During last year’s bitter and exhausting presidential election campaign, the now incumbent President of the United States, Donald Trump, a man who built his fortune in the property business, gave hope to construction workers by promising to rebuild America’s infrastructure (perhaps rather ominously, the page containing this promise on his personal website no longer exists). In a speech earlier this month at the North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU), Trump said that ‘together, we are going to rebuild this nation’. He vowed to bring back three-quarters of a million jobs by reducing bureaucratic red tape with regard to the process of getting permits to build, a process he claims can take up to a decade. In order to enact his supposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan, the President vowed to get rid of many of the regulations that he sees as simply being inhibitive to fast and efficient work. His presidency is still young and it remains to be seen whether he will succeed in his ambitions or not. A major construction job that he seems to be taking particular interest in is the construction of the promised wall on the southern border that the US shares with Mexico. It has yet to be established exactly who will pay for the wall or when it will begin construction but the bidding process began last month.
The health of the American construction industry depends in large part on how Trump acts but its current state has more to do with Obama’s legacy. A recent report found that over the course of 2016, the industry enjoyed modest but steady growth. At the end of the fourth quarter of the last financial year, figures showed that spending had risen 4.5% compared with the end of 2015 bringing the total to nearly $1.2 billion. This is a general picture though and a more detailed look reveals that while the industry is doing well in the South and Midwest, it is somewhat struggling in the other parts of the country. It is thought that construction firms will therefore, look to these regions to capitalize in the coming year. However, the feasibility of the industry will continue to be tested as the costs of labor and materials continue to rise. The prices that will have to be charged to maintain a reasonable profit margin will therefore also have to rise.
However, despite these conditions, a report from the Construction Intelligence Centre (CIC) projects that the sector’s annual growth is set to accelerate from 1.7% to 3.1% over the next five years. This is obviously good news but it is just a projection and construction firms will still want to act in their own best interests. This may mean outsourcing (like Cement Mixer Hire for instance rather than buying one) or hiring fewer workers. As the US economy continues to recover after the crash of 2008, the atmosphere is still rather uncertain. Whether construction firms have the confidence to trade at levels that will grow the industry as a whole remains to be seen. The effect that having a property mogul in the White House has on the industry is yet to be determined either.