AIA Predicts Increased Commercial Construction Activity

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) released the results last week of its first Consensus Construction Forecast of the year. AIA’s survey of the architecture, engineering and construction industries’ leading forecasters predicts that overall spending for non-residential buildings will rise 7.7% in 2015 and 8.2% in 2016. In 2015, the commercial sector is projected to increase 11.8%, industrial to increase 10.5% and institutional to rise 5%.

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AIA Chief economist Kermit Baker said construction spending at the peak of the market in 2008 was exactly $500 billion. The market’s trough was in 2011, when it was $337 billion. He said the AIA estimate (final revised numbers are not yet in) for 2014 is $377 billion.

“It’s come back,” he said, “but it’s certainly well below where it was before the downturn. This is the first time since the Great Recession that every major building category is projected to see increases in spending.”

Uncertainty in international economies, potential labor shortages, lower energy costs, rising interest rates and construction costs all are factors that Baker said AIA be watching closely.

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