Viewpoint Connects Construction Data Points in Virtual Conference

Dodge Data & Analytics teamed up with Viewpoint to host a virtual event on May 18, 2021, the “Connected Construction at Work” conference.
By Construction Executive
May 25, 2021

Dodge Data & Analytics teamed up with Viewpoint to host a virtual event on May 18, 2021, the “Connected Construction at Work” conference. The conference offered an overlook of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an overview for the future of construction.

Steve Jones, senior director of industry insights and research for Dodge Data & Analytics, revealed a number of key data points during the conference.

  • While total project starts dropped by 9% in 2020 due to the pandemic, it was still just a blip when compared with the dropoffs experienced during the mid- to late-2000's recession (13% in 2008 and 24% in 2009).
  • Though U.S. commercial building starts dropped 24% in 2020, forecasts project a 6% jump in 2021 and a 10% increase for 2022.
  • Thanks to the popularity of e-commerce, warehouse building starts were up 6% in 2020 and will continue to grow in 2021 (8% forecasted growth) and 2022 (7% forecasted growth)—led by an $8.8 billion investment by Amazon.
  • Office building starts, down 22% in 2020, are expected to rebound by 8% this year and another 10% in 2022, led by a 40% bump in data center construction in 2021.
  • Despite a 12% decline in nonbuilding starts (largely heavy highway and civil construction) in 2020, those project starts are expected to increase by 5% in 2021 and an additional 6% in 2022.

Jones says that Dodge is forecasting a 4% bump in 2021 and an 8% increase in 2022.

Dodge’s Commercial Construction Index, revealed at the conference, also includes these revelations:

  • Labor is still a key industry challenge, with 85% of contractors reporting moderate to high difficulty in finding skilled workers and 83% of contractors expecting the situation to stay the same or worsen over the next six months.
  • The costs and availability of construction materials is another key area of concern, with 82% of contractors noting that fluctuating expenses have had a moderate to high impact on their business and 71% of contractors noting they had faced material shortages.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is still having an impact on work, with 80% of contractors noting project delays and 58% considering worker health and safety to be one of their top priorities.

Viewpoint’s Quarterly Construction Metric Index is also largely positive. Conclusions include:

  • Though project backlogs — a key indicator of contractors’ business health — were down in 2020, they are showing a rebound in 2021, with more than 26,000 projects backlogged in Q1 2021 among Viewpoint solution users.
  • Heavy highway saw a 10% increase in pending projects in March 2021 as compared to the year before, potentially signaling a rebound for the vertical.
  • Backlogs for general contractors have largely been holding strong, though there are still about 10% fewer pending projects in Q1 2021 as compared to Q1 2020.
  • Specialty contractors had 25-30% less pending jobs in January and February of 2021 as compared to the same time period in 2020.
  • Contract values have largely been holding steady since October 2020, which relates to backlogs starting to build back out.
  • Net hiring has been positive in Q1 2021, though hiring is still down more than 40% from what it was a year ago; some regional areas though are showing a hiring boom, with contractors in the Southeast leading the way with a 103% increase in new hires.

Click here for a full summary of the conference, as well as access to recordings.

by Construction Executive

Construction Executive, an award-winning magazine published by Associated Builders and Contractors, is the leading source for news, market developments and business issues impacting the construction industry. CE helps its more than 50,000 print readers understand and manage risk, technology, economics, legal challenges and more to run more profitable and productive businesses.

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