A more enthusiastic read on the industry came from the Associated Builders and Contractors’ fourth-quarter 2017 Construction Backlog Indicator report released this month. Projects in the nonresidential construction pipeline increased 2.25% to an all-time high of 9.67 months. Also breaking backlog records were the Northeast region (10.67 months), the commercial/industrial segment (10.1 months), and contractors with revenue of $30 million to $50 million (11.89 months).

Even so, Anirban Basu, the ABC’s chief economist, pointed to many of the same potentially negative factors that Dodge did in his analysis of what the future holds for contractors. One of the concerns Basu and Murray share is the effect of President Donald Trump’s 25% steel tariff and 10% aluminum tariff, both of which went into effect today. Industry organizations have been quick to point out that construction material prices were on the rise before the tariffs announcement and that the resulting higher costs could cause owners to nix plans for new development or bust budgets for projects already underway.

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