In order to effectively position your company for success in 2019, and beyond, it’s important that you are fully aware of construction industry trends that could have a direct impact on your business. The AGC of America surveyed 1,312 contractors of varying size across the country for their annual Construction Hiring and Business Outlook and uncovered seven construction industry trends for 2019 that you need to know about. Here are some of the key takeaways:
1. Growth is expected in all sectors
Contractors expect the available dollar volume of projects they compete for to grow in 2019. Contractors are most bullish about the health of public building construction, followed by highway, K-12 school, and hospital construction.
2. Construction firms expect to add staff
Nearly 79 percent of contractors surveyed plan to add personnel in 2019. Contractors of all sizes will be increasing staff, but perhaps predictably the largest growth will be among firms with more than $500 million in revenue.
3. Firms continue to struggle with labor shortages
Labor shortages continue to plague the construction industry. In fact, 30% of survey respondents indicated that this issue is their number one concern for 2019. A key consequence of labor issues is increased costs, which 37% of contractors report they are offsetting by putting higher prices into new bids or contractors.
4. Firms are raising pay and investing in training
Contractors are dealing with the labor shortage issue by raising pay and providing bonuses and benefits.
59% of contractors surveyed indicate that they will be increasing basic pay rates in 2019, and 21% are improving employee benefits. In addition to boosting compensation packages, 63% of contractors are planning to invest in more training programs for new and current workers.
5. Contractors are embracing innovation
Another way contractors are dealing with labor shortages, is to embrace innovation that enables them to replace workers or employ workers with less training. Nearly 32% of respondents are using lean construction, BIM, virtual construction techniques, or off-site fabrication. Twenty-eight percent of contractors report that they will be using labor saving technology, such as drones, robots, 3-D printers, as well as laser- or GPS- guided equipment.
Increasingly contractors are turning to collaborative project delivery methods. Fifty-one percent of contractors will be using file-sharing sites like Dropbox, while 36% report the use of online collaboration software. Twenty-two percent will be using BIM.
6. IT investment is increasing and evolving
IT investment is increasing in 2019. The biggest increase in spending will be on project management and document management software, followed by estimating and scheduling programs. Increasingly, contractors are getting over their discomfort with moving their data to the cloud. Thirty-one percent report being very comfortable with doing so.
The majority of contractors moving to the cloud are using hybrid models that keep their software and data on a private network, but can be accessed with a web browser. The cloud migration is being driven by a need for mobile technologies at the jobsite. An increasing number of contractors will be using mobile software for daily field reporting, accessing customer and job information remotely, and employee time tracking and approval.
7. Time and tradition are the biggest barriers to adopting new technology
While the construction industry is increasingly embracing new technology, time and tradition remain a significant obstacle to IT investment. Twenty-six percent of contractors surveyed say they lack the time needed to implement a new system and get trained on it. Another key challenge is resistance among employees to new technology.
Despite their optimistic stance on the current state of the industry, contractors are wary of the current political climate, and how ongoing unrest in Washington DC could negatively impact their businesses. Enacting infrastructure measures, resolving trade disputes, and embracing comprehensive immigration reform are among the key issues contractors surveyed say must be addressed if 2019 is to meet their positive expectations.
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