We recently gave you a quick breakdown of Dodge Data and Analytics’ 2020 Construction Outlook. And we were happy to—because although the outlook does forecast a slowing economy, Dodge economists are not predicting a full-blown recession.

Dodge predicts construction starts will decline 4% in 2020 to $776 billion. The most notable drops by sector are residential (forecasted to decrease by 6% from 2019) and nonresidential buildings and nonbuilding construction (both forecasted to drop 3%).

Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge, recently spoke with us about findings from the report and his advice for business owners as we move closer to 2020. Branch has been with Dodge for about 10 years, previously as a senior economist. He was named chief economist in September. In total, Branch has 20 years of experience as an economic forecaster. Read his insights below.

What are your biggest takeaways from Dodge’s 2020 Construction Outlook?


RB: There are two things that I hope people will take away from our 2020 forecast. First, even though we are calling for a decline in construction starts in 2020, this will be nothing like what the industry went through during the Great Recession. This downturn will be very mild in comparison. Second, there will still be lots of opportunity to grow your business next year. It might be in a different market than you are currently in or a different geographic area … but there will be opportunity.

What is your top piece of advice for construction managers planning for 2020?

RB: Be proactive and creative. Don’t wait—start looking for those different opportunities now, before activity starts to slow.

How do you see the 2020 outlook’s findings setting the industry up for 2021?

RB: With the downturn expected to be mild (certainly when compared to the Great Recession), we should start to see the seeds of growth sprout in 2021—particularly so on the residential side of the market.