Results of the NRCI include:
Hiring: A five percentage points increase over this time last year, 42 percent of panelists indicated a zero to five percent increase in full-time direct employees. Additionally, fewer panelists indicated a reduction in salaried employees.
Construction Put In Place: Expectations for construction put in place are positive but cautious, as 41.3 percent of panelists expect growth of 0.5 to 2.5 percent for 2012.
Overall Economy: The component for the overall economy showed the strongest improvement of all index components with a jump from 43.6 last quarter to 68.7 in the first quarter, a 25 point gain. This score reflects the improvement in many economic indicators including the unemployment rate.
Nonresidential Building Construction Market Where Panelists Do Business: At just 54.9, the local markets for nonresidential construction are inching ahead. However, panelist responses reflect a perception that their own business is performing a bit better than the overall nonresidential construction market. This indicates that local markets are still very competitive.
Cost of Materials: Despite a slow economy, material costs continue to rise, with no panelists indicating material costs were lower than last quarter. The cost of materials component moved down nearly 5 points to 26.2. This factor is a continuing drag on the overall index and is likely to raise the cost of projects while lowering profit margins for contractors.
Cost of Labor: The cost of labor improved just slightly to 41.5, indicating little change over the score of 40.0 last quarter. However, no panelists indicated they were experiencing lower labor costs.
Productivity: Contractors are continuing to make moderate gains in productivity. However, at 52.9, this component is still too weak to offset rising costs for labor and materials.
For a copy of the full report, go to www.fminet.com/resources.
Publication date: 02/27/2012