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The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that new housing starts weakened again in May, dropping for the third straight month. New residential construction fell from an annualized 1,156,000 in April to 1,092,000 in May, its lowest level since September. Since reaching 1,288,000 units in February, housing starts have pulled back considerably. This report was disappointing, especially since it was expected to rise to exceed 1.2 million again. Perhaps we will see a rebound in the summer months. For their part, the home builder optimism remains strong, with respondents to that survey predicting healthy gains in activity over the next six months. I am also predicting a bounce back in my forecast, which is for 1.25 million starts by year’s end.

Looking at the May data, single-family (down from 826,000 to 794,000) and multifamily (down from 330,000 to 298,000) starts each slipped in the month, each of which was an eight-month low. Starts were sharply lower in the Midwest and the South, unchanged in the Northeast, and marginally higher in the West. On a year-over-year basis, housing starts were off 2.4 percent from May 2016’s pace of 1,119,000. Yet, that mainly reflects a huge drop in multifamily activity, down 23.0 percent. Note that multifamily starts can often be quite volatile from month-to-month. In contrast, single-family starts have risen 8.5 percent, suggesting a better longer-term trend than the headline figures might seem to indicate.

Meanwhile, housing permits were also lower, down from 1,228,000 to 1,168,000 in this release. This ended nine consecutive months with permits exceeding 1.2 million units, and May’s pace was a 13-month low. Much like the starts data described above, these results are disappointing, particularly since permits are proxy of future activity. Single-family (down from 794,000 to 779,000) and multifamily (down from 434,000 to 389,000) permitting were both off for the month. Overall, new residential construction permits were down 0.9 percent since May 2016, off from 1,178,000 units last year. Nonetheless, single-family permits were up 6.0 percent year-over-year, with multifamily activity down 12.2 percent.

The post Housing Starts Weakened Again in May, Dropping for the Third Straight Month appeared first on Shopfloor.

Manufacturers support efforts to achieve normal trade relations with Cuba and to share with the Cuban people the values that make, and keep, America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity. While today’s announcement will add some hurdles for Americans interested in trade and travel to Cuba, manufacturers appreciate the president’s acknowledgment that our commercial and diplomatic engagement can support the ambitions of the Cuban people. We look forward to expanding investment and opportunity in Cuba.

Isolating the Cuban people has not yielded a new day for freedom and democracy in the island nation just miles from our shores. But eased restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. manufacturing exports to the Cuban private sector has made it simpler for Americans to engage with Cuban citizens, as it did when a group of National Association of Manufacturers leaders traveled to Cuba recently, and to support the growth of private enterprise in Cuba. We saw, in even a short time, the potential for normalized diplomatic relations not only to create economic benefits in both nations but also to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba and its people.

Most important in the near term is the strategic value of rapprochement with Cuba, to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in the region. During our visit, for example, a Russian oil tanker with 249,000 barrels of refined product arrived in Cuba for the first time this century. It brought back memories of when the Soviet Union supplied all of the communist country’s needs. Instead of allowing the hand of friendship to come from communist governments and those with a different set of values, we can demonstrate the strength of democratic values and the free market system through a robust trading partnership.

We look forward to the day, as much as anyone, when the Castro regime ends. But ultimately real change will only happen when the Cuban people can take charge of their own destinies and entrepreneurs can create their own opportunities.

Faces of Cuba

The post Manufacturers on the President’s Cuba Announcement appeared first on Shopfloor.

The House this week, by voice vote, approved the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2017 (H.R. 1393) that clarifies and simplifies the ability of states to tax non-resident employees. The legislation—which sets a bright line test for when states can tax income earned by nonresident workers—has been approved by the House in earlier Congresses but has yet to pass the Senate.

Many manufacturers have employees who travel outside their home states as part of their job. Unfortunately, these out-of-state assignments sometimes result in an arbitrary compliance burden and tax liability for both employees and employers. In particular, employees are required to track and comply with various tax filing requirements while employers are required to maintain records and withhold state income taxes for these employees. This is particularly onerous for small and medium-sized manufacturers that do not have in-house tax departments. Clarifying the ability of states to tax mobile workforces will free up resources for employers to use in their business and leave more money in the paychecks of their employees.

Now that the House has—once more—supported this common-sense legislation, the NAM urges the Senate to follow suit and pass H.R. 1393.

The post Once Again, the House Approves a Measure to Simplify State Taxation of Non-resident Workers appeared first on Shopfloor.

During the 2017 Manufacturing Summit, manufacturers of all sizes from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., for a two-day event, to bring their shop floors to the nation’s capital and to meet with members of Congress and the administration to advance the policies critical to a robust manufacturing economy.

With hundreds of Manufacturers  in attendance and a leading lineup of speakers, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons referred to the 2017 Manufacturing Summit as a Summit “Like none other before it,” and characterized the moment as unique, calling it “Manufacturing’s Moment!”

Manufacturers heard from Vice President Mike Pence who kicked off the event and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who delivered his first major speech on tax. The event closed out with remarks from Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, before Manufacturers descended on Capitol Hill for their final day, to highlight manufacturing’s top priorities.

Photos and a live stream of the events can be seen below.2017 Manufacturing Summit

The post 2017 Manufacturing Summit: Manufacturing’s Moment! appeared first on Shopfloor.

The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded for the seventh straight month and continued to expand at a modest pace in June. The composite index of general business conditions increased from 8 in May to 11 in June, its highest reading since March’s six-year high (20). In general, manufacturers report notable improvements in activity relative to this time last year, even as sentiment has pulled back somewhat from stronger numbers at the beginning of 2017. Encouragingly, several of the key indices in May shifted strongly higher, including shipments (up from 3 to 23), production (up from -1 to 23), employment (up from 11 to 15) and the average workweek (up from 1 to 7). A couple of the sample comments cited difficulties in hiring new workers. On the other hand, new orders (down from 9 to 4) and export orders (down from 4 to 3) slowed a little in this report but remained positive indicators.

Meanwhile, manufacturers continued to be optimistic about the next six months, albeit with some easing from the prior survey. The forward-looking composite index declined from 30 to 25. At least half of those completing the survey expect sales, production and shipments to be higher moving forward, with 38 percent and 30 percent seeing more hiring and capital spending, respectively. At the same time, business leaders in the Kansas City Fed’s district also see pricing pressures (up from 37 to 49) remaining quite elevated, with that measure at a three-month high.

The post Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Continued to Expand Modestly in June appeared first on Shopfloor.

If you are going to get cut off during an interview, it might as well be for the president of the United States.

Just before President Donald Trump discussed his vision to modernize America’s infrastructure and continue to support manufacturers in the United States, I joined Stuart Varney on “Fox Business” to offer the perspective of our nation’s 12 million manufacturers on the urgent need to advance infrastructure investment and remove job-crushing regulations.

As I told Stu, the bottom line is that the American people want to get things done. Manufacturers are encouraged that the president is getting things done, incorporating elements of the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) “Building to Win” strategy, and we hope Washington comes together to get a big, jobs-first, trillion-dollar infrastructure plan done.

There’s a reason 93 percent of the NAM’s members recently surveyed are optimistic about their outlook on their economy—a 20-year record high. It’s because President Trump is not just delivering speeches like he did today. He’s listening to manufacturers and putting actions behind his words—to create jobs and lift standards of living for everyone.

The post Manufacturers on Infrastructure: Get It Done appeared first on Shopfloor.