U.S. Pipeline Construction Activity at Record Levels in the 1st Half of 2019

Chicago - August 11, 2019

U.S. natural gas, oil, and liquids pipeline construction activity is exceptionally strong for 2019 year-to-date, with industry patterns continuing their 2018 record-setting trends. Real construction levels as measured by industry employment (i.e. non-dollar denominated) are estimated from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Current Employment Statistics monthly reporting of non-supervisory pipeline construction employment (BLS data series CES2123712008,www.bls.gov). 

In June 2019 the BLS reported 151,400 non-supervisory pipeline construction employees nationwide, compared to 144,100 workers in the similarly robust June 2018 (Figure 1). Year-to-date, U.S. pipeline construction employment is 16.4% higher than the corresponding period in 2018 and 20.3% higher than the 2014-2019 five-year first half average. The typical, historic seasonal patterns in U.S. pipeline construction are also continuing in 2019, with lowest activity in most years (i.e. those without extraordinary market events) occurring in the winter months with a rising activity and employment through the warm weather months until winter resumes. 2019 is forecasted to be another record year.

The long-term perspective of current U.S. pipeline construction activity is that it remains extraordinary by any historic comparison. Current U.S. pipeline construction employment is double the levels of the early 2000’s (Figure 2).  The long-term growth trend in employment that began in circa 2006 has continued unabated, with only minor, temporary setbacks occurring following the 2008 financial crisis and late-2014 oil price break. These setbacks were quickly reversed despite lower overall oil and natural gas market prices.

 

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