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Construction Indicators

Economic drivers relating to the construction industry

Construction Indicators DefInitions

Building Permits (Res And Non-Res): This variable measures the number of permits issued for housing units (single-family home or apartment) authorized for construction. Because permits generally precede construction, they are considered a leading indicator for the residential construction industry and the overall economy. Most of the construction begins the same month the permit is issued. The remainder usually begins construction during the next three months.

Building permit data for the United States, states, metropolitan areas and counties are released monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau. These data are available for both single-family and multifamily construction. However, month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted permit data are quite volatile, and the Census Bureau suggests it may take four months to establish an underlying trend in permit authorizations. 

Data Sources:  State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT)  
Link: Monthly Economic Indicators (MEI)

Government Contracts Awarded: This variable reports the total value of government construction contracts awarded by the State government as reported by the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS).  This is the public sector counterpart to private building permits, and is likewise considered a leading indicator of construction activity.  New data in this series is published as part of the DBEDT Quarterly Statistical and Economic Report (QSER) about a month and a half after the end of the quarter being reported.

Data Sources:  State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT)  
Link: Quarterly Statistical & Economic Report (QSER)
Link: Construction Section

Construction Employment – BLS/DLIR-HIWI: Monthly construction job counts are published at both the State and County levels by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR).  These estimates are based on the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey of employers, which asks a sample of business establishments each month how many workers were on their payroll (either part time or full time).  

Construction Cost Index: DBEDT reports two construction cost indexes each quarter in its QSER tables: one for a “single-family residence of about 1300 square feet with a concrete slab floor,” and a second index for a “high-rise condominium or office-type structure.”  The indexes “are designed to measure costs to contractors of typical building materials and public-contract labor.  However, they do not include the costs of contract overhead and profit, site preparation, utilities-installation, and overtime labor.”  Initially produced by an industry publication in 1947, the series was later adopted by First Hawaiian Bank and continued by DBEDT when FHB closed its Research Department in 1997.

Data Sources:  State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT)  
Link: Quarterly Statistical & Economic Report (QSER) - Worksheets E6 and E7
Link: Construction Section