The following report is from Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America.

Housing starts and building permits rebounded in April 2005, the Census Bureau reported. Housing starts increased 11% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate overall, 6% for single-unit starts, and 35% for multi-unit starts. Both types of starts were up 5% in the first four months of 2005 compared to the same months of 2004. Permits, a reliable indicator of near-term construction, rose 5% for both single- and multi-unit housing. Compared to January-April 2004, single-unit permits in the first four months of 2005 were level and multi-unit permits were up 10%.

"The hotel industry will start construction on more rooms this year than in any year since 2000," the Wall Street Journal reported on May 17, citing a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers that projected a 21.5% rise in room starts to 98,000 rooms. "Developers are disproportionately breaking ground on (high-end hotels, which make up) 22.5% of current room supply but 30.5% of the rooms starting construction this year."

"Lifestyle centers," open-air shopping centers that are smaller than malls, more upscale than strip malls, and lack department-store anchors, are a hot retail construction category, the Journal reported the next day. "There are 132 lifestyle centers open in the U.S. with 42 more in the pipeline, according to a survey by Colliers International, a commercial real-estate services firm. By contrast, few if any enclosed malls are being built. The lifestyle centers in development will average 500,000 square feet, about a third bigger than the ones already built, according to Colliers. The centers are concentrated in the South and West where weather is warmer, but Colliers reports that two-thirds of the ones in development are in the Northeast and Midwest."

Mixed reports appeared regarding manufacturing. The Federal Reserve Board reported that the industrial production index for manufacturing was unchanged in April, seasonally adjusted, after falling 0.3% in March (revised from an initial estimate of -0.1%) and rising 0.5% in February (revised from 0.3%). Over the past 12 months, overall manufacturing production rose 3.5%, but output of consumer goods was up just 1.4%, while business supplies climbed 8.4%.