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2018 was good for the construction industry, and while things are seeming promising looking forward, those in the industry should temper their optimism with the slightest bit of caution. It’s certainly not time to panic, but a few worrying signs suggest that next year’s prospects might not be as rosy as they initially seem.

That said, there’s quite a bit of good news for the industry at large. 2018’s construction spending for the first three quarters of 2018 beat that period for the previous year by over five percent, while employment crept up nearly five percent over the course of a year. And trends in the industry’s development this year suggest stability in the market given the even balance of spending on public, residential, and private nonresidential projects. And most contractors seem optimistic about the future. Over 75% of contractors polled by the Associated General Contractors of America expect to increase their labor force in the coming year, though they may have trouble finding workers. There were 278,000 job openings in the industry as of September of this year.

If there’s a problem looking forward, it’s likely that there simply aren’t enough skilled laborers to go around. The employment rate for workers with recent construction experience is the lowest it’s been in nearly two decades, and the rapid retirement of baby boomers in the field will likely presage more labor shortages looking into the long-term future. Also causing worries in the industry is the impact that the White House’s tariffs could have on construction costs. While many contractors managed to dodge the increased price of materials this year by having bought their goods in advance, an extended trade war could put a significant bite into the profit margins of construction companies in 2019. That means contractors paying more for contracts that are already quoted and potentially having to slow the rate at which they pick up jobs. Finally, there’s the slow but steady rise in interest rates. While this won’t affect most contractors directly, it could spur developers and home buyers to forestall projects until rates are more manageable.

That said, the industry has gone through worse, and the future still seems promising. While contractors might not enjoy the same bounty they experienced in 2018, the coming year should still be rich with opportunities.