According to the latest quarterly forecast from ConstructConnect, construction starts in the US fell 30.7% year-on-year in Q2 2020, as the worst of the virus-related recession weighed on construction activity. All three headline sectors of residential building, non-residential building, and civil engineering declined, but the recession was less severe in the latter as it is more dependent on public funding.
US construction is expected to see a historically large annual decline in 2020, larger than that seen during the global financial crisis. However, Q2 likely represents the trough in construction activity, which should start to improve in the coming quarters. Even if lockdowns are re-imposed, construction activity is likely to be deemed an essential service, and hence allowed to continue, but, in a weak demand environment, the recovery will be slow and uneven. ConstructConnect do not see construction starts rising above their 2019 levels until 2023.
Looking ahead at the US industry, the forecast says, “…. construction starts are expected to rise 9.6% in 2021. However, with economic activity likely to remain muted for some time, construction starts are not expected to exceed their 2019 value until 2023.”
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Canadian construction starts declined 23.7% year-on-year in Q2 2020. Restrictions on construction activity were in place in Quebec and Ontario through April and early-May, but the health crisis in Canada is now mostly under control, so restrictions have since been lifted.
Canadian construction starts are expected to fall 30% in 2020, with annual declines of more than 20% in all three sub-sectors. Although the pace of decline is likely to be steeper than the US this year, the recovery is also likely to be more robust. ConstructConnect expect Canadian construction starts to exceed 2019 levels by 2022, a year before the US, with a similar speed of recovery in each of residential, non-residential and civil engineering starts.
Looking ahead at the Canadian industry, the forecast says “…. construction should be more robust in the recovery phase, growing 28.6% next year and rising above their 2019 level in 2022.”
The full forecast provides a very comprehensive, 22-page, overview of the current state of the US and Canadian construction industries, as well as an analysis of the short- and long-term drivers for individual sub-sectors. It can be downloaded, free-of-charge, from the ConstructConnect website here.
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