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Construction Forecast Bodes Well for Economy

Eighty percent of construction firms plan to expand in 2015, but hurdles remain.

Confidence in the warehousing, manufacturing and energy sectors is boosting optimism in U.S. construction. The industry is projected to expand more in 2015 than it has in the past decade, according to a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America.

Ready to Hire Again: The 2015 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook says 80 percent of construction firms plan to expand their work force this year – up from 57 percent in 2014. That said, the firms that plan to hire expect to make only modest increases, with 90 percent of them reporting they will expand by one-quarter or less.

Still, with only 7 percent of construction firms expecting to reduce their headcounts and a vast majority of contractors expecting demand to remain stable or grow, enthusiasm is rampant throughout the industry.

"Contractors are extremely optimistic about the outlook for 2015," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's CEO. "Indeed, if their predictions prove true, industry employment could expand this year by the most in a decade."

According to the report, "Growing demand for private-sector construction should drive much of the growth in the construction sector in 2015." Optimism is highest for the retail/warehouse/lodging segment, with the difference between the optimists and pessimists – the net positive reading – at 33 percent.

Contractors are "similarly optimistic about growing demand for manufacturing, private office and energy construction, with net positive readings of 26, 25 and 24 percent respectively."

Despite an overall bullish outlook for the industry, the report indicates plenty of pitfalls, including a continued worker shortage, especially craft workers, along with rising health care costs and new federal regulatory changes.

Read more about the industry's forecast for 2015 here.

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