The morning started off with some good macroeconomic news for the U.S. market. The Labor Dept. reported that 236,000 jobs were added in February, well above the 160,000 forecasted by economists. Construction, primarily home building, was an improved category, with 48,000 new jobs. You can read Marketwatch’s report on the new hiring at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-economy-adds-236000-jobs-in-february-2013-03-08-81034917?dist=beforebell
Hiring was expected to be dampened by the blizzards, concern about the sequesters and the 2013 tax increases. Instead, employers seemed to power through, bringing the unemployment rate down to 7.7%. That’s the lowest since Dec. 2008.
In another national development, the Federal Reserve’s stress test of the 18 largest banks found only Ally (the former GMAC) couldn’t withstand the hypothetical nine-quarter scenario with an unemployment rate of roughly 12%real GDP declining by around 5% and equity prices falling by more than 50%. While that is good news, banks as a category are still behaving with much more caution than the economic state implies. Cost cutting has increased for even the healthiest banks – like PNC- and that makes me worry about what banks see on the horizon or what they know about their own balance sheets that we don’t.
Getting to the regional construction scene, there was news from two of the bigger projects being planned for hospital construction. Highmark is pre-qualifying contractors for the building packages of its $100 million medical mall in Wexford. RFQ’s were sent to virtually every contractor with hospital experience. Responses will be interesting since the project is apparently going to bid to at least separate general, mechanical and electrical contractors. Mosites Construction was awarded the foundation package for the 174,000 sq. ft. building.
WVUH selected Yates Construction from Mississippi to act as CM for their $140 bed tower addition, part of a multi-phase $250 million expansion of the South Tower of Ruby Hospital.
CM proposals have also been requested from Continental, Mascaro, Massaro, PJ Dick and TEDCO for the conversion of a portion of the Oliver Building downtown into a 240-room hotel. The project should run in the $30 million range.