Looking Good Up Ahead

There is good economic news, when it comes to the cement industry.

At the 38th International Cement Seminar & Exhibition (ICSE) – produced by SEMCO Publishing, the owner of Rock Products, Cement Americas, Concrete Products and The Asia Miner magazines – the Keynote Address, was delivered by Edward Sullivan, senior vice president and chief economist, Portland Cement Association

“I did my first-ever forecast at a previous version of this show 18 years ago in Chicago,” Sullivan said. “It’s good to have the show back.”

Sullivan warned attendees not to listen to dire warnings of a recession that some economists are trumpeting. While he maintains the economy may be slowing there are too many signals that point to stability and expansion, such as the coming economic impact of millennials and future population growth.

“Recessions typically occur because imbalances materialize, and there is a sectoral retreat in response to these excesses,” Sullivan said. “Nothing lies on the near-term horizon that seems particularly threatening.”

Sullivan also expanded on his fall Cement Forecast, which calls for cement consumption increases of 2.3% in 2019, 1.7% in 2020, 1.3% in 2021, 1.7% in 2022, 2.6% in 2023, and 2.7% in 2024.

In announcing his fall forecast prior to the show, Sullivan said, “Public construction continues to receive the benefit of the 2018 federal budget that allowed for $20 billion in spending on roads, bridges, water and rail projects over 2018 and 2019. These gains come in the context of increased challenges at the state level to manage deficits as entitlement spending growth continues at a strong pace.”

PCA’s analysis adds that the labor market continues to power the United States economy. Coupled with mild inflation rates and the continued rise of home prices, it will take some time before the economy takes a significant downturn.

At press time, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that total shipments of portland and blended cement, including imports, in the United States and Puerto Rico in September 2019 were 9.4 million metric tons (Mt), an increase of 13% from shipments in September 2018. Shipments for the year through September totaled 76.3 Mt, an increase of 3.6% from those for the same period in 2018. 

The leading producing states for portland and blended cement in September 2019 were, in descending order, Texas, Missouri, California, Florida and Michigan, these states accounted for 41% of cement produced. 

All good news. Let’s keep the momentum going.

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