Volume 33, Number 4, April 1998


In this regular feature, USGlass evaluates industry trends for the coming months. Information is gathered from various sources, including confidential industry interviews and reporting by USGlass.

by Leslie Shaver

Past 30 Days

All regions except the West Coast and Midwest posted positive numbers in March. The Eastern regions of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast posted the strongest gains, with the Lower Plains also posting good numbers. The Southeast and Rocky Mountain regions improved slightly over the previous month.

Next 30 Days

Glass businesses in the East Coast expect next month to be strong with the Norheast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast areas predicting gains of five percent or more. The Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast expect especially strong figures, with ten-percent increases anticipated by both regions. The Lower Plains also expects a strong month, reporting a possible increase of five percent for the month. The Rocky Mountain, West Coast and Midwest regions expect stable business.

Privately Owned Housing Units Started

The number of new housing units declined slightly in January from 1,538 in December to 1,534 in January. However the numbers do represent an improvement over the January 1997 figure of 1,394 and also mark the fifth consecutive month the housing units started have been more than 1,500.

Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate Thousands of Units
1996February 1,514 1997 February1,547
March 1,439 March 1,477
April 1,511 April 1,480
May 1,478 May 1,404
June 1,490 June 1,502
July 1,470 July 1,461
August 1,533 August 1,383
September 1,461 September 1,501
October 1,385 October 1,529
November 1,486 November 1,523
December 1,353 December 1,538
1997January 1,394 1998 January (p)1,534

Average relative standard error 2% (p=preliminary) Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

Construction Contract Values

Contracting for total construction from December to January dropped from $340,620 to $330,212, according to F.W. Dodge, a unit of the McGraw-Hill Construction Information Group. Nonresidential building, residential building and nonbuilding construction all dropped off in January.

Monthly Contracts

Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rates, In Millions

December,January,% Change
1997 1998
Nonresidential Building$116,652$112,705-3
Residential Building$154,084$148,469-4
Nonbuilding Construction$69,884$69,038-1
Total Construction$340,620$330,212-3

Source: F.W. Dodge Division, The McGraw-Hill Companies

Total construction in the first month of 1998 fell off drastically from the first month of 1997, according to F. W. Dodge. Nonresidential building dropped six percent, while residential building and nonbuilding construction also declined.

Year-To-Date Contracts

Unadjusted Totals, In Millions

1 Month,1 Month,% Change
1997 1998
Nonresidential Building $8,973 $8,068 -10
Residential Building $9,595 $9,247 -4
Nonbuilding Construction $64,837 $67,648 -2
Total Construction $22,971 $21,635 -6

Source: F.W. Dodge Division, The McGraw-Hill Companies


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