As the industry heads into the eighth month of the COVID-19 crisis, we continue to see a mixed bag of industry and economic indicators. Aggregates producers seem to be holding their own, over and above the fact that the construction market has seen its fair share of fluctuations. Aggregates production did dip 3% compared with that of the second quarter of 2019, according to U.S. Geological Survey Commodity Specialist Jason Willett.
Total construction starts rose 19% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $793.3 billion. Gains were seen in all three major building sectors: nonresidential building starts rose 16% and residential building climbed 12%, while nonbuilding construction jumped 40% over the month. That is a net positive.
Associated General Contractors of America said 60% of member firms report having at least one future project postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus, while 33% report having projects that were already underway halted because of the pandemic.
Nearly all commercial contractors (85%) are still experiencing delays due to the coronavirus outbreak, with 83% expecting delays to continue into the fall and 71% expecting delays will remain through early 2021, according to Dodge Data and Analytics. However, the average amount of delays has decreased sharply as the year continues. In July, contractors reported an average share of 26% of their projects were delayed, down from 40% in April.
The deadline to re-up the FAST Act came and went, with no new infrastructure bill in sight. It looks like we will live on temporary authorizations until a new Congress convenes after the election.
Then there’s the election. I am sure you have heard enough about that.
On a final note, in the August 2020 issue of Rock Products, we published a case study involving FST Sand and Gravel and its equipment supplier Weir Minerals. The article generated concern from FST as some of the information in the article was out of date or incorrect. Rock Products apologizes for those errors.
Enjoy the month of Rocktober.
Mark S. Kuhar, editor