Construction Trends and Outlook for 2020

As 2019 and the decade draw to a close, we’ve been reviewing some of the issues and trends affecting the construction industry. Throughout the last decade, some noteworthy developments have been noted nationwide in the U.S., from the ongoing construction labor shortage to an amplified focus on worker safety issues. In addition, aging infrastructure remains a concern throughout the U.S. and will continue to be a focus well into the next decade, according to the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

In New York City, some of the notable issues, such as the shortage of construction workers in all trades, mirrors what’s going on in markets across the country. There are other trends that are more apparent in NYC than other areas. It’s expected that 2019 trends will continue to be a factor into 2020 and beyond.

Some of the most significant developments in New York City are in the following areas:

MTA’s New Capital Plan – In September 2019, the Metropolitan Transit Authority revealed its new capital plan for 2020-2024. The plan, described as “transformational,” includes widespread improvements throughout all areas including subways, buses, railroads, bridges and tunnels. When approvals are finalized, the $54.8 billion budget will make it the largest capital program in MTA history. The program includes $37.3 million in improvements just in the NYCT Subway system.

Megaprojects – According to Curbed NY, the development of megaprojects in New York City is a trend that will continue into the new decade. Along with the World Trade Center, some of the major “megaprojects” include Hudson Yards, Essex Crossing and Manhattan West. For a complete report, see: https://ny.curbed.com/maps/nyc-new-development-hudson-yards-wtc-megaprojects
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Safety Efforts – The NYC DOB will continue to focus efforts on worker and jobsite safety, as new safety and training regulations took effect this year (OSHA 30). In addition, as new building inspectors were hired, NYC DOB initiated surprise inspections across the five boroughs in the last couple of months. According to the New York Times, as a result of these inspections, 11,484 violations were found, with more than 2500 stop-work orders issued for safety supervision violations and dangerous working conditions. (For the full report, see https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/nyregion/nyc-dob-surprise-inspectors.html).

Construction Megacities – New York City is among the top three global construction megacities noted in a report from Global Data this year. The UK-based data and market intelligence firm based their findings on cities with a pipeline of construction projects with an investment value of more than $30 billion. Their report places NYC as the third largest megacity, with current projects valued at $285.2 billion.

We will continue to follow trends in construction and safety in NYC and other markets in the East Coast, including Northern New Jersey and Philadelphia. Watch for our continued reports in 2020.

For further information on some of these trends, see the following resources.

Infrastructure report card from ASCE: https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

AGC Report on construction labor shortages: https://www.agc.org/news/2019/08/27/eighty-percent-contractors-report-difficulty-finding-qualified-craft-workers-hire-0

Global Data report on construction megacities: https://www.globaldata.com/dubai-london-and-new-york-are-2019s-construction-mega-cities/