End of Week Roundup

As chaotic as US politics is right now, the economy continues to hum along. Today’s jobs report outperformed the expectations of analysts, with 227,000 new jobs added to payrolls last month. That continued expansion is in contrast to the story in Pittsburgh, which last year added only 4,400 jobs. At Thursday’s Viewpoint presentation – one of the best forecasting events for commercial real estate – Integra Realty Resources’ President Paul Griffith explained how the healthy job growth early in the business cycle has faded to a flat line since 2013. Pittsburgh’s strong economic sectors have been offset by declining employment in energy and manufacturing.

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In project news, Volpatt Construction was awarded the $2.4 million Nursing Unit 5A renovation at St. Clair Hospital. Developer Alphabet City selected Brubach Construction to build its $7 million, 60,000 sq. ft. East Liberty Centre office building. Campus Advantage interviewed Turner, PJ Dick, Continental and Rycon for its $40 million apartment on Forbes Avenue in Oakland. Rycon Construction is underway on the $27 million, 172-unit Emerald on Centre apartments in Shadyside. Sota Construction is taking bids from subcontractors on the renovation of the Allequippa Place apartments and construction of the 49-unit new Wadsworth Street Apartments, roughly $8 million in total construction. And McCaffrey Interests is taking RFP’s next week on the $66 million Terminal Building redevelopment in the Strip District.


  1. Better for Pittsburgh to add 4,400 jobs year over year than 400 jobs, like it did in 2013. I’m sure much of the carnage in 2016 had to do with the energy industry. Even Houston had job growth barely above zero for most of last year.

    1. In each of the past four years there have been counterweights on the job market. For the most part the negative counterweights have been the cutbacks in the gas play (and coal to some extent) and in manufacturing. Those declining sectors have offset growing employment in technology, financial servicews and healthcare. With the uptick in the gas industry and in related manufacturing, there should be little in the way of negative counterweights. Most forecasts for Pittsburgh are for job gains to be higher, between 10,000 and 20,000 jobs.

      It will be interesting to watch what final revisions occur next month to these numbers for 2016. The past few years, initial estimates came in around one percent growth in January, with downward revisions in April that left the final number flat. My suspicion is that we may see a revision upward in April. Nothing dramatic, but bear in mind that the government does not actually count new jobs. These are very sophisticated estimates based on surveys of data and people. The weakness in the methodology is that it is hard to capture changes in trend direction.

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