Contractor Confidence Falls to Record Low Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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The U.S. construction industry is struggling at the moment due to covid-19. The coronavirus is continuing to assault the nation and the world with new deaths being recorded each day. Though major cities like New York are starting to report lower numbers of infections and deaths, some health officials predict a second wave of the virus.

Is it too soon to reopen the economy?

Many mayors and governors are calling for the economy to be reopened. The mayor of Las Vegas went so far as to say her city would be a ‘test group.’  She thinks that reopening the economy is the right move, despite warnings from health officials.

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The recently released Associated Builders and Contractors‘ Construction Confidence Index shows a definite decline in sales, profit margins and staffing levels. In fact, each of the three metrics fell below the threshold of 50 for the first time in history. A recent survey of ABC members indicates that most construction professionals believe that there’s very little likelihood that things will improve over the next six months. They agreed that profit margins will continue to be affected, along with sales and staffing, even after the crisis is over. It may take some time for each industry sector to return to normal.

Since January, sales have decreased from 68.3 to 38.1, while staffing levels have decreased from 69 to 45.2. Profit margins went from 61.9 to 36.6.

Construction expected to fare better

Experts believe that construction will hold up better than other industries. The reasons for this are not clear, but it is expected that construction will rebound quicker than restaurants, retail, manufacturing and airlines.

The architecture industry has been similarly affected. Billings fell to an all-time low of 33.3, a whopping 20.1 point decline during the month of March. These scores are even lower than those reported back in 2008 during the Great Recession.

Though most states have issued stay-at-home orders, exceptions are granted for essential workers, which include certain construction professionals.

Are workers’ lives at risk?

Sean Green, founder and COO of Aforma, a general contracting firm based in Portland, Oregon, commented recently: “Different parts of the country are experiencing the pandemic in different ways. Here in Oregon, we see the actions in California and Washington and from our own government. We get sometimes-conflicting messages on the level of importance. And I feel like we’ve gotten ourselves into a position—especially in Oregon, with the lack of testing—where it’s unknown to us what the level of spread is. We know we’re facing severe shortages in personal protective equipment, in hospital beds, and we’re really not getting much support from the federal government.”

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His comment highlights an important message for those who have been deemed ‘essential workers.’ There’s no guarantee they won’t get sick at some point and resources are limited for those who do. So far, there are no cures or vaccines, though dozens of scientific research labs are working hard each day to find one.

Great toolboxes

For those who are in the construction business, good tools are essential, along with sturdy toolboxes. RolacaseUSA manufactures top-notch van shelving and work truck cabinets and other products for tradesmen. The company began in 1982 in Australia and quickly became well-known because of its wide range of van storage solutions. These include a number of storage solutions for work trucks, cargo vans, tiny homes, boats, and RVs.

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