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Light at Tunnel’s End? Survey Projects Growth in Non-residential Construction

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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Non-residential construction activity is on track to improve in 2012, according to construction contractors and equipment distributors who took part in a recent industry survey.

The survey, 2012 Construction Industry Forecast, conducted by Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc., reported the “optimism quotient”—the survey’s primary benchmark for measuring contractor and equipment  distributor sentiment—at 114 for 2012, an increase from 96 a year earlier.

Any number above 100 is considered “optimistic of year-over-year improvement in local non-residential construction activity.”

“This high rating is an encouraging sign that, for the majority of contractors and equipment distributors, business has stabilized and the worst may be behind us,” said John Crum, senior vice president and national sales manager of the construction group at Wells Fargo Equipment Finance.

“We expect to see modest improvement in non-residential construction activity this year,” he said.

Some of the report’s key findings are indicated below. The full report is available here.

• The OQ of 114 is a strong indicator that the industry expects 2012 non-residential construction activity to improve from last year. The 2012 OQ exceeds the score of 109 recorded in 2005, near the height of the construction boom. After falling to an all-time low score of 42 in 2009, the OQ climbed to 66 in 2010 and 96 in 2011.

• In spite of rising optimism over the last three years and strong optimism for 2012, industry executives remain cautious about the amount of available work to sustain the current number of non-residential construction contractors. Approximately four in ten respondents (41.7%) said they expect fewer contractors in their markets by the end of the year. Only 10.4% expect the number of contractors in their area to increase in 2012.

• Equipment distributors are “very optimistic.” When asked about their forecast for new equipment sales, 73.3% said they expect to sell more in 2012 than in 2011, and zero respondents said they expect a decrease in new equipment sales. Optimism among construction equipment distributors was high with nearly six in ten distributors (58.1%) expecting an increase in local non-residential construction activity. Only 1.5% said they expect that activity to decrease in 2012.

• Contractors are moderately optimistic. While 18.3% of contractors said they expect to acquire more new equipment in 2012 than they acquired in 2011, 52% said they would acquire the same amount and 29.2% said they expect to buy less new equipment in the coming year. Forty percent of contractors said they expect non-residential construction activity to increase in the coming year; 47.3% expect the same level; and 12.4% said they expect non-residential activity levels to decrease.

The survey was conducted Jan. 4- Jan. 15 and recorded responses from 394 construction industry executives from across the U.S. 


Tagged categories: Construction; Contractors; Design; Economy; Industry surveys; Market; Subcontractors; Trends

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