TACA says a highlight of the event was the Texas and National Economic Report presented by Jon Hockenyos, president at TXP, an economic analysis and public policy consulting firm.
Hockenyos said: “While both Texas and the U.S. are close to resuming ‘normal’ activity, a full recovery has yet to occur. However, in the months to come, I believe we are looking at a new version of the ‘roaring ‘20s,’ due to low interest rates, pent-up demand for travel and social experiences and a lot of stimulus money being pumped into the economy.”
He cited US GDP in the first quarter of 2020 as coming in at 0.3% and, after the most dramatic dip to -9.0% in the second quarter of 2020, is now back up to 0.4% in the first quarter of 2021.
Hockenyos highlighted Texas' dramatic growth – the state is currently 8.9% of the nation’s population and accounts for 32.4% of net national population growth in 2020.
According to Hockenyos, this has created a huge demand for housing, industrial and warehouse construction, but a slower demand for office, lodging, entertainment and medical facilities, which is largely due to societal changes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He predicted a rise in public spending in the next few years, benefiting TACA member companies, which supply the materials that build the state’s roads and highways, bridges, schools, hospitals and residential and commercial structures.
However, Hockenyos warned of several factors that may hamper the industry, including demand for materials outstripping supply chains and the rising price of materials.
He also citied servicing the national debt in the long-term and rising inflation in the near-term as factors that could hamper expected growth.
“When inflation starts to warp your business decisions, we know it is a problem,” he added.
Michael Johnson, CEO of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, warned that America's economic competitors are investing strategically in infrastructure as a means to try to take the country's status as the No. 1 economy in the world.
“The US got just a C- and Texas only got a C in the American Society of Civil Engineer’s latest Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (issued every four years). We can and must do better.”
Johnson remained optimistic about Congress passing legislation that will make significant investment in infrastructure this year. He cautioned that when that investment does come, regulations “that are not built on sound science” could make it more difficult to access the aggregates and produce the construction material that will be needed.
He cited policies that put aggregates, sand and cement facilities further away from population areas as counterproductive to growth and infrastructure investment as of particular concern.
TACA CEO Josh Leftwich agreed that an adequate infrastructure is paramount to the state’s success.
“With population growth comes the need for more shopping, medical support and, of course, education,” he said. “I know our industry will be there to support these efforts and supply the best materials we can. We look forward to providing the solutions to this unprecedented growth.”