The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant effect on markets and commercial activity will likely present a range of challenges to the engineering and construction (E&C) industry — challenges that could deepen depending on the severity and length of the crisis in the US and globally. Uncertainty surrounding the duration and severity of this crisis make it hard to anticipate how a recovery could unfold for the industry.
Some construction projects may be delayed, or perhaps canceled, as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on the companies and governments that commissioned them. Further, possible supply chain bottlenecks of equipment and materials — including structural steel and glass from Asia — could cause project delays in currently funded projects, or reduced spending on future ones.
The most immediate impacts are likely to be felt at the subcontractor middle market of the industry, as the specter of potential widespread construction site shutdowns loom in the wake of recent decisions to do so in Massachusetts. Subcontractors may be especially vulnerable to bankruptcy, which could occur after a site shutdown of only weeks.
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