Ed Sullivan, Portland Cement Association’s (PCA) chief economist and senior vice president of market Intelligence, anticipates the U.S. economy will gradually weaken during the first half of 2024 but will likely slowly recover in the second half.
Sullivan made that prediction and others for the industries at a press conference held at World of Concrete 2024 in Las Vegas.
Sullivan explained some of the determining factors for this year’s forecast include the end of the COVID-19 relief programs, the lagged impacts of monetary policy and credit tightening. He added that despite an expected economic slowdown, the chance of a recession this year is unlikely.
“In terms of the construction outlook, there will be a battle between interest sensitive construction sectors and less interest sensitive construction activity such as infrastructure spending and the construction of large manufacturing plants associated with the CHIPS act,” Sullivan said.
Also vital to the construction industry this year is business driven by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which represents $550 billion in new infrastructure spending. Unlike previous funding mechanisms for infrastructure like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the entire IIJA package is dedicated to revamping infrastructure. Since it was signed into law in 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration says some 40,000 IIJA projects are underway or have been completed.
The scope of funding is broad-based with spending on traditional infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports, rail, water, and sewer systems. There are also generous spending levels for things like resiliency projects and legacy pollutions, broadband internet and the energy grid.
“The president is right to tout IIJA’s success on the campaign trail — as it was considered an authentically bipartisan bill and has picked up its stride since being launched more than two years ago,” said Mike Ireland, PCA president and CEO.
“Our industries hope the Administration, to include the Environmental Protection Agency, will work with cement and concrete manufacturers to determine the most feasible strategies for us to continue to supply the resilient, sustainable construction materials for infrastructure that the country has come to expect,” Ireland said.