While the COVID-19 response forced much of the region to shutter, construction projects in Oregon remained active as essential business.
However, out of an abundant concern for public health and safety, many projects and workers voluntarily stopped work until proper safety regulations could be implemented. While the long-term effects remain to be seen, large projects wait in the pipeline with a labor market that remains tight in the near term. Meanwhile, Portland continues to be at the forefront of building technology, with the largest living building in Oregon — the PAE Living Building — breaking ground. While we have yet to see the effects of the recent statewide gross receipts tax, Portland Metro has doubled down and passed a new $2.5 billion tax to fund homelessness services.
Local construction costs are likely to be pushed upwards through 2020 by a combination of factors. The tight labor market will keep wages high, as will an increase in the state minimum wage that goes into effect on July 1st. Difficulties sourcing materials will also drive up costs, as international supply lines and domestic production are both hampered by the pandemic. These will counteract any downward pressure on escalation that could be exerted by the slight drop in overall construction volume in the region.