By IMRE Research

The unemployment rate changed slightly to 7.3 percent in August, adding 169,000 jobs to payroll over the month. Job growth primarily occurred in the retail trade and healthcare sectors, specifically in clothing stores, food and beverage stores, and ambulatory care services. Employment also rose in professional and business services and wholesale trade, while employment decreased in information. Employment in other major industries such as construction, transportation and financial activities showed little or no change over the month.

The slight drop in the unemployment rate doesn’t necessarily reflect a healthy market though. The labor force participation rate dropped to a startling 63.2 percent in August. This number reflects the percentage of people over sixteen who are either employed or are actively searching for work. This rate has not been seen this low since 1978. The shrinking labor force could be attributed to baby boomers retiring but there are beliefs that the lack of good jobs is what is leading Americans to give up looking for work.
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By IMRE Research

The unemployment rate dropped slightly over the month from 7.6 in May and June to 7.4 percent in July, increasing payroll employment by 162,000 jobs. Some notable gains include the financial activities sector adding 15,000 jobs in July, with 6,000 of those positions in commodity contracts and investments. Over the year, the financial activities sector has added 120,000 jobs, while Healthcare has added an average of 16,000 jobs per month so far in 2013. It was a slow month for the manufacturing, transportation, and construction sectors, as these industries experienced little to no change in job growth over the month. However, the motor vehicles and parts sector added 9,000 jobs over the month. This is another good indication the economy is in recovery mode as automakers are enjoying the highest US sales since 2007.
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By Building Experts Team
home light automation iphone e1375373532997 Home Connectivity Caters to New Homebuyers

Photo courtesy of freshome.com.

As the housing market continues to grow, builders and realtors are faced with meeting the demands of the new generation of homebuyers. According to a 2013 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate survey of the 18-35 year old demographic, 84 percent believe technology is an absolute home essential and 64-percent would not live in a home that was not up-to-date with the latest tech capabilities.

Builders and home hardware manufacturers must find ways to cater to this generation that values technology over curb appeal and home automation over a newly renovated kitchen. These smart home systems have the stigma of being expensive luxury items, which may not succeed with this new audience. Instead, they should focus on what resonates with this group: technology, energy efficiency and convenience.

Smartphones should be at the center of this trend, providing an almost universal remote for users to control home functions such as temperature, lighting, blinds, door locks and more. As a generation that is constantly connected to their phones or tablets, controlling home systems through smartphones provides the ultimate convenience.
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What Contractors Are Saying

By Kyle Rubeling

Rob What Contractors Are SayingWe’ve been blitzed by the news the economy is improving and jobs are increasing, but are things really getting better? Reports tell us one thing, but what about speaking directly to the contractor? Wanting to hear it straight from the source, BuildIQ had the opportunity to sit down with Robert Robillard, principal of A Concord Carpenter, LLC and a leader in the tool and how-to information world to get his take on the economy, industry trends what lies ahead in the second half of 2013.

Q: You’re out working in the field everyday. Is the economy improving? What signs are you seeing? Is there reason for optimism?

A lot of clients are putting their projects on hold and work is getting scarce. Prices are dropping and trades are willing to do more for less. As an incentive to get things going, an architect friend offered my clients, family, and friends a reduction in his usual architectural fees to help jump start some projects.
Hopefully, people’s confidence in the economy will return soon and bring the construction industry around again. In this economy of bankruptcy and unemployment, it’s been very difficult finding new remodeling clients. It’s also not the time to sit back and wait for the phone to ring.
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By IMRE Research

Following several months of a roller coaster ride, consumer confidence rose again in May. The Consumer Confidence Index jumped more than 7 points to hit a five-year high of 76.2. As Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, noted, “Back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend,” following the impact of several policies that had left consumers feeling uneasy about the economy. The latest index showed consumers were positive about job prospects and the short-term outlook for the economy. Business conditions were expected to improve in the coming months by 19.2 percent of consumers, up two percent from the prior month. Those indicating they felt jobs are “plentiful” increased by more than one percent to 10.8 percent.
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By IMRE Research

The U.S. economy continued to move in a positive direction again this month, with several key indicators posting gains. The greatest excitement was seen with the announcement that April’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.5 percent with the addition of 165,000 jobs. Professional and business services, food services, retail and healthcare all saw positive gains for the month, while hiring in the construction industry held steady. Additionally, employment numbers for both February and March were upwardly revised by a combined total of 114,000 jobs above the initial estimates. Even more telling that the economy is continuing to rebound is the fact that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment fell to its lowest level in five years. A total of 323,000 people filed first-time unemployment claims during the first week of May, down significantly from a March 2009 high of 670,000 claims.
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By Building Experts Team

Shawn Draper 1 Tropical Forest Foundation Elects Shawn Draper as New Board ChairThe Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) today announced the election of Shawn Draper, partner and president of the Home & Building division at IMRE, as its new Chair of the Board of Directors. Draper joined the TFF Board in 2010 and the Executive Committee in 2011. He replaces John Carpenter, who joined the Executive Committee in 2008 and became Chair in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

By Matt Bivons

The app economy is booming. Actually, booming may be an understatement; it’s exploding. The mobile app ecosystem is poised to continue an exponential growth rate for the unforeseeable future. According to the App Developers Alliance “The market for mobile apps is growing, and growing fast. Innovation and strong businesses are driving that growth but we are all benefiting from it. Better apps, better services and more opportunity for businesses to thrive is good for us all.”
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By IMRE Research

As sequestration took effect on March 1 and government spending cuts of more than $85 billion began to kick in, consumer confidence fell almost 10 points to 59.7 for the month. The drop virtually erased the gain seen in February after consumers quickly adjusted to a payroll tax increase levied at the start of the year. Consumers’ outlook on the present conditions, the jobs market and overall business conditions were down sharply in March, in large part due to sequestration.
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Celebrating Architecture

By Guest

Tis the season for me to wish all of you a joyous and happy National Architecture Week! Yes, April 7-13 is a special time of year we reach out to the industry and the public to join us at the AIA as we celebrate architects and the places they create for us to live, work and play in our communities.

During this week, always held the second week in April to coincide with the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s only architect-president (born April 12th), there are nationwide online and offline events, exhibits, lectures, tours, award ceremonies and contests that seek to heighten our awareness of the powerful impact that architecture has on our overall quality of life. You should check out the web site of your local AIA chapter for happenings in your community.
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