Concrete economist gives somber forecast at WOC

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A somber but resilient mood permeated World of Concrete’s opening in Las Vegas this week reports ENR.com. Recession-minded, budget conscious construction solutions dominated exhibitor offerings.

A reeling construction industry, which had a 20.7% jobless rate in December, faces fledgling growth through 2013 before recovery begins in earnest, said Skokie, Ill.-based Portland Cement Association chief economist Ed Sullivan. Excess homebuilder inventories, tight lending standards and state budget deficits, as well as high unemployment and capacity constraints are expected to dampen new construction investment in 2011 and 2012.

“Economic growth will not become strong enough to generate more robust job gains in the short-term, translating into a longer than expected recovery period,” Sullivan said during a January 18 forecast event. “This is a construction focused recession.”

Yet, future population growth and infrastructure investment, led by a renewed federal transportation bill, will fuel a 16.6-million and 18-million-tonne Portland cement consumption increase between 2013 and 2014, respectively, Sullivan said. The industry sank to a historic low point in 2009, with 26.9-million tonnes of negative cement absorption. Things have sluggishly improved since.

“The critical issue is confidence in lending and spending,” Sullivan said. “It takes time to push down the headwinds that still face our industry.” Read More.

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