With the dark days of 2020 behind us, there is some optimism ahead for the construction industry in 2021.

2021 construction outlook

It’s important to note that there were some winning sectors among the majority who experienced losses. Some segments like e-commerce are flourishing, with Amazon going on hiring sprees across the country. Warehouse space continues to be at a premium. Healthcare spaces continue to thrive as the need for new and enhanced facilities increases.

Data centers and office renovations

The office sector was particularly hard-hit, and prospects for the future are murky. Many workers have abandoned their commercial office spaces for their homes. However, there are some bright spots. As Glenn Ebersole, registered professional engineer and executive director, strategic business development/marketing for RCS Construction opines in The Mercury,

Office construction starts are predicted to increase due to the rising demand for data centers, which are included in the office category, and to the need for renovations to existing space for physical distancing and for well building design criteria.

Climate plan may create jobs

Clean energy, lower emissions and a sustainable economy are top-of-mind for the incoming federal administration, which means a massive investment in sustainable infrastructure. Per For Construction pros.com,

Another promising development is President-elect Biden’s climate plan, which pledges to commit $2 trillion to “launch a national effort aimed at creating the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future.” Such a plan would require “millions of construction, skilled trades and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy.”

Showing resilience

Per Deloitte, the engineering and construction industry has learned some lessons since the 2008 recession, with better control over its leverage and credit to help create a buffer over harder times. The company’s 2021 engineering and construction industry outlook states,

The good news is that there are reasons to be optimistic for the future of the engineering and construction industry. Connected technologies and an increase in associated investments may help firms realize new operational efficiencies. New business models and an increase in M&A activity are further accelerating the shift toward digital transformation in engineering and construction, as well as operational efficiencies. Also, E&C companies are likely to help other industries unlock the future of workplace solutions.

Pent-up demand

In its recent article 2021 outlook: 6 trends that will influence construction this year, Construction Dive notes an uptick in site selection interest, which is a strong indicator that businesses are showing interest in capital investments. This movement should have positive impact on construction professionals once it’s time to get shovels in the ground. The article also notes that the coming months may mean tough times ahead for some subcontractors, as the contractors who hire them will need to delay doing so until work picks up. However, once demand picks up, and projects that have been delayed restart, the past challenge of hiring skilled workers may again resurface.

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