Activity in construction will Remain strong in 2020

In 2019, activity in the construction industry will have reached a record level, with 177.0 million hours worked throughout the province – a 9% rise over 2018. This milestone breaks the previous record of 165.5 million hours, reached in 2012.

Although a slight slowdown is expected in 2020, activity will remain strong, with an expected total of 173.5 million hours worked, a drop of 2%. This fallback is explained by weaker performance (between 3% and 6%) in all sectors except the institutional and commercial sector, which will remain stable. 

These figures are revealed in Perspectives 2020, a document published today by the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ). 

The regional data are available at the bottom of this press release.

Economic activity per sector

After a fourth consecutive year of strong activity in 2019, the civil engineering and roadwork sector is forecasting a 6% drop to 33 million hours worked in 2020. The main factor for this decline is the completion of construction of the new Samuel-de-Champlain Bridge, this fall. However, public bodies, notably the government of Québec and the city of Montréal, plan to maintain their investments at levels similar to those in 2019. 

A moderate decline will be seen in the industrial sector, which will record a total of 11.5 million hours worked, 4% less than in 2019. This result is explained by the putting on hold or suspension of certain large-scale projects as a consequence of uncertainty surrounding international markets suppressing investment, the price of raw materials remaining low, and global industrial production slowing. 

Activity in the institutional and commercial sector remains at a historic peak in 2020, recording 98 million hours worked for a second consecutive year. Sustained investment in the institutional sector and a large number of commercial projects are mainly responsible for this remarkable performance. A number of sites in the healthcare sector (last phase of the CHUM, new CHU de Québec hospital), major investments in the construction and renovation of schools, and numerous large-scale mixed commercial projects are feeding the effervescence in this sector. 

Finally, despite a slight anticipated fallback of 3%, prospects in the residential sector remain promising for 2020, with 31.0 million hours worked. Despite a drop in the issuance of building permits, the resale market will remain strong, favouring a sellers’ market, and the low stock of unsold units and high occupancy rates will maintain pressure on housing demand.

Regional activity
Variation in number of hours worked
Region  2019 estimate 2020 Forecast
Bas-Saint-Laurent–Gaspésie  10% -7%
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean  24% -1%
Québec City  3% 1%
Mauricie–Bois-Francs  0% -7%
Estrie 12% -1%
Greater Montréal 9% -2%
Outaouais 20% -5%
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 16% -12%
Baie-James 12% -5%
Côte-Nord 16% -15%
All of Québec 9% -2%

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