A recent survey done by Merit Contractors Association revealed that the Saskatchewan construction industry is optimistic about the 2015 construction season despite the economic downturn from low energy prices. Dean Carswell, estimator and project manager with Craftex Builders, says the market has slowed, but is still steady.
“It’s dampened a bit since 2014 and we are projecting a little bit of a continuum of dampening through the rest of this season and into 2016 but the future forecast, by the time oil starts picking up around 2016-2017, projections are looking really good to 2018,” he said.
Since 2009, wages for field workers has risen 4.5 per cent, though Carswell says in the last few months there has been a bit of a decrease. The biggest slowdowns have been seen in the engineering sector, particularly for any construction projects involving heavy oil businesses. He admits that his company has had to lay off a few employees, but not as many as businesses in other sectors and says that some companies are actually reporting a slight increase in hiring.
Carswell says that despite the slight dampening in business, the coming projected season looks promising when compared to years like 2008.
“Which is really exciting. Then the forecast projections by the time we get to 10 years out, we’re looking at projected increases of being six per cent higher of what we were last year at 2014, which was a stellar year,” he said. “So the longer-term projections look really great for the construction industry to continue to be a major contributing industry group to both Alberta and Saskatchewan’s gross domestic product.”
There are a number of factors contributing to the positive future projections, two of which Carswell says are increased investment and the retirement of the baby boomers. He says that when the boomers begin retiring there will be some excellent employment opportunities for the younger generation entering the sector.
“There was some concern going into 2015 about how the decline in oil prices would affect the construction market in Saskatchewan. However, as we progress into construction season, we are finding that the construction sector remains a strong and stable employer,” said Karen Low, executive director of Merit Contractors Association in a press release.
According to the survey, 47 per cent of Saskatchewan construction contractors expect their volume of work to increase over the coming year, while another 47 per cent say it will stay about the same. Only 17 per cent expect their workload to decrease.