Survey: Michigan Construction Industry Forecasts More Jobs Ahead

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A survey of Michigan commercial construction companies and business owners shows some positive indicators, including an anticipated increase in jobs in the state within the next 18 months.

“There’s a movement to work smarter, with a longer-term focus,” says Kevin Koehler, president of the Bloomfield Hills-based Construction Association of Michigan, which just published its biennial survey along with Plante Moran in Southfield. “For example, there is greater emphasis on improving processes and products rather than general cost cutting that we saw in the 2009 survey,” Koehler says.

Of those surveyed — general contractors; subcontractors; architectural and engineering firms and suppliers; and business owners — 53 percent planned no change in workforce over the next 12-18 months, while 42 percent anticipated adding employees. This is a sharp contrast to the 2009 survey, when 26 percent of respondents anticipated layoffs.

Likewise, for Michigan-based companies working in the state, nearly 90 percent anticipate the volume of work will increase or stay the same over the next 12 to 18 months. For those working elsewhere, just over 70 percent anticipate work to increase outside of Michigan during that same period.

“We are seeing cautious optimism in the survey results which mirrors what many of our construction clients are currently experiencing in the field,” says Tom Doyle, leader of the Construction Industry Group at Plante Moran. “Construction leaders realize it could be a long road back, so positive trends need to be considered in light of where the industry was in 2009. Still, there are definite, measurable upticks in the industry and overall, we are confident the survey findings reflect an industry in recovery.”

The survey also found an uptick in green or sustainable building, with 70 percent saying they regularly engage in such practices. In comparison, only 52 percent said they did in 2011.

Other key findings include:

  • On the Michigan Right to Work issue, 68 percent of respondents believe it will be two to five years before the law has an impact on their business
  • 34 percent of respondents said renovation is providing the greatest amount of work opportunities, compared with 29 percent in 2011
  • Respondents reported 31 percent of projects in the next 12-18 months are anticipated to be $1 million or more, an 11 percent increase from 2011
  • In bidding competitive work, 54 percent said they were competing against less than five bidders; also, in the current survey, only 4 percent of projects had 10 or more bidders, compared with 33 percent in 2009
  • While 50 percent of respondents expect labor availability to stay the same over the next 12-18 months, 34 percent indicated a decrease in labor availability over that same time period

To read the full CAM Biennial Business Survey results, click here.

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