In a new Contractor Confidence Index (CCI) survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of St. Louis, nearly half (44 percent) of its general contracting members report that business conditions have improved over the past six months. At the same time, 47 percent of the respondents report business has remained the same while none of the respondents categorized business as much better. In fact, 9 percent felt conditions have worsened over the past six months. The new online survey was completed on July 24.
Looking forward, 53 percent of the general contractor members expect business to remain about the same over the next six months while 31 percent expect it to get better. One percent believe conditions will be much better in six months, while 6 percent see conditions getting worse. Six percent of the respondents said they are unable to foresee conditions six months from now.
When asked to predict a full year ahead, the general contractors expect conditions to be much better (6 percent), better (34 percent), about the same (31 percent), worse (13 percent) or don’t know (16 percent). Looking 18 to 24 months ahead, respondents reported a more favorable outcome: much better (13 percent) better (41 percent) about the same (9 percent) worse (22 percent) don’t know (16 percent).
Eighty-one percent of the contractors reported that 0 to 25 percent of their current work is on roads, bridges or other horizontal infrastructure. Sixty-six percent of the contractors reported that 75 to 100 percent of their current work is in vertical (building) construction.
The construction industry employs nearly 100,000 persons in the state of Missouri and represents a significant economic impact for the St. Louis metropolitan region. Our state continues to be challenged by a lack of new businesses moving into the area as well as the Missouri state Legislature’s failure to address our state’s roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure.
In a separate report issued July 30, 2013, by the AGC of America, Missouri showed a 5 percent gain in construction employment from the same time last year (113,200 as of June 30, 2013, as compared with 108,300 on June 30, 2012). The St. Louis area showed a 5 percent gain (61,700 vs. 58,900), while Kansas City showed an 8 percent loss (21,600 vs. 23,400) and Springfield, Mo., showed an 8 percent gain (61,700 vs. 58,900.) St. Louis ranked 103rd in the nation in construction job recovery, with a gain of 2,800 jobs over the same time last year.
Our contractor members have gone through some very challenging times over the past five years. They are literally “in the trenches” every day with business owners and institutions investing in their facilities so we believe they are the best barometer of “actual” business conditions in St. Louis. Missouri’s construction industry is slowly gaining ground, but it certainly is not the robust recovery for which we all had hoped.
St. Louis still has a lot of work to move us all towards a vibrant economy. Some other metropolitan areas are outpacing us, as indicated by construction employment figures from around the country. We hope our new CCI Index, which we plan to release quarterly, will be yet another tool to help business, government and institutional leaders plan for the future. We all want to see the state’s and the region’s economy move forward.