Construction Backlog And Credibility Rise In April

  • Editorial Team
  • Construction Career Outlook
  • 24 May 2024

In the construction industry, uncertainty is the most common element that keeps contractors and market analysts alert. This is actually important to keep the industry alive and running. A recent fluctuation in the market has made everyone cautious regarding their businesses.

A few significant changes occurred in the building business in April. Prices rose, the Construction Backlog Indicator moved up, and while confidence levels varied, they were generally optimistic.

A detailed report made and presented by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has shown up with some valuable data. This report mainly focuses on the current situation of the industry following the future predictions to be considered for strategic planning and investment choices.

What does construction backlog measurement show?

According to a survey of ABC members completed between April 22 and May 6, the Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) increased to 8.4 months in April. This number represents a 0.5-month decrease from April 2023 but a minor gain from the previous month. The contractors that saw the biggest monthly gains were those whose yearly revenues were between $30–$50 million and $50–$100 million. The biggest and smallest contractors in terms of revenue did, however, indicate a reduction in the backlog.

“One would not know it based on construction confidence and backlog,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu, emphasizing the sector’s resiliency amid economic difficulties. “The Federal Reserve began increasing up interest rates more than two years ago.” The country’s nonresidential construction sector continues to gain speed, according to ABC measures.

What does the construction confidence index say?

ABC’s Construction Confidence Index (CCI) offered a complex view of the mood in the sector. While the staffing level indicator improved in April, the sales and profit margin measurements saw minor drops. Expectations for growth over the next six months are shown by the fact that all three measures are still above the 50-point barrier.

“While there are rare hints of weakness in certain segments and over specific times, the average contractor continues with a solid backlog and an expectation that sales, employment, and profitability will expand over the next six months,”

Basu said, highlighting the difficulties facing the industry.

What about Costs of Construction and Inputs?

ABC’s study of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ Producer Price Index (PPI) shows that costs for construction inputs rose by 0.5% in April over the previous month. The price of nonresidential building inputs increased by a marginally greater 0.6%. In the last year, nonresidential input prices have increased by 2.2% while overall construction input prices have increased by 2.3%.

With the price of crude oil rising by 10.6% and the price of raw energy commodities rising by 8.2%, the energy industry was a major contributor to these price increases. On the other hand, the price of natural gas decreased by 0.9%. The monthly increase in input costs was due to rising oil and copper prices, despite a drop in iron, steel, asphalt, and gypsum prices in April.

“Rising input prices will put upward pressure on earnings at a time that nearly 1 in 4 builders expect their profit margins to contract over the two quarters that follow, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index,”

Basu talked about the effects of these patterns on the industry.

What are the Implications for the Economy and Industry? 

The construction industry is still shaped by the larger economic environment, especially the ongoing inflation. A 0.5% increase in the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand goods and services overall in April indicated that inflation was picking up speed and that higher interest rates were likely to stay in place.

“Project financing costs are likely to stay higher for an extended time due to persistently high inflation,” stated Basu. There has been an increase in project delays and cancellations. Furthermore, the cost of materials and used heavy construction equipment has increased due to new supply chain issues, which could reduce industry profits.

Increasing pay levels in other industries, such as retail and logistics, are making construction wages more competitive in the labour market. According to this inclination, higher compensation would be required in the construction industry in order to draw and keep the requisite labour. There might be a challenging time ahead for the small contractors. However, they may work in collaboration with the big contractors or can make some strategic decisions to stay firm in the market.


The performance of the construction industry in April is a reflection of both problems and resilience. Even while confidence and backlog indicators are trending upward, there are still obstacles to overcome because of growing input costs and economic challenges. The emphasis will probably continue to be on striking a balance between growth and the financial certainty of rising borrowing costs and competitive labour markets as the industry adjusts to these circumstances.


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