Deep Dive: Glass and Glazing Construction Activity in U.S. Through First Quarter of 2019

As the second quarter of 2019 approaches its midpoint, now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the first quarter of the year and see what kind of momentum (if any) has been built in U.S. glass- and glazing-related construction.

Glass and glazing work in nonresidential and multifamily construction was flat overall in the first quarter of 2019 compared to a year ago, according to Key Media & Research’s (KMR) data and analysis. The value of glass-related construction activity during the first three months of this year was just over $5.7 billion, virtually unchanged from the first quarter of 2018.

This follows a 4.5-percent increase in glass and glazing work from the first quarter of 2017 to the same period in 2018.

While there was no year-over-year change from 2018 to 2019 in overall value, there is a story to be told when broken down by segment.

Glazing contractors saw the biggest increase in institutional building work, which includes the major healthcare and educational segments (as well as smaller ones such as transportation, amusement/recreation, religious, public safety and manufacturing). As a group, institutional glass and glazing construction increased by more than 4 percent from the first quarter of 2018 to the same period in 2019. Commercial work, including office, lodging, retail and related building, was up just under 3 percent.

There are two major takeaways from this.

First, institutional and commercial have flipped roles, with the former becoming the larger growth sector. However, it is worth noting that commercial still makes up a larger share of glass and glazing construction.

Second, glass-related activity in multifamily construction has pulled back to start 2019, showing a more than 11-percent decline from the first quarter of 2018. This type of work increased from 2017 to 2018.

It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues in the second quarter. Stay tuned to this blog for future analysis.

(KMR’s glass and glazing construction value is derived from the application of weights and adjustments to raw not-seasonally-adjusted construction spending data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as primary research by KMR. Unique formulas are applied to each of the 17 subsectors, and data are regrouped into three categories: Commercial, Institutional and Multifamily.)