Contractor satisfaction with current economic conditions remains overwhelmingly positive heading into mid-2018, according to a report just released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Commercial Construction Index is a report issued by the Chamber every three months that compiles the market outlook of hundreds of contractors and builders across the country.
The most recent index reveals that 79 percent of respondents said their business as of the spring of this year has remained strong, with an increase in work backlogs.
In a separate question, 41 percent of respondents said their project load has increased in just the last three months.
The same index also indicates that contractors have a highly positive view of sustainability and energy efficiency work, with around 75 percent reporting that their customers are regularly asking for the use of energy efficient materials in given projects.
But, in one more sign of industry concern regarding the ongoing shortage of labor, those same contractors said they have experienced difficulties in trying to find skilled workers who are proficient in the use of green building materials.
Next to the labor shortage issue, the other dark cloud threatening the industry is the steel and aluminum tariff increases imposed earlier this year by the Trump Administration.
Some 86 percent of respondents indicated that they expect to see either “moderate to severe impacts on their businesses in the next three years from recently-imposed tariffs.”
“During the past twelve months, only a small percentage of contractors reported concern over how material cost fluctuations would impact their business,” the report notes. “However, in the current quarter that percentage more than doubled to 38 percent.”
“This finding is a reflection of uncertainty about materials costs due to the possibility of tariffs and trade wars, as well as rising interest rates,” the report asserts.
By Garry Boulard
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