Highlighting some good economic news

It seems like all we've been hearing on the economic front is bad news on the verge of panic: debt crises that threaten to unravel the worldwide economy, legislative standstills that create plummeting consumer confidence, and a stock market that seems to be in free fall two or three days every week. So, I thought I would use my vast power as a member of the, let's call it "trade-stream media," to share some of the good news that we've been hearing about the overall economy and construction market.

For example, did you know that the commerce department revised its GDP growth numbers upward last week? Or that U.S. manufacturing (and the overall U.S. economy) grew in September?

Additionally, I had the pleasure of hearing two economists speak during September about their economic forecasts, focusing on construction: Jeff Dietrich, senior analyst, Institute for Trend Research, Concord, N.H., who spoke Sept. 12 during the 6th annual Glazing Executives Forum, part of GlassBuild America in Atlanta, and Esmael Adibi, director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research and Anderson Chair of Economic Analysis, Claremont Graduate University, Sept. 26, at the 2011 American Architectural Manufacturers Association National Fall Conference. The forecasts were quite similar, especially when addressing fears of a double-dip recession. Adibi started off his presentation, in fact, by announcing: "We don't see a double dip." Dietrich agreed. "That's not our forecast. We think this economy is resilient enough," he said.

Both Dietrich and Adibi said the U.S. economy is growing. It's just growing slowly—too slowly to make much of a dent in the huge drop in employment and GDP. Read Glass Magazine coverage of Dietrich's forecast and Adibi's forecast.

The construction sector (finally) saw some gains in the last couple of months. The Architectural Billings Index experienced an upturn in August. Nonresidential construction starts were up 19 percent in August, compared to July, and overall construction spending edged up in July. And while 25 states and D.C. experienced construction employment declines in August compared to July, 26 states and D.C. have added construction jobs during the past 12 months, according to a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America.

I’m certainly not blind to the threats and vast challenges still facing the economy and construction industry. However, I think we all might need a brief breather from all the bad news.

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

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