The Construction Industry: A Look Back at 2017 and What to Expect in 2018

The Skilled Labor Shortage

Looking back, 2017 will be the year that construction returned to the national spotlight, as infrastructure spending, pre-recession levels of construction activity and the skilled labor shortage dominated headlines. With skilled labor aging out of the workforce, and younger workers abandoning the trades for traditional four-year college degrees, contractors have been forced to figure out how to accomplish more with the same — or fewer — resources.

With experts predicting a growth in the construction industry return to pre-recession levels by 2020, the past year has seen a renewed concentration on apprenticeships as the answer to the construction industry’s skilled labor shortage. This trend will only continue to grow in 2018.

Renewed Focus on Technology

While it is true that the construction industry has been slow to adopt the digital technologies that have streamlined processes and eliminated inefficiencies in other industries, 2017 has seen contractors turning to cutting-edge technologies and real-time data. In an industry where stakes are high, builders are showing a renewed focus on pre-construction planning and site safety — using new digital tools such as drones, wearables, and sensors changing the way contractors approach projects as well as manage daily site operations and safety.

In 2018 you can expect to see more virtual reality and augmented reality use throughout the year including technologies like 3D printing, more drone use, self-driving vehicles, and more efficient coatings for specific surfaces.

Construction Spending Growth

In 2017 the construction industry saw a higher demand for commercial construction throughout the United States. According to a press release from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Commercial Construction Index Finds High Optimism in U.S. Commercial Construction Industry”, contractors, on average, currently hold 9.5 months of backlog, close to their average ideal amount of 12 months. They also report that more than half reported high confidence in new business over the next 12 months. This along with expectations of revenues to grow or remain stable in the next year, make 2018 a good year overall for the building trades.

Merrimack Building Supply, Inc, New England’s leading distributor of commercial and residential building products, provides top quality products and service to our customers. We have warehouses in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut to better serve all areas. Contact us today for consultation.

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