SMACNA Chief Economist Shares Insights and Forecasts for 2024

January 05, 2024
Dr. Anirban Basu, Chief Economist SMACNA

Dr. Anirban Basu, Chief Economist for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association ( SMACNA), shares his insights and forecasts about the economy and its impact on the construction industry for 2024:            

  • Growing Industry Employment 
  • Given the elevated numbers of construction job openings presently and an abundance of megaprojects set to break ground, industry employment is poised to expand in 2024.
  • Growth Opportunities in Megaprojects
  • Various metropolitan areas will experience a surge in manufacturing-related megaprojects.
  • Manufacturing-related megaprojects will surge in 2024 across the country as a result of reshoring in supply chains.
  • Mixed Outlook for Contractors
  • The upcoming year will present varied challenges and opportunities for contractors. Contractors focusing on public works are poised for a successful year thanks to increased funding from Infrastructure legislation, while those working on residential properties will likely see a shore up of projects due to a tough real estate market.
  • Economic Themes
  • The economy’s focus on reshoring supply chains will remain prominent, alongside expectations for increased publicly financed construction in the upcoming year.
  • Factors to Consider
  • While recent good news on inflation is a tailwind there are several risks to look out for in 2024 including:
  • High consumer debt
  • Geopolitical uncertainty
  • Stricter credit conditions
  • The government’s increasing debt burden
  • On a positive note, bond markets suggest a likely decline in interest rates by mid-2024. This decrease could benefit by providing better support for project financing and backlog generation.
  • Challenges Ahead
  • For many sheet metal and related contractors, the greatest challenges will continue to take the form of retaining and recruiting talent. Wage pressures will remain apparent economy-wide and in place if the economy slows at some point next year. 
  • The team at SMACNA and their union partners at SMART will continue to advocate for students to become involved in the trades to help develop the next generation of talent.