COVID-19 upended the world as we know it, shuttering businesses seemingly overnight. The construction industry has fared better than many, losing more than a million jobs and gaining back roughly 600 thousand. But it could take years to get back to pre-pandemic norms. If you’re in the construction industry, here is what to expect.
2021 Construction Predictions
Nonresidential Spending Takes a Hit
As you might expect, pandemic-related shutdowns mean that most businesses are not eager to expand. In fact, the commercial building sector is projected to decline by 12% in 2020 and an additional 8% in 2021. Industrial and institutional construction are also expected to decline in both years, though not as sharply.
Residential Housing Market Is Strong
Thanks to low-interest rates, the residential housing market has largely bounced back. Though some experts warn that a crash could follow, right now residential construction seems to be the most stable bet.
Construction Technology May Get a Boost
Though the strictest lockdown measures have been lifted across the country, many localities still have restrictions on the number of people who can gather together in any one place. In addition, most employers are doing everything they can to avoid employees or customers getting sick. Adoption of construction technology, from project management software to drones and thermal cameras, may prove to be a key part of keeping everyone as safe as possible.
Modular Construction Could Rise
Limiting the number of workers on a job site at the same time could also lead to an increase in off-site, modular construction. This type of construction is easily adapted to shift work and can be performed in climate-controlled facilities that are not subject to weather delays. Rather than gathering a bunch of different trades on-site, it may prove to be smoother, easier, and safer to adopt modular construction methods whenever possible.
The Industry Remains Uncertain
The reality is that much of our future is still unclear. Will the vaccines that are currently in large-scale trials prove safe and effective? When will they be rolled out? Are promising new therapies about to change COVID-19 from a possible death sentence to a mild illness lasting only a few days? Or will we have a massive resurgence in case counts, hospitalizations, and fatalities?
Right now, we can only guess at what will happen with the pandemic, and economists agree that until COVID-19 is under control, the economy cannot return to normal. The construction industry may be faring better than sectors such as retail and hospitality, but its fate is equally tied to these currently unanswerable questions.