Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
From: Associated Press/AP Online
Posted on: January 25, 2011
Consumer Confidence Index Hits 8-Month High
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
WASHINGTON – The Consumer Confidence Index rose in January to its highest level in eight months with Americans growing a little more confident about the job market and business conditions.
The Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index climbed to 60.6 this month, up from 53.3 in December. While that reading was better than economists had expected, confidence is still far from the 90 level that signals a healthy consumer mindset.
The January figure was the highest last May’s 62.7. At that time, consumer attitudes were improving as economic growth seemed to be taking off. However, the economy stalled in the summer, and so did confidence.
Confidence has been depressed by unemployment that surged during the country’s worst recession since the 1930s and has stayed stubbornly high even though the downturn ended in June 2009. Confidence has not been above 90 since the recession began in December 2007.
However, moods may be lifting a bit. A new survey from the National Association for Business Economics reported Monday that the number of firms expressing positive hiring plans was at its highest level in 12 years.
In the Conference Board survey, the percentage of people surveyed who felt jobs were hard to get fell slightly to 43.4 percent from 46 percent in December. The share who expected to see more jobs six months from now rose to 16 percent from 14.2 percent.
While confidence has stayed weak since the recession ended in summer 2009, consumer spending has been picking up. During the 2010 holiday shopping season, sales increased at the fastest rate in six years.
Economists are hoping that consumer confidence will keep improving in 2011 as the economy begins to show greater signs of strength and unemployment declines.
The jobless rate fell to 9.4 percent in December from 9.8 percent in November, but the economy added only 103,000 jobs. Employers added 1.1 million jobs for all of 2010, or about 94,000 a month. The nation still has 7.2 million fewer jobs than it did in December 2007, when the recession began.
But many economists expect the nation will create twice as many jobs this year as it did last year. They note that people who still have jobs are not as worried about losing them as they might have been a year ago, and that people are spending more.
Economists expect that a tax cut which took effect in January – reducing the amount taken out of workers’ paychecks to pay for Social Security – will also lead to greater spending in the new year.
Read entire article »
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Lumber has bounced back to prices seen during last decade’s boom in U.S. housing even though the homebuilding industry, one of the biggest sources of demand, is still in a bust.
The CHART OF THE DAY illustrates how the price of lumber futures on the Chicago Mercantile
Click for the full story –
Read entire article »
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
Green Materials Choices – For The Home
By T.C. Feick, Shelly Enterprises
Material choice is often the first thing people think about when undertaking a green building project. Visions of bamboo flooring and countertops made of recycled material may come to mind. But, to truly build green, consider your design and green goals before going shopping for that green product. The greenest choice is the one that performs best for your design and use. Remember that a material can be green both by its manufacture and by its performance after installation. Many materials may seem like good choices, but should be scrutinized thoroughly. The best methods for green products assessment consider a product’s benefits in place, along with its environmental cost for manufacture, maintenance, disposal, and replacement. In other words, consider a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
Materials can be “Green” for a number of reasons:
Attributes that make a material green can include one or more of the following:
-Help Reduce Energy or water use in the home –Often materials are considered green because they save energy, such as CFL light bulbs or insulation products. Note that their manufacturing process or ingredients may not be environmentally friendly themselves. These products’ benefits must overcome the environmental penalty from their manufacture to be truly a green choice. Choose fixtures and appliances that use the least amount of water possible. These products often also save energy directly (reduced appliance draw) and always save energy indirectly (reduced water use saves energy by lowering energy needed for water treatment and pumping).
-Be manufactured in an environmentally friendly way – This is the most common method by which products are marketed as green. There are many attributes to consider, but a few examples are:
– products that are made of recycled or salvaged material (a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content is best when considering recycled products)
-products that are made in an energy efficient manner or are made with renewable energy
-products that are not manufactured from environmentally dangerous components or processes (such as petroleum, chlorine, vinyl, tropical wood, etc)
-local products; Not just food, but building materials or bio fuels too.
-natural products; products that require little modification from their natural form.
-materials from renewable sources (bamboo or wheatboard, for example)
-wood products carrying a third party certification that they are responsibly harvested. (FSC)
-Help Contribute to a healthy indoor environment-These products include low/no VOC paints, finishes, adhesives, caulks, and also carpet products. Wood products such as cabinetry and furniture or plywood products that do not contain added urea formaldehyde are also smart choices. HRV’s and ERV’s, and high performance filtration and humidity monitors on HVAC systems are a best practice.
-Be Durable – A product that performs well for a longer duration than normal, or does not need costly maintenance will not need to be replaced as quickly. The choice of a product with a longer lifespan or interval between maintenance will reduce energy consumption needed for maintenance, disposal, or manufacture of a replacement.
-Look For– Any opportunity to reuse existing materials or reduce your consumption of new materials. Wherever possible, recycle your construction waste.
-Avoid-Products that make unsubstantiated “green” claims, products that have reduced durability, flashy products that do little to reduce energy use, or products that cannot be recycled at the end of their life cycle.
-Remember that a product that saves energy in its use is probably a better choice than a product that saves energy during manufacture.
Read entire article »
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
Shelly’s Announces More RRP Certification Training
Shelly’s has scheduled more Contractor Education and Training.
We will be holding another RRP course on January 19 for you to get Certified in proper handling procedures and how to work within the new EPA Lead Dust Rules when remodeling older homes.
Phil Godshall a long time local contractor and Certified RRP training instructor will be holding class at Shelly’s.
January 19 – 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM at our Bethlehem Design Center.
Cost $225.00 includes Lunch, Snack and Beverage
To REGISTER – Contact Phil Godshall at firstname.lastname@example.org or Call Phil at 215.272.0522
Read entire article »