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Weekly Newsletter


Newsletter 2018-24                                                                                                     June 15, 2018


West Virginia continues to lead the nation in largest percentage of construction employment growth


For the fourth month in a row, West Virginia continues to lead the nation with the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year according to a recent analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. West Virginia added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (11.1 percent, 3,400 jobs), followed by Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Utah (7.6 percent, 7,300 jobs). Construction employment reached a record high in Louisiana, Nebraska and Texas. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between May 2017 and May 2018, while 28 states added construction jobs between April and May. Association officials warned that rising costs for many construction materials are likely to undermine future employment growth in the sector. They noted that contractors will have a hard time passing the additional costs along to their clients, leaving less money available to invest in new personnel or equipment. Officials also urged administration officials to reconsider imposing new tariffs that are likely to undermine economic growth.


For the past number of years, West Virginia has ranked last or next to last in construction employment. The ranking correlates with increased construction activity in highway and bridge, oil and gas, coal operations, manufacturing, as well as the multi-state pipeline projects. February figures showed the state had a 14.3 percent increase with 4,300 jobs added, March figures showed an 11.2 percent increase with 3,400 jobs, and April showed an increase of 11.6 percent with 3,500 jobs. Members can click the links to view the state employment data by rank, state and peak. View the state employment map.


Other economic indicators are also increasing in the state. Workforce West Virginia recently released employment numbers for the month of May, and the numbers are strong. Data released compares May 2018 with May 2017.  During that period, total employment rose by 6,000 jobs, while the civilian labor force grew by 9,700.  Here are some of the highlights of the report:


·         Total Nonfarm Payroll Employment is at 760,300 jobs - a net gain of 17,100 jobs

·         Total Employment is at 743,500 - net gain of 6,000

·         Mining & Logging is at 22,800 - net gain of 1,100

·         Manufacturing is at 47,100 - net gain of 500

·         Construction is at 33,900 - net gain of 3,400

·         Educational & Health Services is at 131,500 - net gain of 1,800


West virginia’s Future economic outlook topic of cawv annual meeting


With the increase in West Virginia’s construction employment and the state’s economy starting to rebound, the association wants to give members a better understanding of the state’s future economic outlook. In February, March, April, and now May, West Virginia lead the nation in the highest percent of new construction jobs over the last year. CAWV members attending the CAWV Annual Meeting, July 12-15 at The Greenbrier, will hear from Dr. John Deskins Ph.D., the Director of the Bureau of Business & Economic Research at West Virginia University. Dr. Deskins will be the keynote speaker at the Saturday morning General Business Session. Also added to the annual meeting program is West Virginia Transportation Secretary and Division of Highways Commissioner Tom Smith, who will speak at Saturday’s Highway/Heavy Division meeting following the General Business Session. The deadline to register for this year’s Annual Meeting is Monday, July 9, but we encourage members to register immediately as rooms are almost sold out. Members can obtain both meeting and room reservation forms online at




Construction costs accelerated again in May, with steep increases for a wide range of building and road materials, including many that are subject to tariffs that could drive prices still higher, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new Labor Department data. Association officials say that the construction industry will bear a heavy share of the tariffs’ costs. Prices jumped at double-digit annual rates for metals, lumber and plywood, and diesel fuel, while ready-mixed concrete, asphalt paving and roofing materials also had unusually large increases, according to AGC chief economist, Ken Simonson. “The cost of all goods used in construction rose 8.8 percent from May 2017 to May 2018, the steepest annual increase in nearly seven years,” said Simonson.


From May 2017 to May 2018, the producer price index jumped by 17.3 percent for aluminum mill shapes, 13.9 percent for lumber and plywood, 13.8 percent for copper and brass mill shapes and 10.5 percent for steel mill products. Other construction inputs that rose sharply in price from May 2017 to May 2018 include diesel fuel, 44.5 percent; asphalt felts and coatings, 8.9 percent; ready-mixed concrete, 6.5 percent; and paving mixtures and blocks, 5.2 percent.


The U.S. imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union on May 31. The impact from these tariffs is not reflected yet in the most recent data. Simonson says the increases far outstrip the 4.2 percent rise in the price index for new construction, and it implies that contractors are facing a severe squeeze on costs for both ongoing and new projects. He also indicated that the tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum since this data was collected in mid-May are likely to drive contractors’ costs still higher.


The producer price index for inputs to construction industries, goods—a measure of all materials used in construction projects including items consumed by contractors, such as concrete products—rose 2.2 percent in May alone and 8.8 percent over 12 months. The year-over-year increase was the steepest since July 2011, the economist noted.


Even before they have taken effect, construction officials said the tariffs have triggered a surge of orders that mills say exceeds their current capacity, a situation that threatens to produce construction delays, budget problems and possibly cancellations for future construction projects.


“Considering the impact the mere threat of tariffs have had on materials prices and demand, prices are likely to increase further as the new trade restrictions come online,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Forcing contractors to pay more for materials and wait longer to receive them will make construction more costly and slower.”


Members can click here to view the recent producer price indexes for construction. This week Senate Republicans blocked consideration of the AGC supported bipartisan legislation, see this week’s Building Bulletin for more information.




The CAWV strives to provide our members with important, up-to-date information. We are pleased to offer members the latest highway letting results along with our weekly Newsletter. A letting schedule is available on the CAWV Schedule of Events bulletin. The Asphalt Pavement Association of West Virginia, a division of CAWV, is pleased to host live internet broadcasts of West Virginia Department of Highways' public lettings, sponsored by Daniels Law Firm of Charleston. The lettings are available in webinar format (with video and audio) or by a call-in number. Click here to listen live. See the latest highway letting results attached to this week’s Highway / Heavy bulletin, or view online by clicking here.




Contractor members received last week an official ballot for election of officers and directors of the CAWV for 2018-2019. For each office, the nominee with the largest vote will be declared elected at the association's General Business Session at the Annual Meeting, July 12-15, at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs. CAWV Nominating Committee Chairman C.R. Neighborgall asks contractor members to mark and return their ballot to the CAWV office by July 7, 2018.




The CAWV is finalizing all member information for the upcoming Membership Directory and Buyers Guide. Members received by mail and email their listing for the upcoming directory. Please return your listing letter IMMEDIATELY, or verify your company information, as this is the last call for changes to be made. Members that do not respond will have their company information printed as is and will risk having incorrect information published in the directory. Please contact Cassidy Webb at (304) 342-1166 or email for more information.