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Informed by its latest Crane Index, Rider Levett Bucknall anticipates the effect of coronavirus on the construction industry

While total crane count holds steady, turbulent economic conditions indicate a recession-based drop in construction costs.

April 02, 2020 |

Courtesy Pixabay

International property and construction consultancy firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) has released its latest Crane Index for North America. The report, compiled with information gathered from three sources—a one-day physical count of fixed-tower cranes on city skylines, a survey of RLB experts on the ground in each location, and interviews with local crane suppliers—provides a simplified measure of the construction industry in 14 key markets.

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a sudden and ongoing effect on the economy,” said Julian Anderson, FRICS, President of RLB North America. “We expect, given the impact the virus is having on financial markets, that there is a good chance it will trigger a recession, which will eventually drive construction costs down as contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers compete to win the reduced number of projects in development.”

Crane Index market notes

  • Toronto continues to be home to the majority of total cranes counted (27%), followed by Los Angeles (10%)
  • For the third consecutive count, Seattle experienced a decrease in its crane total, down 20% from the previous Index
  • Cities seeing an increase in cranes include Calgary, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Toronto
  • Cities with a decrease in cranes include Las Vegas and Seattle
  • Cities having steady crane counts include Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, and Washington D.C.

 Crane Index sector notes

  • Residential and mixed-use projects combined account for 70% of all cranes counted
  • Cranes dedicated to healthcare projects drop 33% from previous counts
  • Hospitality projects experience a nationwide decrease in active cranes of 50%


Read the complete Crane Index here.

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