Total U.S. construction starts pull back in first quarter 2017
ConstructConnect, provider of construction information and technology solutions in North America, announces the release of its Q2 2017 Forecast Quarterly Report. The report sets out a year-over-year grand total 2017 starts change that has been eased back to +4.8% from the +7.4% figure that was estimated in Q1 of this year. 2018 has also been modified down, but to a lesser degree, to +6.0% from +6.4%.
“The revision to 2017 was warranted by weaker than expected first quarter ‘actuals,'" ConstructConnect Chief Economist Alex Carrick said. “Also, the new administration in Washington is taking a long time to settle in and achieve the successes it would like in areas of personal and corporate tax cuts and a commitment to massive infrastructure spending.”
The Forecast Quarterly Report, which is free to all ConstructConnect Insight customers, combines ConstructConnect's proprietary data with macroeconomic factors and Oxford Economics econometric expertise suggests a more cautious outlook for the remainder of the year:
- The residential starts figure for 2017 has been lowered from +9.5% to +8.1%, although considerable pent-up demand exists in the single-family home building market; the issue is the extent to which millennials will de-camp from downtown cores in favor of the suburbs once they form their families and begin raising children.
- The non-residential building outlook has been revised to no growth in 2017 and +4.5% in 2018 from previously estimated levels of +4.9% and +4.7% respectively.
- A current strong hotel/motel construction market rubs against worries about potential declines in foreign visitors to America as travel restrictions become more prevalent.
- Hospital construction, which was briefly on a sharp upward path, has been thrown into doubt by uncertainty over future funding. A new health care act was passed by the House of Representatives, but clarity won’t emerge until the Senate approves its own version of the bill.
- Civil engineering is the one sub-category where 2017’s forecast has been raised, to +8.9% from +8.0%; promised infrastructure work has been slow to materialize, but improving world trade is beginning to lift commodity prices, and there will be more CapEx in the resource sector.
According to the Forecast Quarterly Report, in 2017 U.S. construction is seen as weaker compared to the stronger growth of 2016, leaving a strong opening for government stimulus to enhance construction of engineering projects. In addition, the GDP growth decreased to 0.7% annualized in 2017 Q1. The report forecasts a rebound in Q2 growth due to improvements in business investments and exports.