However, he added, barring some unforeseen economic setback, the overall outlook for the construction sector and the U.S. economy is very optimistic. “If we can survive the next 12 to 18 months, the U.S. potentially has one of the most favorable 3-to-5 year outlooks,” Lustgarten said.
Construction truck and equipment suppliers should see stronger sales, but not right away, Stephen Latin-Kasper, chief economist with NTEA, said at the session. Overall, equipment sales in the construction sector are expected to drop slightly from 2012’s growth rate of 5.8% to about a 3.8% growth rate in 2013, Latin-Kasper said, citing data from IHS Global Insight. That growth will accelerate to double digits in 2014 and 2015 at 10.2% and 11.2%, according to the data forecast.
One positive piece of news for the sector was the recent passage of MAP 21, the two-year highway and transportation funding act. The act — officially called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act — does not significantly increase funding for state transportation projects from the current amount, but it does give states some stability in administering projects by moving away from the series of short-term extensions Congress has been passing since the last multiyear funding bill expired in September 2009.