Even as we enjoy the end of 2023, with cooler weather and holidays with friends and family, it’s time to start planning for 2024. Next year could be an interesting one in paving and construction.
Here are some events and predictions to note for 2024:
The Farmers’ Almanac anticipates a cold and wet winter in 2024 after a summer of intense heat. While the prospect of cooler temperatures is eagerly awaited, the Almanac suggests it might be more than expected. Snowfall is projected across the nation, accompanied by persistent wet conditions. Southern regions, in particular, are poised to experience above-average rainfall this winter.
Meteorologist Dan Schlotthauer takes it a step further, forecasting significant snow in the California/Rocky Mountain regions, a winter battleground in the Midwest, substantial cold rain in Texas, and the possibility of blizzards on the East Coast. His insights, presented in the video “This Winter Will Not Be Normal,” provide further details. Whether one places trust in the Farmers’ Almanac or prefers the insights of meteorologists, indications suggest that this winter could surpass the severity of the previous one in many parts of the country.
We don’t want to discuss this around the Thanksgiving table, but politics can affect the 2024 outlook for paving and construction. First, it’s an election year, so buckle up and prepare for those political ads. Next, let’s look at the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Since the act was passed in 2021, the government has allocated $280 billion to states, tribes, and local governments. This is a little over half of the $550 billion that will be distributed. At least $110 billion is earmarked for transportation and public transport projects, including upgrading highway systems and local roads.
Much of this money is still on the table, and companies can bid on these projects through a sealed bid or a competitive bid. The best way to learn more about what is available in your area is to visit Build.gov, which has an interactive map of various infrastructure projects. If you visit SAM.gov (System for Award Management), you’ll find projects to bid on. You must first register for the site. Once you’re registered and signed in, you can find contract opportunities. To learn more about bidding, read the General Services Administration article “Bidding on Federal Construction Projects.” Another strategy is to contact your state Department of Transportation to ask about projects and touch base with your local leaders. This type of networking is always a good way to stay in touch with your area’s paving needs, and it puts your business on its radar.
We’ve weathered a period of high inflation, but the good news is in 2024, inflation is expected to continue to decrease from its high point of 8.0% in 2022. In 2024, inflation is expected to reach 2.5%, which is still higher than the typical 2.0%, but consumers should have more money in their pockets. The construction industry is expected to have a small increase in growth next year, with the American Institute of Architects predicting a 2% increase in overall building. Unfortunately, the labor shortage will continue into 2024. In 2023, the industry was short half a million workers, and that trend will continue. In 2024, it will need to add another 324,000 workers.
Green technology is expected to gain momentum in 2024 as consumer demand begins to rise. This includes a broader range of eco-friendly paving options such as pavers and recycled asphalt and concrete. While the construction industry has traditionally been slow to embrace modernization, there’s a noticeable shift as businesses increasingly adopt new technologies like drones, 3D modeling, smart wearable tech, and IoT technology. This trend is set to continue, and rightfully so, as those in the industry strive to leverage the benefits that technology offers. We’ve only just scratched the surface of what Artificial Intelligence may bring. Although AI adoption won’t dominate the technology landscape in 2024, it’s the next big trend to keep an eye on.
What Can We Do To Prepare For 2024?
While it’s impossible to predict everything we may face in 2024 (a lesson learned from 2020), there are steps we can take to prepare now:
- Weather Readiness: Be prepared for a wet or snowy winter by monitoring the long-term forecast in your area.
- Climate Change Adaptation: Discuss how to handle more extreme weather events as climate change progresses. Predictions include heavy rains, hot summers, and wet and cold winters becoming more common.
- Infrastructure Projects: Look into projects in your area funded by the Infrastructure Act.
- Economic Preparedness: Be ready for a potential slowdown in growth as 2024 begins.
- Technology Adoption: While we can’t adopt all technologies at once, consider what tech makes sense for your business and take steps forward.
- Workforce Strategy: Strategize ways to attract workers to your company.
Planning for another year is always exciting, and 2024 holds great potential. With the global pandemic behind us, decreasing inflation, and increasing technology and innovation, let’s do everything possible to make 2024 a fantastic year in the paving business.