Dodge economist measures residential, commercial market declines

Sources: Dodge Data & Analytics, New York City; CP staff

“We are in recession. Full stop. No question about it,” says Dodge Chief Economist Richard Branch, addressing immediate and potential impact of Covid-19 response measures on North American construction activity. “We need to figure out the depth of this recession and what a potential recovery looks like.”

His revised forecast considers epidemiological assumptions that infections will peak in May and begin to subside by July, thus allowing the economy to slowly return to normal. National, state and local actions impacting construction equate to year-over-year residential and commercial project starts dropping 13 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Hardest hit commercial segments will be retail and lodging, with starts off 33 percent and 31 percent. Branch likewise sees a 13 percent decline in nonbuilding project starts.

A Dodge survey of business matters tied to Covid-19 response finds a majority of contractors concerned about a recession (64 percent) and experiencing delays (67 percent). Respondents attribute the latter condition to difficulty in obtaining materials, onsite worker availability and worsening economic conditions.  —