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Economist Lowers Expectations for 2017, 2018

Civil engineering forecasted to increase 0.9 percent this year

May 19, 2017

ConstructConnect released of its Q2 2017 Forecast Quarterly Report yesterday, revising its 2017 predictions and modifying its 2018 outlook.

The report says the year-over-year grand total 2017 starts change forecast has been eased back to 4.8 percent from the 7.4 percent figure that was estimated in Q1 of this year. 2018 has also been modified down, but to a lesser degree, to 6.0 percent from 6.4 percent.

“The revision to 2017 was warranted by weaker than expected first quarter ‘actuals,’” said ConstructConnect chief economist, Alex Carrick. “Also, the new administration in Washington is taking a long time to settle in and achieve the successes it would like in areas of personal and corporate tax cuts and a commitment to massive infrastructure spending.”

The Q2 2017 Forecast Quarterly Report suggests a more cautious outlook for the remainder of the year:

  • The residential starts figure for 2017 has been lowered from +9.5 percent to +8.1 percent, although considerable pent-up demand exists in the single-family home building market; the issue is the extent to which millennials will de-camp from downtown cores in favor of the suburbs once they form their families and begin raising children.
     
  • The non-residential building outlook has been revised to no growth in 2017 and +4.5 percent in 2018 from previously estimated levels of +4.9 percent and +4.7 percent respectively.
     
  • A current strong hotel/motel construction market rubs against worries about potential declines in foreign visitors to America as travel restrictions become more prevalent.
     
  • Hospital construction, which was briefly on a sharp upward path, has been thrown into doubt by uncertainty over future funding. A new health care act was passed by the House of Representatives, but clarity won’t emerge until the Senate approves its own version of the bill.
     
  • Civil engineering is the one sub-category where 2017’s forecast has been raised, to +8.9 percent from +8.0 percent; promised infrastructure work has been slow to materialize, but improving world trade is beginning to lift commodity prices, and there will be more CapEx in the resource sector

According to the Forecast Quarterly Report, in 2017 U.S. construction is seen as weaker compared to the stronger growth of 2016, leaving a strong opening for government stimulus to enhance construction of engineering projects.

In addition, the GDP growth decreased to 0.7 percent annualized in 2017 Q1. The report forecasts a rebound in Q2 growth due to improvements in business investments and exports.

To learn more about ConstructConnect or get a free copy of the Forecast Quarterly Report, visit constructconnect.com.

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