A Hopeful Eye on 2013

A Hopeful Eye on 2013

December 6, 2012

Year-end forecasts over the past three or four years have used “pent-up demand” and  “cautiously optimistic” as they look ahead. This December, strong indicators support the former while pushing many analysts past the latter.

Construction Equipment’s Annual Report and Forecast falls into that category. We see plenty of light in 2013, and brighter prospects past that. We are fortunate to have several sister publications in various construction markets to add insight: Building Design+Construction, represents the nonresidential market; Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler represent the home building industry; Roads & Bridges handles the transportation front; and Water & Wastes Digest, covers the country’s water infrastructure issues.

All markets are poised to move forward, hopeful that 2013 will be more than a transition year to robust construction activity and growth, but maybe even a full year of solid business activity.

It is difficult to delve too deeply into 2013 prognostication, however, without being brought to pause before the dark curtain hiding the uncertainty facing not only the construction markets, but also the national economy. It appears the 2012 elections did little to quell the divide between the political and economic philosophies charged with leading the nation. (Bob Woodward recalls the movie “Groundhog Day,” wondering who was playing the Bill Murray character during the Fiscal Cliff shenanigans.)

Until some manner of compromise or an overwhelming majority moves forward, the economy will remain cowed by the curtain.

That’s not to say construction markets are not hopeful, because they are. Consumers appear more confident, and small businesses seem ready to invest for growth. Longer-range, global scenarios steer large corporations, on the other hand, especially those that compete worldwide. They seem less likely to invest, instead sitting tight on cash reserves.

Although we’re still wrapping up the final report, which will be posted online later this month and published in the January issue of Construction Equipment, I offer some top-line data below.

2013 Contract Volume Expectations
(% responding)

Market Up Down Flat
Remodeling 70% 12% 18%
Nonresidential 56% 14% 30%
Home Building 50% 18% 32%
Water Infrastructure 46% 16% 39%
Transportation 33% 19% 48%
Total 48% 17% 35%