Construction Best Practices

Q2 2023 Quarterly Construction Metrics Index: A Mixed Bag of Reactions


Each quarter, we pull and aggregate anonymized, real-time data from 1,000 Trimble Viewpoint customers who entered data into our ERP systems and compare it to the same quarter a year before. We pull data related to project starts, contract values, hiring and cash flows since those provide a good snapshot of the overall health of the construction industry.

When Trimble Viewpoint pulled these stats for the second quarter (April 1 through June 30) of 2023, we saw similar trends to the past nine quarters, which all experienced declines in project starts and contract values.

Q2 2023 also showed flat hiring rates and an increase in cash flow, indicating that contractors held onto cash and didn’t invest it in projects, capital improvements or technology upgrades.

Put together, it painted a rather grim picture of the current business atmosphere, so we asked The Network, Trimble Viewpoint's online user community, if these stats mirrored what they saw in their own businesses. Ninety-five people responded and below is a snapshot of their feedback.

Most Contractors Didn’t Experience Slow Project Starts

According to the latest Q2 2023 Quarterly Construction Metrics Index, new project starts declined 35% across all verticals as compared to the second quarter of 2022. This was most pronounced with heavy highway and civil contractors, who saw a 60% decline in new projects, followed by general contractors (44% decline) and speciality contractors (20% decline).

When this number was posed to The Network, and they were asked whether it mirrored their own experience: 65% disagreed while only 34% agreed. When asked to elaborate, they said:

  • “We’re definitely seeing a slowdown but probably only 15% of (project) starts. Many of those are just delayed.”
  • “We had more (project) starts in the second quarter of 2023 as compared to the prior year, but that was mostly due to project delays. Projects should have started in the first quarter but didn’t start until the second quarter.”
  • “The delivery time of specialized equipment has caused delayed project starts.”
  • “We saw some sectors slow down but many released projects that were held in 2022.”

      Contract Values May Have Lessened, But Not as Dramatically

      In the same vein, contract value data pulled for the Q2 2023 Metrics Index demonstrated that contract values decreased 48% across the industry.

      When this question was posed to the Network, 77% of Network respondents disagreed, while only 22% agreed:

      • “They have decreased, but not by 48%. Maybe 10%.”
      • “We have doubled in size over the last year (backlog-wise).”
      • “We're landing much larger projects in 2023.”
      • “We have some very large projects right now. But in the bidding world, they are looking smaller going forward."

          Majority of Contractors are Holding Onto Cash

          The Q2 2023 Metrics Index data demonstrated that cash flow across the industry increased 6.7%, which meant that most contractors held onto cash versus spent it on projects or other capital investments; 64% of Network respondents agreed with this statistic, while 35% disagreed:

          • “Contractors/owners are very slow about paying, which affects cash flow.”
          • “Small business net cash flow has decreased.”
          • “Too much debt to hold onto cash.”
          • “Not only holding onto cash, (but) liquidating unnecessary equipment and pushing cash collections.”
          • “No, we have more cash going out to fund projects.”

              Hiring Remains a Mixed Bag

              When it comes to hiring, the Q2 2023 Metrics Index stats showed that it was largely flat compared to the year prior; 52% of Network respondents agreed, while 48% disagreed:

              • “We had a net loss of employees and are in need of more workers.”
              • “We have had to hire many more crews/management to keep up with increased workload.”
              • “Specialized laborers have decreased.”
              • “We are hiring a large quantity of people.”
              • “We have been hiring but part of that is replacement workers.”
              • “We have added 20% in 2023 over 2022.”

                    Most Contractors Similarly Paid Less for Copper

                    Copper pricing is new to the Q2 2023 Metrics Index and comes from Trimble’s Construction Supply Chain team. Copper is widely used across the mechanical, electrical and plumbing industries and is considered a good bellwether for the cost of many products.

                    In Q2 2023, the copper spot price per pound decreased 12% as compared to the prior year; 54% of Network respondents said this matched their experience, while 45% said it did not.

                    Posted By

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