The most recent gauge of construction industry conditions and attitudes compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicates a marginal downward trend.
According to the group’s Commercial Construction Index, which is released every four months, three levels of business industry confidence have shown declines during the first weeks of 2019.
Those levels are current project backlogs, new business confidence, and anticipated revenue.
Done in conjunction with the Chicago-based USG Corporation, the Commercial Construction Index nevertheless revealed an overall score of 72 in terms of business confidence, down 75 in the fall of 2018.
The authors of the report, Thomas Donahue, chief executive officer of the Chamber, and Jennifer Scanlon, USG’s chief executive officer, said in a preface to the document that it was “hard to pin down exactly what’s driving this slight downward trend.”
But they speculate that the numbers could be impacted by the early-year government shutdown, the increased cost of materials, as well as the effects of an always-cyclical industry.
Donahue and Scanlon, however, add that “even though this quarter’s numbers show the market may be moderating, historical standards tell us demand is healthy, and contractors remain upbeat.”
The survey also showed that responding contractors are expecting to spend less in the coming months on tools and equipment than they did during this same time period one year ago.
Then, 57 percent of respondents said they anticipated increased tool and equipment spending. In the latest survey, that number dropped to 47 percent.
The decline in new tool and equipment purchases, concludes the report, is a sign that “contractors are growing more cautious.”
By Garry Boulard
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