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  • Writer's pictureHarris Oldroyd

Onshoring and Infrastructure Acts Propel 2024 Construction Winners

The construction sector enters 2024 under the shadow of recent economic challenges, including soaring material costs and labour shortages, significantly influenced by the Federal Reserve's measures to combat inflation through interest rate hikes. Despite these hurdles, certain construction segments are poised for growth, while others face continued stagnation. This analysis dives into the sectors expected to thrive and those predicted to lag in the coming year, offering insights into the complex dynamics shaping the industry's future.


Booming Sectors Poised for Growth:

Fuelled by a pandemic-induced push towards onshoring, manufacturing construction is on an upward trajectory, with investments potentially reaching a record $112 billion in 2024 according to Dodge Construction Network forecasts. This surge is attributed to large-scale projects, including multi-billion electric vehicle battery plants and 1000-acre semiconductor factories, signalling a robust period for the sector as chip demand picks up along with semiconductor sales.


The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed by President Joe Biden, is set to invigorate the bridge and road construction sectors. With approximately 63% of the allocated funds announced, these projects anticipate significant growth, potentially extending into 2025, depending on material pricing trends and government spending patterns.


Struggling Sectors Facing Headwinds:

Despite a decade of growth, the warehouse sector is entering a phase of structural decline, influenced by major players like Amazon and Walmart scaling back their construction plans. This recalibration is expected to lead to an 11% decrease in warehouse construction starting in 2024, marking the second year of contraction. The majority of negative outlook is focused on sectors within the commercial category.


The office construction sector, particularly speculative projects, has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels and is unlikely to do so soon. A shift towards alterations and renovations of existing spaces is becoming more prevalent, further dampening prospects for new office construction starts, which are expected to decline by 6% in 2024 according to Dodge.


The contrasting fortunes of these sectors reflect broader economic trends and shifts in societal behaviour, notably the onshoring movement and the revaluation of office space usage post-pandemic. While the Federal Reserve's interventions have begun to tame inflation, the full impact of these policies on the construction industry remains to be seen, with potential economic downturns still a concern for some experts.


As the construction industry navigates these uncertain waters, the clear winners and losers of 2024 highlight the sector's adaptability and resilience. Manufacturers and infrastructure projects stand to benefit from current economic policies and societal shifts, while commercial and office spaces must adjust to new realities. The coming year will undoubtedly provide further insights into the long-term implications of these trends for the construction sector.


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