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What does the future hold for local construction companies?In construction activity survey, businesses report growth in number of projects, wages

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Many midstate construction companies expect President Donald Trump to keep his word regarding U.S. infrastructure spending, according to data collected for the first installment of the CPBJ Construction Activity Index.

The index is a quarterly measure of conditions and expectations in Central Pennsylvania’s construction industry. It serves as a snapshot of confidence among construction-related businesses and an indicator of the local economy’s future direction.

About 91 percent of the 72 companies surveyed believe Trump will keep his infrastructure promises.

Responses were collected between Jan. 17 and Feb. 6 from representatives of construction businesses, including contractors, suppliers, engineering firms and architectural firms.

About two thirds (68 percent) had 99 employees or less. Another 16.4 percent had between 100 and 249 employees, while 14.9 percent had 250 or more. Five companies did not indicate their size.

Respondents also represented a range of counties: Cumberland (16.7 percent); Dauphin (29.2 percent); Lancaster (25 percent) and York (16.7 percent). Smaller portions (less than 5 percent each) came from Franklin, Lebanon and other counties.

In the open-ended portion of the survey, we asked respondents to share what the most important factors affecting their business outlook right now are:

  • “Availability of skilled craftsman, cost of health care, excessive regulations.”
  • “Discussion of infrastructure investments at the federal level, weakness in PA funding for transportation, water and sewer projects, strengthening of overall national economic indicators.”
  • “Overall strength of the economy. If Trump follows through on cutting regulations and cutting taxes, then the economy will be strong and our business will do well.”
  • “First overall, manpower is an issue across the commercial construction industry. There is a real shortage of skilled craftsmen in just about every trade. Second is interest rates. While interest rates are still very low from an historical perspective, the increase in rates that is starting will affect some projects. Unfortunately, some have become accustomed to the low rates and based their plans on rates remaining the same."

View the slideshow below to see the rest of the survey's results.

The next survey will take place in April, with results to be published in May. If you are interested in taking part, email lists@cpbj.com.

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