Construction Industry Professionals Reveal Optimism Despite Hurdles

A second-quarter Construction Industry Confidence survey from Engineering News-Record revealed much optimism among construction executives. Most respondents are feeling confident they’ll see substantial growth in the short term, and in spite of obstacles that continue to affect the sector.

Material price increases, shrinking talent pools, and a growing number of retiring workers have created struggles for the industry, which may start hindering projects across the nation. Add to these concerns, U.S. tariffs that are expected to impact the cost of many different products, supplies, and raw materials. This is why there’s benefit to sourcing construction resources domestically where and when possible. For example, you can click here for the bolts needed for a range of structural requirements. These and other fasteners are provided by a capable supplier located in the Northeastern U.S.

Even with such issues at the forefront of the sector, the majority of the 301 Construction Industry Confidence survey respondents felt the industry will proceed to grow through this year and into early 2019. While 15 percent of the executives said the market will likely be in a decline by that time, nearly 30 percent said the industry will continue to expand for 12 to 18 months. That optimism went even further for 16 percent of respondents who foresee growth over the next three years.

Steel workers maneuver a steel beam into place on the bay door pocket of Hangar 1124 April 30 2015 at McConnell Air Force Base Kan In preparation for the KC-46A Pegasus 16 construction projects totaling 276 million are scheduled for completion by the end of 2018 McConnell AFB is scheduled to receive its first KC-46A in August 2016 US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Rachel Waller

The vast majority of the group said that material prices are a major pressure source that could dampen any real lasting prosperity. Steel prices, in particular, are a worrying factor due to recently announced tariffs. Very few respondents reported a decrease in difficulties due to labor shortages, while 47 percent said the problem had become somewhat worse and nearly 15 percent felt a lack of potential workers was far more serious.

Though not yet released, the Construction Financial Management Association’s Confindex survey of CFOs is said to show even greater confidence for upcoming industry growth. With the survey gauging general business conditions, financial conditions, and current and year-ahead outlooks, overall there is reason for optimism. In addition to rising costs of construction materials and reduced hiring prospects, interest rate increases, and higher costs for project financing are among chief concerns for the sector.

There are other factors that could shake up the industry for better or worse, including greater utilization of automation and integration of various technologies. Vocational training and incentive programs could ease labor shortages. Trends in alternative and sustainable building materials could also reduce reliance on conventional, increasingly expensive materials like steel.

Even if many in the industry are feeling a mix of confidence and caution, there’s no telling how these short-term projections will shape the sector in the long term.

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