The rate of decline in the construction industry showed signs of slowing in North Carolina and South Carolina last quarter, which may be cold comfort to the construction equipment and related industries there, according to the Carolinas AGC Construction Barometer.
Contractors reported a small increase in highway and utility project activity while private sector work-in-process is holding steady where developers can obtain financing to continue work. Contractors expressed optimism that the worst of the recession has passed, the report said.
The Carolinas' construction labor market also reflects a slowing rate of deterioration, with little change in the number of new positions anticipated by contractors, stable wage rates and a constant rate of construction unemployment.
In the financing arena, the downward movement of business activity, with stable interest rates, a steady level of financing activity compared with last quarter and unchanged lender attitudes also reflect a slow-down in the market's decline.
"The Barometer's quantitative indicators aren't falling nearly as fast as in 2008, but we're still at rock-bottom levels of business activity compared with the last ten years," the report said.
With materials costs continuing to fall on slow demand, falling contractor orders for construction equipment and other capital purchases and flat federal spending on highway construction, indicators point to continued weakness in the sector.