Contractors see brighter economic outlook than other small-business owners

Construction contractors are more optimistic about the health of the general economy in the coming year and worry less about fuel and hiring than other small-business owners, according to a survey a business research group conducted.

When it compared small businesses overall to construction companies, the International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board found construction executives are 23 percent more optimistic than their peers in the non-construction business sector. Forty-eight percent of those in construction thought the general economy will improve compared with 44 percent of all small-business owners and 39 percent of people in non-construction industries.

The survey also shed light on troublesome issues facing the construction industry. The cost of materials is the biggest concern for 25 percent of construction companies surveyed, while just 3 percent worry about the cost of fuel. Finding quality employees was the most important issue for 16 percent of non-construction owners and managers, but worried just 10 percent of those making hiring decisions in construction.

Forty-three percent of surveyed construction company executives plan to increase hiring. Only 34 percent of those in the non-construction industries have the same plan.

“The differences in expectations of construction executives vs. their peers in other industries is striking,” said Gregg Steinberg, president of International Profit Associates. “Growth in the construction sector, coupled with higher costs for construction materials and hiring pressures, will be watched closely by the Federal Reserve as it determines future interest rate policy for the economy in general.”

Nearly 500 small-business owners and senior managers participated in the poll, of which 281 were involved in the construction industry.