The 83rd annual Dodge Construction Network Conference was held virtually and heavily focused on the industry’s recovery and withstanding of the COVID-19 pandemic. Presenters looked at trends impacting construction, such as the ongoing issues with the supply chain, and forecasted what 2022 will look like.

Cris deRitis, deputy chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, was the first keynote presenter. He discussed the present economy and looked ahead to see what the industry could expect in the next year.

“The first point to make, certainly the economy is on much better footing than it was just a few weeks ago and even just a few months ago.” He reviewed government data, COVID cases and travel data to explain how Moody’s Analytics came to form its Back to Normal Index, which looked at the economic recovery that stalled with the appearance of the Delta variant. Additionally, he analyzed mobility data that suggests workers are returning to their workplaces as the Delta variant fades and vaccination rates improve.

“Because of Delta, we’ve had to knock down [the GDP] forecast to something closer to 5.8% year over year growth,” he said. “That’s still very strong… very little risk of recession at this point.”

For next year, GDP growth is expected to be around 4.25%.

“Some of the production that we didn’t do this year because of Delta is just going to get shifted into next year. Some of the supply chain issues that are having an impact are just going to be resolved later, and we’ll see some of that production increase next year. So even after 4.25%, it’s still very, very strong—it’s about double what we typically have. So 2022 should still be a very positive year.”

Richard Branch, chief economist for the Dodge Construction Network, also delivered a keynote address where he discussed information on Dodge’s forecast report for 2022.

“We very much agree with Cris that economic growth will continue into 2022, resulting in growth that is above 4% next year for the economy,” Branch said.

Branch discussed how prices and shortages will persist into the New Year but will potentially start to show improvement in the second half of next year.

“This will continue to lead to longer lead times in terms of planning to groundbreaking and delaying completions. So you’ll need to make sure that you’ve built that flexibility and built those price increases right into your business plans as well as the delays.”

According to Branch’s discussion, labor shortages are systemic and will be around past 2022 and businesses should look to investing in technology to accommodate fewer people involved in jobs.

“And then finally, the pandemic has and will continue to change the shape of how we interact with buildings, whether they be offices, health care, schools… the market is shifting drastically. So make sure that your business plans are flexible enough to maintain and to stay ahead of those changes as they evolve,” he concluded.

Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more coverage of the 2022 Dodge Construction Network Conference.