+ Image Source: McGraw-Hill Research & Analytics/ENR Related Links: Full Details: ENR's Fourth Quarterly Cost Report (subscription) Trying to predict when the industry recovery will kick in, construction economists can only agree that things will get better, just not next year. While the optimists are hoping healthy markets will return in 2013, the pessimists are hoping for 2014 or even 2015 (see ENR 11/14/11 p. 10). Next year's expected weak demand underlies ENR's forecast for its cost indexes in 2012. Unemployment will continue to keep labor costs in check, and neither lumber, steel nor cement prices are expected to make
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.