Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB), an international property and construction consultancy firm, has just released its Crane Index and Quarterly Cost Report for the North American construction industry. These two reports provide a comprehensive analysis of 14 key markets, giving a unique perspective on the current state of the industry.
The latest quarterly cost report, based on data up to mid-Q1 2023, shows that the national average increase in construction costs was almost 1.4 percent compared to the previous quarter. Boston, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco experienced increases above the national average this quarter, while Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Washington DC experienced gains that were less than the national average.
Despite economic uncertainty surrounding oil prices and unresolved bank stress, Julian Anderson, FRICS, President of RLB North America, notes that there are some bright spots in the industry. Inflation seems to be leaning in the right direction, and other challenges such as workforce development are following suit, Anderson added.
In addition, RLB’s Quarterly Cost Report notes that the U.S. quarterly national average increase in construction costs is around 1.4 percent, compared to 8.11 percent year-over-year. The construction unemployment rate has gone down slightly to 4.4 percent from 5.0 percent in the same period last year. However, the Architectural Billings Index (ABI) is 49.3, which reports less than 50 for four consecutive months.
The Crane Index is also an essential report that RLB has published. It shows that cities such as Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto have all seen an increase in cranes. At the same time, Boston, Calgary, Portland, and Washington, D.C., have held steady in their crane counts. On the other hand, Chicago and New York have both experienced a decrease in their crane counts.
Overall, the city with the most number of cranes in North America is Toronto, with 238 cranes. In the U.S., the city with the highest number of cranes is Seattle, with 51, followed closely by Los Angeles, which counts 47 cranes. Portland and San Francisco count 14 and 17 cranes, respectively.