Construction data shows US contractors 'highly confident' in 12 month market outlook

A new study found the majority of contractors in the U.S. have a positive outlook for the year ahead -- and that could translate to overall economic growth.

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More than half of contractors -- 52 percent -- reported they felt "highly confident" they would have enough new business opportunities in the next 12 months, according to second quarter data released Thursday from the 2019 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index.

That percentage is up 11 percent from the index's 2019 Q1 data.

USG Corporation, a manufacturing company, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce said they use researchers from the research firm Dodge Data & Analytics to survey "more than 2,700 commercial construction decision-makers" for their quarterly indices on confidence and other industry trends. The responses are then used to create a composite score.

The index gave an overall composite score of 74 for the second quarter -- indicating a "healthy market" -- which was up from a composite score of 72 in the first quarter.

“The construction industry is a reflection of our country’s broader economic health, so contractor optimism is a great sign for everyone,” Chris Griffin, president and CEO of USG Corporation, said in a release. “Even so, it is important that we think about solutions to our big challenges, like building a healthy pipeline of new workers and incorporating technology to make our job sites safer and more efficient.”

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Other key factors for U.S. contractors' optimism include backlog ratio -- a comparison of contractors' current jobs to the work they would like to take on -- and their expectation to hire more people in the next six months.

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The second quarter data found that they expect revenue to remain level, and 85 percent of contractors have "high concern" over the cost of skilled labor.

“The second quarter findings suggest that the construction industry remains strong, optimistic, and focused on the future,” said Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a release. “To sustain this momentum, we need durable, bipartisan policy solutions from Washington that promote trade, improve our immigration system, and better prepare America’s workforce for 21st century jobs.”