Labor Market News: Not So Good Friday

This morning’s announcement from the Labor Department echoed the private payrolls report by ADP earlier this week: hiring has slowed. Government data for March showed 126,000 new jobs, roughly half the number that was the consensus estimate of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. Hiring for January and February were revised downward as well, leaving an average gain of 197,000 jobs/month during the first quarter.

The causes of the slowed pace of hiring aren’t clear. Poor weather slashed demand for construction, hospitality, retail and other consumer businesses. Earnings growth has slowed, leaving less cash for growing payrolls. There is also the tightening labor pool, which was reflected in the unexpected wage hikes for McDonald’s and WalMart recently. If businesses can’t attract workers, they won’t be adding new jobs. As with all monthly economic news, more time is needed to understand if we’re in a slowing trend or a seasonal variation.

In a slow construction news week the biggest news was the selection of Massaro as the construction manager at-risk for the new $21 million, 250,000 sq. ft. Ensinger Plastics plant in South Strabane Twp. Penn State had made selections on the final pieces of its big push for professional services from the winter. The team of EYP Architects and DPR Construction was selected for the $30 million AgEngineering Building, the first true integrated project delivery project to be done at PSU. HOK’s New York office was chosen to design the $100 million chemical engineering/biomedical engineering building and Populous was awarded the design contract for the Lasch Football Building renovation.

Tall Timber’s preliminary research of building permit offices showed close to $700 million in construction contracting during the first quarter, a robust start to the year. Following a $900 million fourth quarter of 2014, construction is heading for an upward trend in work.

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