Construction spending is not just setting records in Beckley, it is setting records nationally.

“Construction spending in December set a record for the sixth straight month,” according to Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

He was commenting on new Census Bureau figures that showed the value of construction reached $1.16 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 1.0 percent from November and 8.1 percent from December 2004. Spending in 2005 as a whole totaled $1.12 billion, an increase of 8.9 percent from 2004, according to the Census Bureau report.

“As was the case for most of the year, growth was well distributed among the major construction segments,” Simonson said. “Comparing December 2005 to December 2004, public construction grew 10 percent, private residential construction rose nine percent, and private nonresidential was up six percent. For the year, those categories increased 8, 11 and 8 percent, respectively.

“Both single- and multi-family construction increased in December despite bad weather in some regions and fears that housing had finally begun to turn down,” Simonson noted. “Compared to November, the two segments were up 0.2 and 1.0 percent, respectively. That was consistent with the full-year totals, which were respectively 14 and 20 percent higher than in 2004.

Simonson said the biggest public category, highway and street construction, dipped in December.

“Perhaps because of weather, but finished the year 11 percent ahead of the total for 2004,” Simonson added. “However, this total was distorted by the very large increase in costs for concrete, asphalt and diesel fuel. Those costs are likely to drain federal and state highway trust funds at a rapid rate in 2006.”

The best-performing private nonresidential segment in 2005 was manufacturing construction, with a 21 percent year-over-year gain.

“I expect another strong year in 2006,” Simonson said. “Wednesday’s report on manufacturing from the Institute for Supply Management adds to my belief that more companies will opt to build or expand plants.”

Simonson concluded, “I hope the Commerce Department will shortly announce a definitive resolution of the anti-dumping duty on Mexican cement. If more cement can be brought in from Mexico, there should be fewer project delays in 2006 than last year, when cement shortages hampered construction in 32 states, including West Virginia.”

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) represents more than 32,000 firms, including 7,000 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 11,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC through a nationwide network of chapters.

For more information, visit the AGC Web site at


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