Via Metal Miner
The Construction MMI (Monthly Metals Index) moved in a relatively sideways trend. Steel prices continuing to flatten out, along with bar fuel surcharges dipping in price, kept the index from breaking out of the sideways movement we’ve witnessed since December. As the index enters 2024, U.S. construction news continues to focus on high interest rates and when the hawkish Fed might consider dropping them. Along with this, the U.S. construction market still faces labor shortages, particularly for specialized skills. While predictions indicate that U.S. construction projects will continue to increase in the future, these current trends remain extremely taxing for the sector.
Construction News Indicates Lack of Skilled Workers Problematic
According to construction news sources, the construction industry in the United States continues to face a severe shortage of skilled workers, making it difficult for the sector to satisfy the growing demand for building projects. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the business needs over half a million people. Meanwhile, construction news outlets report that contractors continue to see significant demand from an increasing number of mega-projects, sustainable energy facilities, and infrastructure.
Among the numerous crafting positions that need filling are positions for heavy equipment operators, carpenters, masons, electricians, and plumbers. Most industry players anticipate that there will be a continued high demand for these positions, requiring between 300,000 and 546,000 additional hires per year on top of regular employment figures. In particular, the sector continues to struggle to find younger people to fill these roles. The Great Resignation, a declining pool of potential new hires, and unfavorable working conditions are just some of the reasons for these difficulties.
Of course, this lack of skilled construction workers affects the industry in a number of ways. For instance, projects may cost more to complete and take longer to finish. There could also be problems with productivity and quality control, raising questions about the general caliber of building projects. Construction companies are already investigating several strategies to alleviate this problem, including putting training and apprenticeship programs in place, collaborating with hiring agencies, and using technology and automation to lessen the impact of worker scarcity on project costs and construction deadlines.
China’s Property Sector More Closely Tied to U.S. Construction Than Assumed
China’s robust demand for imports at the start of 2024 left many questioning (and concerned) if the news signaled a thriving Chinese economy or the opposite. However, even if China’s economy or property sector isn’t performing at its peak, this doesn’t impact U.S. construction, right? Think again.
China remains one of the top global consumers of metals. This means that where China goes, global metal demand goes as well. If China’s metal demand proves lackluster in the immediate future, it will snowball into other global construction sectors. Moreover, with an estimated 20 million unbuilt and delayed pre-sold homes, China has a huge backlog of unfinished real estate endeavors that will cost significant amounts of money to finish. Developers continue to experience financial difficulties as a result of this fact. Now it seems that these difficulties may spread to the global construction market, including the U.S.
There are several ways in which China’s property sector difficulties might affect American building projects, according to construction news sources. For instance, if Chinese developers continue to encounter finishing projects, it could result in a decline in the market for building supplies and machinery. This, in turn, could impact American manufacturers and suppliers. In addition, if Chinese metal demand drops significantly due to domestic property construction issues, global demand for several major metals, particularly steel and aluminum, could drop. This would result in higher prices for the U.S. and any other country sourcing these metals from China.
These facts continue to ensure that any construction news out of China should get top priority.
By Jennifer Kary
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