Quarterly Construction Report

The Carter Machinery Quarterly Construction Report focuses on construction industry data for the Southeast United States

Carter Machinery Quarterly Construction Report

Second Quarter 2013

Current Status of US Economy & Construction Market

In the first quarter of 2013, the U.S. economy accelerated at a rate of 1.1% as measured by an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the fourth quarter 2012 [U.S. Census Bureau]. Government spending fell, as it did in the fourth quarter of 2012, but the economy rebounded this year as consumer spending leaping to an annual rate of 2.3 in Q1.

In the second quarter, the economy gained further momentum, with a 2.5% increase in GDP. Although overall consumer spending decreased slightly in Q2 to 1.8%, real disposable income increased substantially—a 3.4% growth over Q1, compared to the 8.2% decrease in the first quarter.

Home construction was one of the largest contributors to consumer spending, which had the biggest jump seen since the end of 2010. Real residential fixed investment increased from 12.5% in Q1 to 13.4% in Q2. Home prices are also rising again, too – they are growing at the fastest rate seen in six years due to higher demand from buyers. Despite a 0.4% decline in pending home sales in June 2013, contracts to purchase new homes reached a record level in May of 2013, according to the National Association of REALTORS, indicating that the housing market in general is rebounding and healthy.

Edie Ousley, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, commented on the growing housing market: “The numbers keep rolling in, and it continues to look good for Florida’s economic prospects. On the heels of positive reports on consumer confidence and median home prices, Florida has more optimism with significant rebounding in residential construction. This building permit data is a leading indicator to help predict future changes in statewide economic activity.”

Thanks to the recovery of the housing market, overall construction spending on the US has risen due to the highest level of home building taking place in more than four years as of February 2012. Overall construction spending in Q2 2013 increased 2.2% over previous quarter, and total private residential construction spending (valuation) increased 3.3%. FMI, a company that provides consulting for the construction industry, reported a 23% rise in single-family buildings during the second quarter, and forecasts the construction market to grow 8% in 2014 between rapid residential construction and nonresidential construction.

In the Southern* region of the United States in particular, new private residential construction increased 6.6% in Q2 over Q1, as measured by the total number of units authorized.

Representatives of these regions have noticed this growth firsthand. Craig Richard, CEO of Greater Louisville, the metro chamber of commerce, noted the progress made in Kentucky in the last year: "The Louisville region is seeing progress in its construction and building sectors as the overall economy continues to show signs of improvement. Residential development has rebounded with a nearly 50 percent increase year over year, which has increased opportunities for engineering, architecture and planning firms, and smaller construction-related businesses. Commercial construction is on the rise and will be boosted by the Ohio River Bridges Project and the construction of a new LG&E facility. Retail and office construction activity continues to lag behind, but we anticipate some growth in this area in the remainder of 2013."

This trend of the recovering economy is evidenced by the higher Q2 numbers posted by the top performing counties in each state in the Southeast, as provided below.


Carter Machinery researched available construction building permit data on new privately-owned residential housing, with the goal of discovering which southeastern states of the U.S. have grown and decreased their building needs from April through June 2013.

Data was collected from the United States Census Bureau at the end of July 2013. All information for counties in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida was gathered up through the data made available by the government.

Researchers then used the information to sort the data based on buildings and unit permits issued, as well as the overall value of all permits issued. Counties were then ultimately ranked based solely on value of permits issued for the second quarter of 2013 for this report.

Results of the Data

For each state, counties are ranked based on the data available for the total value in US Dollars (seasonally adjusted rate) of the permits issued for April through June 2013.


Alabama top construction counties In Alabama, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Jefferson County - $93,416,695
  2. Lee County - $51,814,111
  3. Shelby County - $47,319,895
  4. Autauga County - $10,749,640
  5. St. Clair County - $3,413,093

Jefferson County is the most populous county in Alabama and it holds the county seat, which is located in Birmingham. The county was named after Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, and it hosts such highlights as the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the Birmingham Zoo, and events like the Southern Heritage Festival.


Florida top construction counties In Florida, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Hillsborough County - $618,217,877
  2. Miami-Dade County - $468,734,098
  3. Orange County - $417,129,659
  4. Palm Beach County - $309,584,259
  5. Sumter County - $285,644,855

Hillsborough County is home to Tampa, the largest city in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, collectively called the Tampa Bay Area. Over 2.9 million people reside in the Tampa Bay area, while many more come to visit as tourists, especially during the winter months. Tampa home sales continue to climb in the thriving Florida housing market, and the city experienced its busiest sales month in the last seven years in May.


Georgia top construction counties In Georgia, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Fulton County - $469,140,679
  2. Gwinett County - $186,846,953
  3. Cobb County - $154,132,949
  4. Forsyth County - $105,350,533
  5. Cherokee County - $103,137,298

Fulton County is where Atlanta, the state capital, has been located since 1868. 90% of Atlanta lies within Fulton County while the other 10% lies in DeKalb County, not featured on the top five gross performers list.

Fulton is the most populous county in the state of Georgia and it is home to the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta and the centennial Olympic Park. All of the top five gross performers in Georgia are very closely located to Fulton County.


Kentucky top construction counties In Kentucky, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Jefferson County - $82,597,755
  2. Fayette County - $58,794,707
  3. Boone County - $20,552,121
  4. Scott County - $15,428,357
  5. Bullitt County - $14,957,795

Jefferson County is the most popular county in Kentucky and it is home to Louisville, the largest city in the state. Attractions include the Kentucky Derby, the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Speed Art Museum.

In the first decade of 2000, Louisville experienced one of the fastest population growth rates at 120 percent. This has led to Jefferson’s strong construction numbers and high value permits.


Mississippi top construction counties In Mississippi, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. DeSoto County - $35,524,511
  2. Lafayette County - $10,618,115
  3. Marshall County - $7,544,326
  4. Tate County - $1,913,300
  5. Tunica County - $1,035,920

DeSoto County is part of the Metropolitan Memphis area – it’s the third most populous county in the state and the second most populous county in metro Memphis, since it’s directly adjacent to Memphis, TN. DeSoto is known for its golf courses, antique shopping, museums and historic activities.

Currently, DeSoto County is among the forty fastest-growing counties in the US thanks to people relocating from Memphis, as well as the massive casino complex in neighboring Tunica County.

North Carolina

North Carolina top construction counties In North Carolina, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Wake County - $466,246,69
  2. Mecklenburg County - $309,791,789
  3. Durham County - $100,415,186
  4. Guilford County - $99,810,310
  5. New Hanover County - $86,825,680

Wake County is home to the capital city Raleigh, NC, and constitutes part of the Research Triangle area, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, and outlying suburbs. Along with the banking industry in Charlotte (Mecklenburg County), the Research Triangle bolsters North Carolina’s economy through technological research and development, providing many job opportunities for the state.

According to the US Census Bureau, Wake County, Mecklenburg County, and Durham County are three of the 100 fastest growing counties with 10,000 or more people, as of July 2012.

South Carolina

South Carolina top construction countiesIn South Carolina, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Charleston County - $140,522,797
  2. Greenville County - $139,367,570
  3. York County - $135,055,617
  4. Lexington County - $88,030,335
  5. Berkeley County - $78,007,561

Charleston County is the third most populous county in the state of South Carolina, behind Greenville and Richland counties, and it is home to Charleston, the oldest and second-largest city in the state.

Charleston has many historic buildings, art and historical museums. 


Tennessee top construction countiesIn Tennessee, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Davidson County - $182,615,010
  2. Williamson County - $114,533,257
  3. Rutherford County - $113,011,174
  4. Wilson County - $72,997,615
  5. Shelby County - $71,599,086

Davidson County holds the county seat city of Nashville, and is part of the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area. Nashville, nicknamed the “Music City,” is known for its many music festivals, which draw thousands of country music fans from the southern and northern states alike.


Virginia top construction countiesIn Virginia, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Loudoun County - $276,171,734
  2. Arlington County - $83,834,000
  3. Prince William County - $82,502,660
  4. Stafford County - $65,332,822
  5. Chesterfield County - $56,488,585

Loudoun County is a part of the Washington Metropolitan area and it is home to the Washington Dulles International Airport. 

As of 2011, it has the highest median household income for all counties in the United States. Fairfax County and Arlington County are second and third, respectively, so there will always be more advanced construction projects for residential communities taking place in that area of Virginia.

West Virginia

West Virginia top construction countiesIn West Virginia, the top five gross performers for the second quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Jefferson County - $23,389,066
  2. Berkeley County - $10,790,885
  3. Raleigh County - $8,363,000
  4. Putnam County - $5,801,446
  5. Wood County - $2,737,514

Jefferson County is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area and its county seat is Charles Town. The county was named for Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States – Virginia previously had a Jefferson County, which it lost to Kentucky. 

Berkeley County is located in the eastern part of the state, adjacent to the Washington DC area. Two major interstate highways run through Berkeley County—I-81 (north/south) and I-70 (east/west), providing good infrastructure for commerce between Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

According to city-data.com, Berkeley County boasts a relatively low cost of living index of 86.3 (100 = national average) as of March 2012.

Entire Southeast

For the entirety of the Southeast (for the sake of this report, the Southeast is defined as consisting of the following states: Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, South Carolina and North Carolina), the top ten gross performers across the ten states for the first quarter of 2013 were:

  1. Hillsborough County, FL - $618,217,877
  2. Fulton County, GA - $469,140,679
  3. Miami-Dade County, FL - $468,734,098
  4. Wake County, NC - $466,246,679
  5. Orange County, FL - $417,129,659
  6. Mecklenburg County, NC - $309,791,789
  7. Palm Beach County, FL - $309,584,259
  8. Sumter County, FL - $285,644,855
  9. Loudoun County, VA - $276,171,734
  10. Gwinnett County, GA - $186,846,953

Overall, Florida was the single state that spent the most on building permits for the second quarter of 2013.

Note that not all counties submitted consistent data for their building permits and units issued and the value of the permits for the second quarter of 2013. West Virginia was the single state that spent the least and had the fewest number of permits issued for the second quarter of 2013. West Virginia, however, also had the lowest number of counties report data to the United States Census Bureau.

*The US Census Bureau defines the Southern states as: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Contact Information

Questions regarding the methodology or content within should be directed to ryan@carterresearch.org.

Carter Machinery is not responsible for errors/omissions in the data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau or any other third party.