Companies in the engineering and construction (E&C) industry have had few safe havens during the past several years. In the oil and gas sector, persistently low oil prices hindered — or stopped — work on most large energy projects. Even though prices have slowly begun to recover, most oil giants are still cautious about new initiatives with major capital expenditures.

2017 Engineering and Construction TrendsInvestments are projected to increase through 2018, in line with a projected rise in oil prices, but overall spending levels will remain far below the historic highs of 2012 and 2013. The caution is understandable: Having suffered through a brutal two-year stretch in the industry, management teams are retaining some “dry powder” in case prices drop again.

In the construction sector, the story is more mixed. Private investment has grown in some U.S. segments, such as commercial and highway projects, even as investment in less visible sectors generally supported by local or federal government funds, such as water, sewage, and public safety, has declined. Meanwhile, most E&C firms are trying to interpret mixed messages from the new U.S. administration regarding its proposed mega-infrastructure spending program.

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