to double the prior maximum rate of construction jobs growth. Normal growth is about 250,000 jobs per year and maximum prior growth is about 400,000. The workload discussed above would require 750,000 + 500,000 new jobs back to back. That’s an expansion of the industry by 15%, in an industry that normally grows 3%/yr. This industry can’t grow that fast. (Which means I need to account for over-capacity growth as a potential reduction in future forecast. You can’t increase spending that fast if you can’t expand the industry that fast).
4-16-23 update- Everything forecast above is predicated on the normal cash flow of forecast new starts. As of yet, this forecast has not been reduced to reflect the inability of the industry to expand jobs fast enough to absorb the volume of spending generated from forecast starts. Whether new starts get canceled or delayed, spending needs to be reduced annually for at least the next two years simply because jobs cannot increase fast enough to put-in-place the forecast spending. This impediment needs to be accounted for and could reduce overall construction spending forecast by approximately $40-$60 billion in 2023 and $25-$40 billion in 2024. The most likely markets where a reduction would occur are Manufacturing, Highway, Commercial/Retail and Office.
SEE more discussion on Volume and Jobs
here 2023 Construction Volume Growth
and here Infrastructure Construction Expansion – Not So Fast
Construction Spending Outlook – Feb 2023
Total construction spending in 2023 will increase only 4.2% over 2022. Nonresidential Buildings will lead construction spending in 2023 with a forecast gain of 18%.
The last two years, 2021 and 2022, total spending increased 8.5% and 10%. However, inflation in 2021 was 11% and in 2022 was 15%, both higher than spending. Real construction volume for the year is spending without the inflation. The volume of work completed in 2021 is 11% less than 2021 spending and in 2022 is 15% less than the total of 2022 spending.
The rate of construction spending in 2023 will be influenced predominantly by a 38% increase in new nonresidential building starts in 2022. In fact, even more meaningful, Nonres Bldgs new starts, in 2nd half 2022, averaged 68% higher than any other 6mo period in history. In recent years, new starts averaged $300 billion/year. In the 2nd half of 2022, starts averaged over $500 billion/year. Many of the projects peak spending will occur in 2023. Some will occur in 2024. Total spending forecast for Nonres Bldgs in 2023 is $616bil, an increase of 18.5% over 2022.
Growth in Manufacturing construction starts for 2022 far surpasses growth in any other market, up over 150%. Total new starts for the past 2 years is up over 400%. It will take at least a year to determine how much of that growth is an increase in total new construction and how much is an increase in capture of data in the starts survey.
Non-building starts for 2022-23 are forecast up 50%. Spending 2023-24 is forecast up 23%.
Non-building Infrastructure will post the 1st year of sizable gains since 2019, forecast at $400bil, up 9.6% in 2023. In 2022, Highway and Public Utilities posted strong gains of 9.0% and 16.5%, but those gains were offset by a 9.0% decline in Power. For 2023, Highway and Transportation recorded the strongest starts in five years. All markets post spending gains, with Highway up 12.0%, Transportation up 15.0% and Public Utilities up 11.5%.
See this discussion on Infrastructure and Jobs here
Infrastructure Constr Expansion – Not So Fast
Residential starts in 2021 were up +21% to what was then a new high. Starts peaked in the 1st half 2022 then started a decline in 2nd half 2022. By Q4’22, the rate of new starts dropped by 20%. Starts are forecast down 2% in 2023.
After three years of gains totaling 64%, expect residential spending to decline 6% in 2023. Single Family (47% of rsdn) spending peaked in April and since is down 20% in eight consecutive months. Multi-family (15% of rsdn) is up 11 consecutive months, now up 19% from January 2022. Reno/Rpr (38% of all rsdn) is up 25% for the year, but in the last five months, the rate of spending has fallen 15%. Only multi-family is currently trending up. 75% of all gains in multi-family occurred in the 4th quarter.
For the past 3 years, 2020-2022, Reno/Repair construction spending has gone up 1.26 x 1.16 x 1.25 = 1.8x, or 80%. Spending is currently down 17% from the peak in 4 of the last 5 mo. If the SAAR were to stall where it’s at now for the rest of 2023, spending will be down 10% for the year and will still be up 1.65x over last 4 years. Sure, it’s down, but it’s still high.
Residential spending grew 44% in the last 2yrs, but inflation was 30% of that 44%.
The annual rate of spending in all Nonresidential Buildings markets increased from Q1 to Q4 2022 and also Q4 spending in every market was higher than the average for 2022. Heading into 2023, nonresidential buildings markets start out the year with the annual rate of spending already 8% higher than the average 2022, and the trend has been up. The annual avg is usually much higher than Jan of the year, so I’d expect 2023 to come in higher. Although there are a few moderate dips in spending in some markets during the year, every market adds growth in 2023.
NOTE: The Census spending release on 2-1-23 is the 1st release to capture Dec data and therefore all months in 2022. The 3-1-23 release will revise both Dec and Nov. The 4-1-23 release will revise Dec. And the 7-1-23 release will revise any/all months needing further revision in both 2021 and 2022, sometimes with hefty changes. Historically, revisions are predominantly UP.
See Behind The Spending Forecasts
for a table showing the annual rate of spending for each market in the 4th qtr compared to the 2022 average. That’s the rate of spending starting out 2023.
Starting out the year with (Dec’22) an annual rate of spending already averaging 8% greater than 2022, coupled with 38% growth in new starts in 2022, much of which will be spent in 2023, produces the strongest year of growth in nonresidential buildings construction spending since 2007.
3-1-23 Surprises in the Census Construction Spending for Jan.
Nonres Bldgs January 2023 spending begins the year at a rate up 16% vs avg 2022 and up 23% YTD vs Jan 2022. Just one month ago the Dec. rate of nonres bldgs spending was only 8% higher than the average of 2022. This is Nonres Bldgs construction spending best start to the year since my records back to 2001. All indications are spending will increase throughout the year. I had forecast Mnfg in 2023 up 35% and total Nonres Bldgs up 18%. Now I have Mnfg up 40% and Total Nonres Bldgs up 20%.
If spending continues to increase at even a moderate pace, we could see the year end with Mnfg spending up 45% and total Nonres Bldgs spending up 25%.
- Mnfg starts Jan +54% ytd and +33% vs avg 2022.
- Comm/Rtl starts Jan +23% ytd and +18% vs avg 2022.
- Lodging starts Jan +42% ytd and +18% vs avg 2022.
- RSDN starts Jan -6% ytd and -5% vs avg 2022.
- Highway begins 2023 +16% ytd and +8% vs avg 2022.
- Power begins 2023 -5% ytd and +3% vs avg 2022.
- Transportation begins 2023 +10% ytd and +14% vs avg 2022.
Part of the Mnfg +54% can be explained due to the very low Jan’22. That evens out in Q4, when 2022 inflation jumped, so 2023 comparisons won’t be as high.
Below, the enlarged scale gives a better look at nonresidential Bldgs spending.
To fully understand the forecast it is necessary to discuss the impact of inflation. Construction spending includes inflation. Inflation adds nothing to business volume. Spending minus inflation gives volume. Growth, or decline, in business volume measures the actual activity growth in the construction industry. Spending measures the amount of revenue that exchanged hands to make it happen.
2-6-23 Current and predicted Inflation updated to Q4’22
- 2020 Rsdn Inflation 4.6%, Nonres Bldgs 2.4%, Nonbldg Infra -0.3%
- 2021 Rsdn Inflation 13.9%, Nonres Bldgs 7.6%, Nonbldg Infra 7.9%
- 2022 Rsdn Inflation 15.7%, Nonres Bldgs 12.3%, Nonbldg Infra 13.8%
- 2023 Rsdn Inflation 1.7%, Nonres Bldgs 4.2%, Nonbldg Infra 4.3%
Although input costs have been dropping and final demand (Nonres Bldgs) increases have been slowing, 2023 demand for nonresidential construction is going to post the largest annual spending increase ever recorded. This could reverse the trend in Nonres pricing and keep inflation higher for Nonres Bldgs.
Inflation adjusted volume is spending minus inflation. Volume of work (spending minus inflation) is what drives the need for jobs.
- Total volume for 2021 fell 1.9%, Rsdn +10%, Nonres Bldgs -13%, Nonbldg -8%.
- Total volume for 2022 fell 2.3%, Rsdn -1%, Nonres Bldgs +1%, Nonbldg -9%.
- Total volume forecast 2023 is flat at 0%, Rsdn -10%, Nonres Bldgs +13%, Nonbldg +4%.
Because 2022 inflation was so high (12% to 15%), the adjustment to 2022 spending resulted in much lower volume. In 2023, spending is forecast up 4.2% (compared to last year spending) and forecast inflation is 2% to 5%. 2023 inflation reduces spending far less than what occurred in 2022. Volume gets compared to volume the previous year. Therefore volume in 2023 shows an unusually large increase compared to volume in 2022.
SEE Construction Inflation 2023
for the details of inflation costs, but here are plots of the same information as the two plots above, only difference being the plots above are Current$, dollars as reported in the current year as reported by Census, and the plots below are constant$, inflation $ has been removed. The plots below actually measure the real growth from year to year. For example, while the plot above shows residential growth in spending increased from $600 billion in Q1 2020, to $900 billion in 2022, the plot below shows most of that was inflation and after removing inflation, residential construction did increase in early 2022 but by Q1 2023 has dropped back to the same level it was at in Q1 2020.
Below, the enlarged scale gives a better look at nonresidential Bldgs volume.
Recent construction annual rate of spending is only 17% higher than March 2020, but overall total construction spending is up 30% for 2020-21-22. In that three year period there was 32% inflation, half of that in 2022. So, all of the 30% spending gain is inflation, there is no gain, (a slight drop of -2%) in volume for that three years. Residential spending increased more than 60% with rsdn inflation near 40%, so rsdn volume increased 20%. Rsdn jobs growth is near even on track with volume, but Nonres and Nonbldg jobs did not fall when volume dropped.Nonresidential had 10% volume decline in 2021. Nonres now has a volume deficit vs jobs, compared to at the end of 2019.
For a discussion of inflation effects on jobs growth visit this link where this chart will be discussed.
SEE Construction Spending – Volume – Jobs
Look Back at 2022 Construction Spending Forecasts
Initial Year end construction spending for 2022 is out today. This is when I compare my forecast for 2022 spending to all my prior monthly forecasts during the year AND I compare my midyear forecast prepared in May-June to the forecasts published at midyear in the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast. You can judge how I’ve measured up to forecasts thru the year.
This 1st table shows just the sum total in each sector for each monthly forecast I produced during the year. This year was quite unique in that new construction starts for nonresidential work increased by 60% in the 2nd half of the year, a magnitude of increase never before experienced. No one could have predicted that.
In this table I compare the actual for 2022 to the September forecast. My data analysis of 20 years of input shows that a particular set of months through and including September has forecast the end of year spending within 1.5% for nonresidential and within 2% for residential. You can see with the initial data for 2022 that the Sept forecast was within 3.2% for residential and within 2.0% for Nonres Buildings. Nonbuilding Infrastructure came in under the 1.5% threshold.
This next table is shows my midyear forecast for total 2022 spending compared to the forecasts published in the AIA Midyear 2022 Consensus. I’ve highlighted in green the closest estimate to the actual end-of-year spending report. In red is the worst forecast at midyear. This is the 3rd consecutive year that I’ve beat all the forecasts in the AIA Consensus. In fact, looking back at 2015-2019 there are several other years in which I beat out the AIA Consensus estimates.
I’m including this next plot because it shows the accuracy of my nonresidential forecasts when comparing my cash flow forecast amount to the actual spending amount. It has proven to be pretty accurate over the years.
Behind The Spending Forecasts
2-1-23 Here’s a look at Nonresidential Buildings Construction Spending Forecasts for 2023. What’s Behind a Forecast?
Two things to look at when developing a forecast: What is the current rate of spending (SAAR), and what direction has it been moving?, and, What has been the recent activity in new starts (new contract awards)?
Most of the spending from new starts (all starts in total from Jan thru Dec) occurs in the year following the start. A reasonable spending estimate (across a large volume of work) is 20:50:30. So, for the sum total of all starts in the year, 20% gets spent in the 1st year (the year started), 50% the 2nd year and 30% the 3rd year. So approximately 50% of all new starts last year gets spent this year. The ratio can be much different from market to market. In other words, the most influential factor on the rate and trajectory of spending this year (barring something such as a pandemic or a recession) is starts from last year.
Here is my current baseline data:
- Construction spending for 2022 in the 2-1-23 release is $520 billion, up 11.6%
- Construction Starts (per Dodge) up ~38% in 2022, up 15% in 2021 and forecast down 10% in 2023.
- Current rate of spending (SAAR avg in Q4) is $560 bil, increasing $5bil-$10bil/month.
The increasing rate of spending makes sense, since starts were up so much in 2021 and 2022, and starts in the prior year is the greatest influence on rate of spending in the current year. Average nonres bldgs spending for 2022 is $520bil and the Q4 rate of spending is $562bil. The current rate of spending (SAAR in Dec) is 8% higher than the 2022 total spending and is increasing.
If something happened to stall spending right now at the current rate, it is at an annual rate of $562 billion, 8% higher than the average from 2022. So, as we begin 2023, with no forecast for a downturn, we could expect 2023 total spending would be at a minimum 8% higher than 2022. Since the current rate of spending is increasing, we could reasonably expect 2023 spending will add to the 8% starting advantage. This is a solid starting point for forecasting 2023 since this is already on record.
I prepared this following table to show the starting annual rate of spending for all of the markets, in particular the nonresidential buildings markets. As of Q4 2022, or the starting point for 2023, we see a few markets are only 3% to 5% above the 2022 average and a few are considerably higher. Also included in this table is the percent growth in new starts in 2022 for each market.
Let’s use an example: The Educational market, in Q4, or as we begin 2023, has monthly spending at a rate 4.9% greater than 2022. Starts increased 8% in 2022, so there will be a slight to moderate increase to spending in 2023. If spending growth stalls at the current rate, it will finish 2023 at 4.9% over 2022. The only way it should fall to less than that in 2023 is for some decline in some months in 2023 to less than the current rate of spending in Q4. Since all markets have substantial new starts to feed 2023 spending, all markets should post spending in 2023 higher than Q4 2022.
The rate of spending in 2023, being influenced predominantly by a 38% increase in starts in 2022, is projected to continue increasing throughout 2023. The monthly cashflow of the starts $ from all previous years that still generate spending in 2023 is what determines the rate of change in spending. My forecast has nonresidential buildings spending increasing steadily from a rate of $570 billion in January to $625 billion in December.
What data supports my forecast? Spending is already, in Oct-Nov-Dec, 8% higher than the average for 2022, so we begin 2023 at a rate of spending up a minimum 8% higher than the average for 2022. The average for 2023 could fall below the current 8% IF we were to experience some unforeseen negative occurrence in the coming months. I don’t foresee that happening. In 2022 we realized the largest ever one-year increase in new starts, up 38%. Starts were also up in 2021, up 15%. The monthly rate of spending is up 12 of the last 14 months, has increased for 6 consecutive months and is up 10% in the last 6 months. The rate of spending is predicted to increase 10 out of 12 months in 2023, a total increase of 11% over the year. Barring any unforeseen negative occurrence, the trajectory in the rate of spending is increasing and 2023 spending will finish well above the 8% advantage starting at the beginning of the year.
My total forecast for Nonresidential Buildings spending in 2023 is $616 billion, an increase of 18.5% over 2022.
The AIA Consensus Construction Forecast, December 2022 predicts only a 5.8% increase in spending for nonresidential buildings in 2023. Five of the nine forecasts provided in the Consensus Forecast are below the 5.8% consensus average. Only two forecasts are higher than 8% which is the projected minimum growth as we begin 2023, as explained above. As we begin the year with data, as of December, already at a rate 8% greater than the average for 2022, and with record new starts indicating an increasing spending rate, how is a forecast developed lower than that? What’s behind those spending forecasts?
This article was updated on 2-2-23 from November data to December data for clarity and to include the table showing Q4 data. Overall, the premise has not changed.
Two plots track how construction forecast matches up to actual spending. The light line is the monthly growth predicted by my forecasting. The same color dark line is the actual spending. The changes in Residential dominate the 1st plot, so the 2nd plot is just Nonresidential to improve the scale.
One comment about the Residential plot: Starts, which are needed to create the forecast, may not have accounted for the extreme inflation, so spending could have easily grown to 5% to 10% higher than the starts would have forecast. Notice the similarity between the two residential plots. Although the forecast is not at the same magnitude as the actual spending, it is still predicting the slope, the change in spending. Jul20 to Jan21 is where the plots varied.
Nonresidential forecasts vs actuals compare really well. By the end of 2020, my model was predicting a low point in nonresidential buildings spending out in the 2nd half of 2021. Nobody else predicted that bottom. The Starts Cashflow model does a good job of predicting spending.
Construction Year-End Spending Forecast Dec’22
A few brief comments. More comments to follow
See also Construction Briefs Nov’22
With only one month to go and eleven months in the year-to-date spending, we should see very little variance from the Forecast for 2022, which is expected to finish up 10.1% at $1,791 billion. Residential spending will finish up 13.4% even though it’s posted declines in six of the last eight months and is down 13% since March. Nonresidential Buildings spending, expected to finish up 10.9%, is being driven by Commercial Retail (up 20%, in this case Warehouses) and Manufacturing, which will finish the year up over 35%. Non-building Infrastructure finishes the year up only 1.9% due to a large drop off in Power spending. Highway and Public Utilities helped offset some of the Power decline.
Total construction spending for 2023 is forecast to increase +5.1%. Residential -2%, Nonres Bldgs +15%, Nonbldg +8%.
Some high $ items: Comm/Rtl +16%, Manufacturing +35%, Highway +11%, Transportation +16%, Pub Utilities +12%.
Residential starts in 2021 were up +21% to a lofty new high. But starts are forecast flat in 2022 and 2023. Spending grew 44% in the last 2yrs, but inflation was 30% of that 44%. With zero growth in starts forecast for 22-23, residential spending struggles to keep up with inflation. Residential spending will post a decrease of 2% in 2023. If inflation is 5%, that’s an 7% loss of business volume. Midyear there is potential for 6 consecutive down months.
Nonres Bldgs new starts last 2yrs (2021-2022) are up 50%. Spending next 2yrs is forecast up 20%.
Nonresidential Bldgs starts in Sept dropped 23% from August and yet still that was the 3rd highest month ever. July and August were 2nd and 1st. October starts added another 9% over Sept., taking over the 3rd best spot. Even though November dropped 25% from Oct., Nov. starts are still higher than the 1st half 2022 average.
Construction starts for Nonresidential Bldgs posted each of the last 4 months thru October higher than any months ever before. The avg of last 4 months is 33% higher than the avg of the best previous 4 mo ever (even non-consecutive).
Growth in Manufacturing construction starts for 2022 far surpasses growth in any other market, up over 150% year-to-date. Spending for Manufacturing Bldgs is expected to increase more than 30% in 2023. This seems high after already increasing 35% in 2022, but when taking into consideration that the expected spending for 2023 is only 15% higher than where we stand already in Q4 2022, it seems much more reasonable.
Backlog as we begin 2023 is up 16% over 2022, all nonresidential.
Inability to expand staff fast enough to match spending growth may limit some spending to lower than forecast.
Nonbuilding Infrastructure starts for 2022-23 are forecast up 37%. Spending 2023-24 is forecast up 20%. Starts since July are up 50% over the 1st half 2022 average. Highway/Bridge/Street starts increased almost 25% in 2022 and are forecast to increase 20% in 2023. Highway spending is up 9% in 2022, then increases 11% in 2023. A bigger spending increase of 16% occurs in 2024. Transportation starts will drop more than 30% in 2023, but that comes after a 100% increase in 2022. Transportation spending will jump 16% in 2023. Public Utilities, Sewer-Water-Conservation, collectively will post 60% growth in starts for 2021-22-23. Spending for this group increases 45% for 2022-23-24.
Construction Briefs Nov’22
Construction is Booming. Well, OK, construction is setting up to be booming in 2023-2024. New construction starts for Sept are down 19% from August and yet starts are still near the highest levels ever. Sept is 4th highest total starts ever, all four of the highest ever months of new starts are in 2022. July and Aug were the two highest months of new starts ever. Total growth in starts over 2021-2022 > Nonres Bldgs +50%, Nonbldg Infra +40%, Residential (all in ’21) +22%.
Construction Spending will not be participating in a 2023 recession. Except, residential might. Residential starts in 2021 were up +21% to a really high new high. But starts are forecast flat in 2022 and 2023. Spending grew 44% in the last 2yrs, but inflation was 30% of that 44%. With zero growth in starts forecast for 22-23, spending struggles to keep up with inflation. Residential will post only an increase of 3% in 2023 spending, but midyear there is potential for 6 consecutive down months.
See also Construction Year-End Spending Forecast Dec’22
SPENDING BY SECTOR CURRENT $ AND INFLATION ADJUSTED CONSTANT $
Nonresidential Buildings new starts last 2yrs (2021-2022) are up 50%. Spending next 2yrs (23-24) is forecast up 21%.
Nonbldg starts 2022-23 are forecast up 38%. Spending 2023-24 forecast up 20%.
In 2023, it’s Nonresidential Buildings leading growth. In 2024, it will be Nonbuilding Infrastructure leading spending growth. Both are expected to grow more than the inflation index, so there will be real volume growth to report.
Residential construction (Dodge) starts since Jan 2021 have posted 17 out of 21 months of the highest residential starts ever posted. The 5 highest months ever are all in 2022.
Nonresidential Bldgs starts in Sept dropped 23% from August and yet still that was the 3rd highest month ever. July and August were 2nd and 1st.
Construction starts for Nonresidential Bldgs posted each of the last 4 (consecutive) months thru October higher than any months ever before. The avg of last 4 (consecutive) months is 33% higher than the avg of the best previous 4 mo ever (even non-consecutive). Growth in Manufacturing construction starts for 2022 far surpasses growth in any other market, up over 150% year-to-date.
Construction Spending Sept total up 0.2% from Aug. Aug & Jul were revised up 1.1% & 1.3%. Total spending YTD thru Sept’22 is up 11.4% from Sept’21. MAJOR movers; Mnfg up 16% since Jun. Jul & Aug were revised up 7.4% & 8.4%. Highway is up 9% since June. Jul & Aug were revised up by 4.0% & 4.4%.
Total construction spending for 2022 is on track to increase +11.1%. Residential +16.8%, Nonres Bldgs +9.5%, Nonbldg +0.5%.
Comm/Rtl +18% Mnfg +32% Power -8% Pub Utilities +14%.
Current and predicted Inflation SEE Construction Inflation at Year-End 2022
Inflation adjusted volume is spending minus inflation.
Total volume for 2022 falls 1%. Rsdn +3%, Nonres Bldgs -1%, Nonbldg -9%.
Total volume for 2023 is up 1%. Rsdn -3%, Nonres Bldgs +8%, Nonbldg +2%.
SPENDING TOTAL ALL $ CURRENT $ AND INFLATION ADJUSTED CONSTANT $
Overall Construction Spending is up 15% since the onset of the pandemic, but, after adjusting for 25% inflation, volume is down 10%. Residential jobs are near even on track with volume, but Nonres and Nonbldg have volume deficits of approx 20-25% vs jobs.
- Feb 2020 to Aug 2022
- Resdn spend +42%, vol +6.5%, jobs +7%
- Nonres Bldgs spend -8%, vol -24%, jobs -3%
- NonBldg spend -7.5%, vol -24%, jobs +1%
JOBS VS CONSTRUCTION VOLUME VS SPENDING (VOL = SPENDING MINUS INFLATION
Labor Shortage? Jobs should track volume, not spending growth. Vol = spending minus inflation. Volume is down while jobs are up. If the same production levels ($ put-in-place per worker) as 2019 were to be regained, theoretically, nonresidential volume would need to increase 20% with no increase in nonresidential jobs. I don’t expect that to occur, therefore, productivity will remain well below that of 2019.
Over the next year or two, there could be several billion$ of construction spending to repair hurricane damaged homes in Florida. That spending will NOT be reported in Census spending reports. Renovations to repair natural disaster damage are not recorded in construction spending. Construction spending to replace homes entirely lost to damage IS reported in Census spending, but is reported as renovations/repair, not new SF or MF construction.