Over the past several months, economic fundamentals have gradually strengthened. Employment gains, for example, averaged 145,000 per month since July – compared to an average of 67,000 jobs created per month during the preceding three months. Consumer sentiment has also recorded stronger to moderate monthly gains over the same period of time and now stand at pre-recession levels. The synergy between job gains and sentiment improvement are critical ingredients in the formula for stronger GDP growth in the future.

Cement consumption is up 10% through the third quarter. Comparisons against mild 2011 fourth quarter weather conditions is expected to result in an erosion in year-over-year growth rates – leaving year-end 2012 growth near 7.5%. If improvement in the underlying economic fundamentals is sustained, this year’s growth rate in cement consumption could be matched in 2013. For a copy of the complete PCA spring forecast, please contact the Portland Cement Association, karneson@cement.org.