Data recently released by the United States Geological Service shows 88,251 tons of cement were shipped to the state during the month of February 2021. Cement shipments grew by 5.84% over the same period in 2020 but declined by nearly 15% from January’s totals.
Looking to ready mix volumes, we estimate 326,793 cubic yards of concrete were placed during the month. The yardage was 19,000 cubic yards greater than 2020, but last year was a historically wet February across the state.
Turning to home construction data, the 6,173 home starts through April is eclipsing the 2020 total of 5,116 by over 20%. Birmingham is outpacing 2020 by 35%. Dothan and the Shoals area are 50% above the 2020 totals. Residential construction remains a bright spot across the state, but we are concerned about inflation of construction materials, most notably wood slowing the market. A large homebuilder in the state recently noted their wood package had tripled from $17,000 to $50,000 on a 2,200 square foot home. One positive from the wood price spike is a growing interest in ICF that historically was more expensive than light-frame construction.
In the commercial market, conversations with architects and engineers point to continued strength in the sector. Many firms are adding new people, which points to evidence of confidence. The AIA billing index for April was 57.9. This represents a 4% increase over the March index of 55.6. Any number over 50 forecasts growth for the sector.
If you have any questions about this report, please contact our office.