U.S. construction sectors propelling 8% cement growth for 2014

By Lindsey Anderson22 January 2014

Ed Sullivan, PCA chief economist, speaks at World of Concrete 2014.

Ed Sullivan, PCA chief economist, speaks at World of Concrete 2014.

With U.S. residential, non-residential and public construction sectors “all beating positive,” PCA chief economist Ed Sullivan said cement consumption will grow 8 percent in 2014.

Speaking at World of Concrete 2014 in Las Vegas, Sullivan said his forecast is based upon the loosening of credit availability, steady and increasing job creation and decreasing consumer debt burdens.

“At no time in our history has there been this level of pent up demand,” Sullivan said.

According to Sullivan, non-residential and residential will continue upward gains for the next three years, with new housing starts seeing the most activity due to old properties no longer being a market strength. “Housing affordability levels are still extremely favorable and mortgage lending standards are starting to ease,” Sullivan said. “Housing starts increased 18 percent last year and will be 18 percent this year, plus double digit gains will continue through 2015. Even with all that growth, we’re not near our previous levels.”

Sullivan forecasts gains in housing from now through 2018, where the market will finally rest at 80 percent recovery from 2009’s levels. However, the gains will not always be monumental. “We will not get back to our historical averages, in fact we might never get back to where we are 10 years ago, but there will be increases.”

Also for 2014, Sullivan said public construction will ramp up – but not entirely from the federal level. State and local governments, Sullivan said, will start to pay attention to neglected areas such as roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Lastly, PCA also said it no longer will be known as the full Portland Cement Association moniker. “There was confusion in the market among those unfamiliar with the industry as to what ‘Portland’ referred to, and many thought we were a regional organization,” said Gregory Scott, president and CEO of PCA. The organization will be known as “PCA,” with the tagline “America’s Cement Manufacturers.”

Portland cement is one of the most common types of cement in general use around the world and is used as a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar, stucco, and most non-specialty grout.

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