Over our past few blog posts we’ve talked about how the construction industry is seemingly on the rise, how contractors are shaping the world of tomorrow and where you may fit into that overall picture. Unfortunately, we have some bad news. Two years ago, New Jersey was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, a storm that claimed the lives of 34 people living in the state, destroyed homes and disrupted life as we know it for countless numbers of people residing in New Jersey. Contractors were quick to lend a hand as opportunities to rebuild were fairly abundant as the Federal Government and the state sought to return everyone to some semblance of normalcy. But, the industry that had grown so much and restored so much hope has finally experienced a state of decline which gives rise to the question; what will New Jersey contractors do as opportunities for employment dry up within the state?
Just a couple of weeks ago I was driving from my home in Brooklyn to my parent’s house in Buffalo. It’s about an 8 hour drive which takes you through the concrete jungle that is New York City, through Northern New Jersey, parts of green and hilly Pennsylvania and then into the confines of Western New York. But what does my drive have to do with the construction industry? On that drive alone I saw more construction zones and contractors than I have ever seen before. What will it be like for contractors in 2014?
It seemed like every couple miles a road was being re-paved, re-lined or there was construction happening slightly off the beaten path. It got me thinking about some earlier blogs I wrote, where experts had predicted that the industry would be resurgent in 2014. Was it true? I mean, there was a lot of construction happening but just because I saw contractors in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania might not be indicative of how the industry was doing across the country. So, I checked out the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) website and here’s what I found.
In either 2014 or 2015 the industry is supposed to return to norms that it hasn’t seen since before 2008, according to the AGC and AGC chief economist Ken Simonson in a recent webinar. Along with Kermit Baker and Bernard Markstein (both of the American Institute of Architechts and Reed Construction Data) the trio compiled a report based around the results of the AGC’s Outlook Survey.
The survey was divided into 11 non-residential sectors of the industry and distributed to over 20,000 contractors. Of those eleven sectors, ten of them were extremely optimistic that the market would improve in 2014. Some sectors were more optimistic than others with manufacturing experiencing the most optimism and marine construction experiencing the least. Still, some have their reservations about certain sectors.
“In previous years I was more optimistic. This year, I’d have to say that I don’t see it happening on the public side, but I do think we’re going to have a significant upswing in non-residential construction,” said Simonson.
So, will the construction industry rebound in 2014? Maybe, just maybe and it might depend on what industry you’re in. But, if the trip from I-95 to I-81 is any indication this year could be a very good year for contractors.