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U.S. construction industry - statistics & facts

The market size of the U.S. construction sector was valued at around 1.36 trillion U.S. dollars as of the end of 2020 and was expected to decline further in the next year. Overall construction put in place in the United States – residential and non-residential combined - declined by around 0.2 percent between 2019 and 2020. U.S. spending on private construction, on the other hand, continued to grow in 2020, as the construction of private residential and non-residential buildings saw some of the biggest ever-recorded figures. In a list of the 50 biggest construction contractors in the country, two companies reached a revenue of over 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

The big short: impact on construction costs

Construction costs changed significantly in 2020, due to two major developments. First, many U.S. construction firms mention that worker shortages are a big challenge in 2021 and beyond. Up until 2020, the construction sector employed more than seven million people with the most common job in the U.S. construction workforce being construction laborer – right before carpenter or electrician. Second, there are significant shortages on construction materials such as lumber. The price of softwood veneer and plywood, for instance, grew by over 13 percent between March 2021 and April 2021. Combined, these two changes led to significant differences in construction costs across various cities in the United States in 2021 – with building materials in, say, San Francisco being far more expensive than in a city like Detroit.

U.S. construction outlook: relief on the way?

President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package is believed to spearhead the U.S. construction output in the years after 2021. The 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars stimulus is expected to raise infrastructure spending especially with other relief plans also focusing on clean energy and transportation. The U.S. ranked as the 39th country in the world in terms of infrastructure investments in 2018. This includes the installation of charging infrastructure for the adoption of electric cars, but also green buildings. Housing was not a common real estate type with a LEED certification in states like California or New York. Relief is also expected to be on the way for first-home buyers in the country, as the construction industry was rather positive it could combat the supply problems for new home construction in 2021. One of the main trends here is that construction in outer suburbs outweighs that of core areas, as telecommuting or home office allowed people to live further away from urban cores.


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