The Trimble Viewpoint Q2 2021 Metrics Index Report

Backlogs & Contract Values Are Up! See the Latest Industry Trends

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While economic recovery began in Q1 2021, the effects of the ongoing pandemic continue to plague the country.

The Q2 2021 Metrics Index shows contractors still struggling to scale their operations in the face of highly unpredictable conditions. With the rate of COVID rising again at the time of this writing, time will tell whether the upcoming Q3 continues on the gains of Q2.

Backlogs were up 7% YoY in Q2, indicating that projects are continuing to rebound

Construction Project Starts in Q2 2021

Backlogs for Specialty, Heavy Highway, and Civil subs increased 20% YoY, with a 20% decrease for GCs

Investment in existing structures and in infrastructure remains high, helped by favorable finance rates. Rates also contribute to the increases we see in the specialty trades and heavy/civil segments:

  • Specialty contractors saw a 20% increase in backlogs in Q2, largely due to big project increases in April (45%) and May (50%).
  • Heavy highway and civil contractors experienced 20% more projects each month in Q2 than Q2 2020.

On the other hand, general contractors saw a 12% decrease in projects in Q2 compared to a year ago. The surplus of office space and decline in brick-and-mortar retail starts have hurt nonresidential general contractors.

Construction Contract Values in Q2 2021

Construction Hiring Trends in Q2 2021

Construction hiring trends saw major gains in Q2 2021, up roughly 23% year over year. April saw the biggest increase, 100%, followed by a modest 10% in June 2021.

And there’s reason to be bearish as we go into the second half of 2021: The ongoing impact of the pandemic and lower contract value project starts, plus the large surplus of unfilled positions that is common to most industries, paints a dim picture for contractors looking to recruit skilled labor in the second half of the year.

Q2 hiring was up 23%, with April showing a 100% increase as compared to a year ago.

Note that comparing jobs year-over-year is strongly skewed by the rapid declines, then rapid rebound, in 2020. Overall throughout the construction industry, companies posted an increase of 11,000 jobs in July 2021. The construction sector is still up by 21,000 jobs compared to H1 2020.

The Quarterly Construction Metrics Index is a good way to benchmark and compare your company to your industry peers. Reliable industry metrics are critical to making smart, strategic business decisions—especially in these times of uncertainty and change.

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Charity Heller leads the Viewpoint content team. She is passionate about engaging new audiences and creating relationships through storytelling, data, strategy, and inclusion.