Today is St. Patrick’s Day and spring starts officially next week. Both of those dates are signaling the start of the construction season for 2011. Sure, there is snow on the ground in parts of the country, but already daylight savings has started in a number of states and the temperatures in the south are in the 70s and 80s.
What are some of the other signs that spring is here? Besides the big blue jay sitting outside the window and the robins in the yard, several economists in the industry have recently stated that we are in a Design Recovery period in that the design firm indexes are indicating that their business is improving, certainly not to the levels of 2006-07, but improving nonetheless. That is a good sign for contractors and subs looking for any hint that their late 2011 and 2012 will create enough business so that they can start making solid plans for the future.
That doesn’t mean we are out of the construction industry recession by any means. We know that the unemployment rate in the industry remains over 20% and we still have to move forward to create those jobs. Challenges ahead include the impact of rising materials costs, need for more projects, dwindling backlogs and for the first time this week, the mention of possible “stagflation.”
Stagflation occurs when there is a period of inflationary prices and a stagnant jobs picture. Whether this will become a reality remains to be seen but we all know that it is a certainly a period of uncertainty in our industry and the world.
Spring signals rebirth and new growth. I hope that extends into the construction industry because we need some new growth to help us stabilize our work force and our companies in general. As for me, I am going outside to look for a four-leaf clover as a sign that Construction Spring has arrived.