In order to better understand the degree of impact and biggest concerns that the construction industry has about the COVID-19 crisis, Dodge Data & Analytics conducted a survey of 172 contractors across the U.S. from March 19 to March 31. The results of that study, published in the Keeping Business Going in a Time of Crisis: Findings from the Dodge Contractor Panel Study on Contractors’ State of Business During the COVID-19 Outbreak white paper, reveals that most contractors are feeling at least some impact from the crisis, with the worst impact expected to be felt within the next three months.
Two-thirds (67%) of the contractors surveyed reported that they are currently experiencing project delays due to COVID-19. Those delays are not just due to government-mandated closures of project sites, but to a variety of reasons, including delays in shipments of materials and equipment, challenges finding workers and smaller work crews due to social distancing requirements, owners canceling or delaying their projects due to either economic or health and safety concerns, and difficulty getting the necessary permits and inspections as government offices have closed down or dramatically reduced their availability.
On the other hand, about one-third (34%) of the industry reported little to no impact on their business at the time the survey was conducted but in the next three months, only 13% expect to remain unscathed, and almost half (48%) anticipate high/very high impacts on their businesses due to the impact of the outbreak.
When asked to rate their concerns about various risks posed by the outbreak, the highest percentage (64%) are very concerned about a possible recession resulting from the response to the virus and over half are concerned about the transmission of the virus. Interestingly, there was little distinction between the concerns about transmission between workers indoors (55%) and the concerns about transmission of the disease onsite (51%).
Very few contractors believe that their businesses are insured sufficiently to help them mitigate the impacts of the outbreak on their projects or businesses. Only five percent believe that their projects have insurance coverage for this kind of event, and only seven percent believe that their businesses do. Far more (40% and 38%, respectively) state that they are not covered for this kind of event, and the highest percentage (55%) simply do not know, which adds to the uncertainties they face even after the economy begins to open up.
As far as the impacts on their projects go, the industry is split down the middle, with about half expecting jobsites to be closed for an extended period of time. Smaller companies are most likely to believe this will be the case. Among those who do expect extended shut-downs, 51% believe that their companies face serious concerns about the viability of their business if the shutdowns go as long as three months, and about one-in-five (18%) will have difficulty surviving one month. Combined together, nearly one third (32%) of the total respondents believe their businesses are at risk if the shutdowns extend for up to three months.
To help the construction industry navigate the challenges and impact of coronavirus on construction activity, we’ve made a suite of tools for contractors and other construction industry professionals available at www.construction.com. In addition to this white paper, we’re publishing weekly lists of new planning-stage projects and bidding opportunities, a daily curated list of the most important coronavirus-related news articles from our industry as well as a webinar presented by our Chief Economist, Richard Branch, where he shared his insights on the potential impact of COVID-19 on construction starts.