WASHINGTON, March 19—Associated Builders and Contractors reported today that its Construction Backlog Indicator contracted to 8.1 months during January 2019, down 0.8 months or 9.3 percent compared to the fourth quarter 2018 reading of 8.9 months.
“This represents the latest in a number of indicators suggesting that U.S. economic momentum has begun to wane,” said Anirban Basu, ABC’s chief economist. “Other data tracking retail sales, employment growth and the trade deficit suggest that in contrast to 2018, this year will not be as strong from an economic growth perspective.
“January’s decline in nonresidential backlog was significant, slipping to levels last observed in 2014,” said Basu. “From an industry segment perspective, the decline in backlog was especially sharp in the infrastructure category, which may have been related to the federal shutdown in January.
“There was one meaningful exception in the Middle States, where backlog continues to rise,” said Basu. “This is potentially a result of stronger industrial production growth in 2017 and 2018, which has produced greater demand for modern industrial space. As with any January data release, weather may also have played a role in shaping the results. Accordingly, more clarity regarding contractual activity will arrive during the months ahead.”
[Editor’s note: ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator will be reported monthly beginning with January 2019 data. This is the first monthly CBI release.]